In some form or fashion I have been co-sleeping for the past 17 years. Whether we just share a room (*co-sleeping) or my child has slept in bed with me (*bed sharing), they've been there. Or rather I've been there for them. (*please see My definitions at the bottom of post.)
17 years ago it was very taboo to admit to others we were co-sleeping. That I slept with R right next to my side of the bed, taking her in with me when she was hungry or just upset and needing me. I knew from instinct that it would not be looked kindly on- that is was warned against so strongly in all my "parenting" books that I felt I was harming my children. But it just felt too right to not do- I just didn't admit it...to anyone. Especially those in "power". You know those in "power": our Pediatrician, my doctor, social service agencies, teachers, Them. I was whole heartedly afraid if they found out my children would be taken from me, especially as babies.
Over the last 17 years a shift in me has happened. I've become more confident in my natural choices for my kinds- I've come to believe in myself and knowing what is truly right for them and doing right by them. I was still cautious with the info that we co-slept and more often than not bed shared, and watched who and how I told. Making sure the person knew my child had their own bed but that it was the child's will that made me "let" them sleep with me. It seemed like it was not as taboo if the child instigated it.
And then I started to encourage others with my stories of co-sleeping and the benefits I had found. I'd call myself "too lazy" to get out of bed to feed them as infants and found it easier to just have them in with me from the get go. This helped me overcome some hesitancy. I still guarded this with the Powerful people, only admitting it really to our Pediatrician, who I've had for the last 10 years. She never once has warned me about the dangers of co-sleeping or bed sharing, and actually was encouraging when C was born about "sharing a room with a newborn". It seems there has been some growth in society about co-sleeping too. It's now encouraged to have newborns in the room with you, especially with breastfed babies. So their needs are being met and a strong breast feeding relationship can be established. Yay for progress~ (Note: I am not saying this is every where, just here in the state/area I live in. But I have seen articles stating that in national parenting "rags"/mainstream magazines and books. Yes I call them rags- just because they're fluffy and not really of much importance and also give out A LOT of wrong information.)
We reach today and I will admit to everyone we bed share with both our little boys. I sing the praises to other parents and mostly to new moms. I tell the Powerful people but am on Mama-Bear alert when I do, ready to defend our choice at all costs. Prepared for a visit from CPS (child protective services) within a few days of my coming out openly. It's never happened to me but you hear about it happening to others. With the appointments and evaluations we've had over the course of the last month, we've talked a lot about our sleep situation (being that one of our big issue is C's sleep issues, it has to get talked about) and with those talks I've never once felt judged or the need to defend myself. No, I haven't been encouraged to continue or praised for our choice, but for the most part they've been understanding that we're doing what's right for our children and family. That sleep is important, especially for parents with a child that doesn't sleep and we do what we have to to get it.
It still bothers me that it's seen as this thing that is bothersome to the parent (we've all seen those tv shows or movies that depict a child who's come to sleep with their parents in the middle of the night and how the parents lay there looking put out and hating it!) and detrimental to the child's growing independence and reliance on others. That "they'll never sleep alone" and "your setting up bad habits"- I can assure you my older children no longer co-sleep. They each have their own beds and sleep in them (most nights- yes on occasion we do get a straggler after a bad dream or storms wake them, but they are usually calmed easily and just want a spot on the floor so they're not alone. They're scared and need a parent and some security, much like any other "normal" child out there, probably less often than children that never got to feel the security co-sleeping offers.) They need us to do our job- comfort them and love them, what the title "Parent" lets us do, not matter what time of day it is.
Here where we live its getting there. I hope this growth in society continues, with more parents "admitting" they meet the needs of their children at night in the easiest way possible- sleeping with them just an arm's length away. My wish: That it'd just hurry up a bit, 17 years is a long time.
(*Definition- Co-sleeping: Parents and child sharing a sleeping space, but in own "beds". IE. a crib located in the parent's room. Bed sharing: a child sharing the same bed/sleeping space as a parent. Note: there are Correct/Safe sleeping habits to follow while bed sharing. Please see this link from Safe Bed Sharing.)