Monday, June 15, 2009

The Family Bed

"Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole,"
Samuel Taylor Colerige

Pip had her first nightmare last night.  It was shocking.  I had no idea she could scream that loud.  My husband reached her first and she was looking, in horror, at the decorative butterflies on her wall.  He picked her up and tried to comfort her, "They're not real honey, they won't hurt you.  You've just had a bad dream.  Mama and I are right here."   

Pip eventually calmed down and my husband passed her over to me.  After a cuddle, I tried to put her down on her bed and she started to panic: crying, legs kicking, arms locked around my neck, that sort of thing.  I climbed into her bed, with her lying on top of me, and tried to convince her that there was nothing to be afraid of.  She was holding on to me for dear life, and I could feel her heart pounding against my chest.

After a few minutes I tried to shift my body out from under her in an attempt to leave her bed, but she wouldn't let me go.  "Mama, I don't want to stay in this bed."  Pip's eyes were wide open and she was absolutely terrified.  I had never seen her in this state, and I couldn't leave her side.  I snuggled in for the long haul.
"I won't leave you, Pip."

As soon as she realized that I wasn't going anywhere she relaxed.  Within minutes her eyes were closed and her breathing grew heavy.  It was quite lovely.  Pip slept with my right arm around her and my left arm clasped between her two hands. 

I have strong opinions about kids and sleep.  I don't believe in 'the family bed.'  I think that we do kids a disservice if we don't encourage them to fall asleep on their own, in their own beds (or cribs.)  It's an incredibly important skill to learn, and if they don't learn it as babies, when are they going to start sleeping independently?  The Baby Whisperer wisely says, "Start as you mean to go on," and for the most part, that's what we've tried to do.  

I'm the first to admit that there is nothing as precious as feeling your baby asleep on your chest.  It's absolutely divine!  I slept with my babies in the hospital, I napped with Pip for many months, and I do love sleeping with my girls, I  just don't think it's the healthiest choice for children in the long-run.

Still, I cherished last night.  My philosophy hasn't changed; I will continue to encourage Pip to sleep on her own, but sleeping in each other's arms last night was a little piece of heaven.