The other night Luna had her first sleep in her own bed. We had been thinking that Luna would move from our family bed into her own bed in our room at some point (rather than into her own room and bed) we have been looking for a new flat with a larger main bedroom specifically with that in mind. But we spent most of the weekend moving furniture. Primarily, we moved our bureau drawers into the lounge/living area to accommodate the single bed. Our flat is quite compact and the main bedroom opens into the living area, so it works fairly well.
This is at once a big new change for us, and also just a normal natural progression, and last night going off to bed and sleep felt like any other night. The thing is, Luna is just over three years old, and we have had her in our bed since the beginning, I had a short period of dealing with the idea that babies must sleep alone, rather than in bed with their mother, but it did not last.
As I soon discovered that what Luna ‘should’ be doing was not at all what I wanted her to be doing, or what she wanted to do either, I had to make some choices. Fortunately my instincts were intact enough, and getting some sleep, and having a happy baby was enough motivation for me to learn about the ancient, beautiful part of motherhood that keeps babies and mothers together at this most important time. I learnt about all the ‘shoulds’ fast, plenty of people were visibly uncomfortable if I just mentioned it, or told me how you let your baby cry it out (assuming I had a problem? Oh no, it’s the baby that has the problem, not fitting with the adult expectation of entitlement of get eight hours uninterrupted sleep all night) or telling me how someone (in a position of experience/authority) had said never ever let your baby into your bed. I had no idea that sharing how something that felt so simple and right for us was so very not what we should have been doing.
Anyhow, so I kept Luna in my bed at night and we didn’t need a cot, barely used the family bassinet that my Nana bought my mum for me when I was born, and had held most of my younger relatives, and read and read and read about co-sleeping, sleep sharing, and human attachment and nighttime parenting. Friends and family did, and probably do still think we are those crazy parents who make all those mistakes, and will be sorry for it one day, after all baby needs to know mum is the boss… But we are happy, I have learned so much about trust, both in my baby and in myself, and I do feel for other parents who are grappling with the same social pressure and lack of sleep that I did. That pressure to fit in and be accepted as you are is very strong, and when all you can think about it getting some or any sleep, you just want a quick fix solution, it is also a very vulnerable time. Things are so new and no one wants to make a mistake!
I have no idea how I could have survived those early months had I needed to get up and out of bed in the deep of the night. No Idea. I had many, many hard nights of barely any sleep but when Luna did eventually sleep we curled up in bed and it was lovely, or I would be happy to see the sun rising so I could forget about trying to get sleep (cause that’s what you’re supposed to do at night, isn’t it?) and get on hazily with the day ahead. Luna’s pattern emerged in her early months, she would wake two hourly, and need to breastfeed at night until she just stopped waking at about 20 months, over about a week, again, just all easy and no stress.
The key was, I worked out what was most important to me, not baby ‘sleeping through the night’ (even though that’s what many people asked, as if it is a badge of being a Good Mother). I wanted bedtime and going to sleep to be a time of peace after a busy day, love, stories, and cuddles and breastfeeding, songs to relax and calm my baby to sleep. Not a time of anxiety and fear, or abandonment. I wanted my baby to know that no matter what, I’d do my best to be there for her day and night, whether she is 1 or 6 or even 18 years old, if she has worries or fears she doesn’t have to be alone. I also wanted sleep, very, very badly, but I also figured out that sometimes I can nap during the day, snuggled with Luna, or I could just lie there and read. I also knew that one day it will be easier, and certainly, with my second baby, and Luna a big three years old, I do know how fast these things change, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I know that Luna and Blake will grow to be happy, independent and confident people.