In the quiet nights before our first daughter was born, I remember my husband asking “What are you most afraid of when the baby is born?”
I thought about the question, seriously.
Not knowing how to soothe a baby with colic? Being a good role model for my child? Raising a compassionate girl into a brave woman, who still has the lightness of spirit to laugh recklessly?
“I’m afraid of sleep deprivation,” he said, matter-of-factly, and rolled over to fall sleep. Soundly. With snoring. Those were the days…
Fast forward to the post-baby sleepless nights that followed once our daughter was born: my husband was right. Sleep deprivation turned out to be the family kryptonite.
Here’s a horrifying picture of what sleep-loss does to you. A 2013 study found that insufficient sleep could actually cause genetic changes. Without enough sleep, you’re also at a higher risk for obesity, stroke, and diabetes. You’re more likely to have an accident, catch a cold, or have problems with your memory.
If you’re me, you consistently put the milk in the cupboard, and are generally a horrific human being.
Like millions of sleep-obsessed parents, I researched and read. I Googled “How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?” along with “Can I actually die of sleep deprivation.” (It sounds like the answer is YES to that, by the way).
We Ferberized, we cuddled, we had a nighttime routine, we had a naptime routine, and we had a chart to track the routines. And, like many baby milestones, sleep eventually got easier and better for our baby. There is no telling which of our multi-strategies finally succeeded.
Baby daughter number two came along two years later, and the cycle of sleeplessness began again. But, this time, we had a secret weapon on our side. It’s a weapon I like to call: Not giving a f*ck about parenting judginess because you’re too tired to care. I highly recommend putting some Not Giving a F*ck in your parenting arsenal.
Research continues to question the safety of co-sleeping. We always placed our daughters in their own beds to sleep each night. Still, somehow, they usually ended up in our bed at some point in the night.
A king sized bed is generous sleep real estate for two adults. However, two adults plus two flailing toddlers in a king sized bed is like being in a cage-match that you’re losing. They sleep side ways, with feet in your face. They draw ever closer, boxing you into a smaller and smaller space. Suddenly that enormous king size bed is just not big enough for four people.
So, we took matters into our own hands, and made a massive, room-sized, double king-sized bed. This is what made the dreams come true:
Lack of sleep was killing us, so we made a major investment in sleep. Putting our money where our heads lay actually DID buy happiness. Now, if our girls need a middle-of-the-night snuggle to get back to sleep, it’s an easy fix that gets everyone back to sleep – fast.
Do we get weird looks when people visit our house? Yes. Are there raised eyebrows and thinly veiled insinuations about my husband and me having interesting “extracurricular bedtime activities?” Yes. (Sorry guys, no interesting parties here).
Are there judgy people who think co-sleeping is backward, coddling, behavior that raises weakling children? Yes.
Do I give any f*cks? Hell no. I’m busy sleeping while they’re sneering.
Because, in bed, size matters.