.co-sleeping with B at nine months.

I realized that I haven’t written a blog in quite awhile. There’s so much afoot in our world these days: the anticipation of our new arrival in two short months, the daily pleasure that is watching Bram grow and change, R’s national job market search, and the beginnings of my birth doula work. The long and short of it is that we are often tired women. As such, we’re motivated to improve Bram’s sleeping habits, both at night and during the day. We are opposed to any cry-it-out approach and, to this point, everything around sleep has been purely baby-led. But now that we’re expecting again, we need to know that B can take naps and night sleep at consistent times, that he can nap out of our arms, and that he can make it through the night with minimal waking and nursing.

I plan to tandem nurse B and Sailor, though Sailor will need to have primary access for exclusive breastfeeding. My goal is to do this without supplementation, so I’m working hard to increase my supply, to freeze backstock milk, and to gradually nightwean Bram so that Sailor can have milk throughout the night AND I can ever sleep again! Right now Bram co-sleeps with us almost exclusively (he does have a sidecar toddler mattress that he often begins the night in). He’s waking up every 1-2 hours to nurse (last night it was eight wakeups!). Increasingly, he’s having longer periods of wakefulness in the night (1-2 hours at a stretch) where even nursing and rocking won’t settle him back to sleep. Obviously, this current pattern is unsustainable with one, but it’s downright crazy with two.

We don’t want Bram to associate night weaning and any change in sleeping arrangements with the arrival of the new baby, so we’re working hard to incorporate these changes over the next two months. Our goals are: two naps a day (1-2 hours long) around 10 and 2 each day, weaned from bottles and onto a sippy cup of breastmilk by 12 months (still nursing freely at the breast throughout the day), bedtime around 7pm with a goal of 12 hours in the bed, one to two night wakings/feedings. He’s eating solids like a champ, so I think that the decrease in milk is likely to be self-selected. Naps are getting better already. It’s the nighttime that we’re having the hardest time with. I’ve begun consulting both the No Cry Sleep Solution and Beyond the Sling,and we’re beginning to incorporate some new co-sleeping suggestions this week. I wish that I had started to use some of these solutions with him when he first started co-sleeping with us at four months (before that, he was in a sidecar portacrib). Both of these books are quick reads and full of helpful information.

One thing in the No Cry text that really struck me was a section where she asks parents to really interrogate themselves to see if they might be at the root of their child’s sleep problems (i.e. preventing the family from changing patterns). That was a real a-ha moment for me, because, despite how fatiguing it is, I really treasure my time with B in the night. I work full-time outside of the home and miss him so desperately when I’m away, that the nighttime snugs and feedings are such a touchpoint of reconnection after time away. I love smelling his milky breath and stroking his soft downy head back to sleep. I love to wake up and find that he’s latched himself without me even noticing. I love the moments where he connects R and I in bed (sometimes he’ll take both of our hands in his or he’ll roll from side-to-side checking in with both of us). They’ve certainly had their challenges (and more than one bitten nipple), but all-in-all I’ve treasured these last five months of exclusive co-sleeping. But I want for Sailor to have these same opportunities for intimacy and bonding, and I know that two babies in one bed is a safety hazard, and so I know that this time must change soon. We’re thinking that we may have to divide and conquer at first. Perhaps abutting a twin bed up to our queen sized bed? R and B can be in the smaller bed with the new baby and I in the larger bed. My only fear is that the babies will wake one another in the night. Personal experiences with this, anyone?

Perhaps, once they are a little older, we could invest in a king sized bed and extend family bed for the four of us into the preschool years. I’d love input from how other families have handled these questions (especially from anyone with multiple children close together in age).

Also, many of you have asked how our meeting with L (Sailor’s birthmom) went last weekend. I think that it went really well. It’s a very unique kind of relationship building. Our agency has said that ours is the most “open” adoption they’ve every facilitated. It was surreal, though, to sit across from our baby bump for over three hours and never be able to touch him, to sing or speak loudly to him, or to protect him. This is one of the biggest lessons in surrender I’ve ever experienced…

Thanks, all, for your support and encouragement. I can’t imagine parenting without this community!

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5 thoughts on “.co-sleeping with B at nine months.

  1. Our boys are not as close together in age, but we did sleep with them in a family bed for many years (until E was almost 7 and A was 4 and I was d.o.n.e). They then slept in the same bed for a short while, and in the same room ever since. We live in a 5 bedroom house with 2 spare rooms because they have no interest in ever having their own rooms – and they often snuggle in the mornings at current ages 10 and 7. They also both escort their brother to us when he has a bad dream or is sick. Yes to the king-sized bed for the future(although we made due with a queen if you can believe it). We didn’t have to have separation with the toddler per se, just a bed rail, but your idea of the twin bed sounds better than 2 babies in a bed for sure. Oh, and the baby never woke up the 6 year old or the 3 year old, respectively, but I can’t know if that would have been different with a 1 year old. Our babies were pretty sound sleepers, if memory serves.

    I’m glad to hear it went well with the meeting, and I compliment your surrender abilities, which I would completely lack. Also, bravo on your ambitious-but-completely-doable breastfeeding plans! Completely amazing.

  2. Sorry, no advice on co-sleeping. I’m such a light sleeper, and my daughter is so restless that it would never have worked for us!

    Just be cautious with the open adoption… I don’t really know how to put this without sounding bitter about our own situation… I think that knowing a bio parent might be a blessing for some kids but you must protect the child, and yourselves, against a situation where it’s .not. a blessing. I’m not anti-open adoption. I’ve just been in a situation where I was financially taken advantage of by someone I love as a daughter, and then of course we have a lot of contact with bio family which is a two edged sword in our case. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst when you draw up a contract.

  3. I tried to send you a connection on facebook–if it doesn’t work, let me know. My friends have boys that are 5 months apart and they cosleep with them pretty comfortably, so they can give you much better advice than I! My only thought is that we’re having good luck letting EJ sleep in her own room for the first part of the night (we bring her to bed to feed her when she wakes up, and then put her back in her crib and she falls asleep) and for the last feeding we just keep her in bed with us. It gives us all a chance to sleep on our own, but she gets the cuddle time, too. Might be a possible intermediate step to give Sailor more space but still make sure Bram gets plenty of bed time, too.

  4. Im not sure if you remember me, I posted on your board a while back. My name is Lindsay and I was the one who was in a similar boat to you guys in that I wanted to be pregnant but couldn’t be for a variety of reasons. I have been continuing to follow your journey and watch Bram grow and watch you guys grow as people. It’s amazing to see the changes in you in 9 short months (though it may seem like the days are long lol). Congratulations on your upcoming adoption. It was always something Andrea and I wanted to do, but could never afford, especially since we worried about getting selected.

    I also wanted to let you know that we have finally started a blog to document our journey to conception, as we have a date we are going to start trying…eek! The address is makingseven.blogspot.com Im not sure if you even have time to read blogs anymore, but we’d love your feedback from time to time. Its always nice to have someone read who has been there done that.

  5. You have a lot going on! I think you’ve got great and ambitious goals for B’s sleep over the next few months. I think you guys will figure out all of these tricky and wonderful questions with the two babies. I can’t wait to read all about it.

    When G is sick (which she has been a lot lately since starting daycare) all bets are off for sleep. But in non sick times, we helped her transition from waking ever 1-2 hours (or more) in the evening when she was about B’s age to going down for the night and sleeping a 4ish hour stretch to start. It’s absolutely doable at this age and when it happens it’s absolutely magical. The trick with G was helping her learn that she can fall back asleep without us every time (but when she can’t, we’ll be there right away). It’s absolutely amazing to hear her wake up through the monitor, let out a small peep, roll over and fall back asleep. It’s also amazing to be bringing her into our bed at 1 or 2am instead of right when we go to bed. I know you’ll figure out what works for you – good luck!!

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