Dec 15, 2011

“Cuddle Up, Buttercup!”

Welcome to the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival hosted by Monkey Butt Junction. Our bloggers have written on so many different aspects of cosleeping. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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How many nights I’ve said this to Naomi, I will never know.  Our cosleeping experience has been more than any of us had expected.  Naomi’s babyhood was wonderful, with very few bumps and hiccups.  Sleeping was one of them.

Early on, we tried to have her sleep in a bassinette.  We anchored it to a small table beside my bed, and we’d bundle her up tight and lay her down to sleep.  Then we would get into bed and sleep.

The first three months after birth are often referred to as the “fourth trimester”.  It’s those times when we stumble and trip over ourselves so badly, trying so desperately to learn and understand everything we can about this precious little piece of our hearts God has blessed us with.  During those first seven days of her life, we learned two very important lessons about Naomi.

1.  She did not like to be restricted in any sense.

2.  She would happily sleep for hours at a time… if she were in your arms.

The first few nights in that bassinette were terrible.  Cry, nurse.  Gently set back down.  Cry, nurse.  Gently set back down. When the public health nurse came to see us a few days after Naomi had been born, she even encouraged me to bring her into the bed with us.  I was resistent.  After all, there were so many horror stories about cosleeping.  How could this possibly be a safe idea?

But after those first few nights, I finally decided to bring her into the bed with us.

“Cuddle up, Buttercup,” I cooed to her softly.  More out of desperation than a desire to share our bed, I snuggled her up to my breast, let her nurse herself to a gentle sleep, and snuggled down beside her.

The first night we did that, I woke up to find we’d slept for more than five hours straight.  Five whole hours!  Without a peep!  I even frantically checked on her, thinking surely something was wrong.  But no, she was perfectly happy sleeping away.  When she woke up, I nursed her again and we carried on that way, never once looking back.

Cosleeping for our family has been a wonderful time to reconnect.  At night, Michael gets to spend some time cuddling with his girl as she goes to sleep.  During the day, I am able to console her gently to sleep with a quiet nurse and a gentle rub of her back or palms.  ”Cuddle up, Buttercup,” I say to her when naptime comes.  And she immediately scampers off toward her bedroom, ready for a nap.

At 5 months old, Naomi gave us an indication that she was ready to move into her own space.  She had slept between Michael and I for almost her whole life but at 5 months, she started fussing and whining, thrashing about in her sleep.  We had just assembled her crib in her room, but now, we took off the side railing and moved it into our room, where we were able to attach it snuggly to our bedside.  Right beside me.  After that, Naomi slept in her own bed, almost completely independent of me.  She would go down in her sleepsack, nurse til she was comfortable, and then flop away from me, sigh happily, and drift off to a wonderful, peaceful sleep.  It was never a challenge for us at all.  She was there, I was there, and we were happy.

When she wanted me, she’d fuss and whine.  I would gently pull her to my side.  ”Cuddle up, Buttercup,” I’d whisper to her in the dark, and let her nurse, warm and safe.  She’d snuggle beside me and either roll away or stay close.  We slept far better than most of our friends and family who didn’t cosleep.

At 15 months, we decided it was time to night wean her.  I was headed back to work in the evenings and Michael would be the one putting her to bed from now on.  Anxiously, we put into effect our plan to break her of nursing at night.  Gently, kindly, and lovingly, we held her close as she transitioned away from the breast at night.  Those first three nights were so difficult.  ”Cuddle up, Buttercup,” I’d whisper to her as she fought and screamed, scratching at my chest.  After the first three nights, she quietly settled into a wonderful routine that let us all have some space and time to sleep.

Now we are beginning another transition.  We are preparing her, slowly and gently, for sleeping in her own room.  We have moved her crib from the side of our bed to the foot of it, a little farther, but still close beside.  She goes down to sleep, while Michael sits on his bed.  She knows and trusts that he is there, watching over her, and will not leave her.  When she wants to snuggle and be soothed, she either crawls up to our bed or she calls out for us.

“Cuddle up, Buttercup,” I say, as I reach for her to come to me.  She snuggles in and wraps her sweet little arms around my neck, and sighs deeply.  We lay like this, me resting my cheek on her head, with her arms wound tightly around me.  We don’t nurse until after 5am, when Daddy gets up for work and we usually do as well.

The idea that others would depict co-sleeping as something so violent and ugly, rather than a loving, safe and comforting opportunity to spend time and teach your child is something that does not invoke anger or hatred in my heart.  I simply feel sad.  I feel sad that it discourages others who might wish to enjoy the experience away from something so wonderful.  I feel sad that it makes mothers and fathers who practice cosleeping feel as though they are doing something wrong.  I feel sad that it might make others feel so guilty that they force themselves and their children into some form of heartbreaking cry-it-out program that will not only cause both of them agony and pain, but could indeed damage the delicate balance of trust in their little one’s heart.

If you have concerns about co-sleeping, please visit the many other wonderful bloggers in this blog carnival.  They have some wonderful stories and practices to share.  As well, there are many wonderful, valuable resources to look to, including:

Cosleeping:  Yes, No, Sometimes? by Dr. Sears

Safe Cosleeping by Dr. Jay Gordon

How to Cosleep Safely: A Tutorial in Pictures by Laurel Wayne (Hobo Mama) <– one of the best articles on the subject

Let Cosleeping Families Lie from Today’s Parent

Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally from Attachment Parenting International

The way you and your child sleep should not be dictated by anyone else, be it your family, your friends, your doctor, or your government.  If it works for you, your child, and anyone else who shares your bed, than it is what is right for you.  Trust yourself and your heart.

“Cuddle up, Buttercup”, I say to my daughter.  Every night and every day.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival

Thanks for reading a post in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival. On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the #CosleepCar hashtag.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

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  • Emotive Co-Sleeping Campaign – Miriam at Diary of an Unconscious Mother talks about her feelings on Milwaukee’s anti-cosleeping crusade and its latest advertising campaign.
  • Why Cosleeping has Always been the Right Choice for My Family – Patti at Jazzy Mama shares how lucky she feels to have the privilege of sleeping with her four children.
  • Cosleeping is a safe, natural and healthy solution parents need to feel good about. – See how Tilly at Silly Blatherings set up a side-car crib configuration to meet her and her families’ needs.
  • Black and White: Race and the Cosleeping Wars – Moorea at Mama Lady: Adventures in Queer Parenting points out the problem of race, class and health when addressing co-sleeping deaths and calls to action better sleep education and breastfeeding support in underprivileged communities.
  • Reflections on Cosleeping – Jenny at I’m a Full Time Mummy shares her thoughts on cosleeping and pictures of her cosleeping beauties.
  • Cosleeping and Transitioning to Own Bed – Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine shares her experiences in moving beyond the family bed.
  • What Works for One FamilyMomma Jorje shares why cosleeping is for her and why she feels it is the natural way to go. She also discusses the actual dangers and explores why it may not be for everyone.
  • Really High Beds, Co-Sleeping Safely, and the Humanity Family Sleeper – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives a quick view of Jennifer’s bed-sharing journey and highlights the Humanity Family Sleeper, something Jennifer could not imagine bed-sharing without.
  • Crying in Our Family Bed – With such a sweet newborn, why has adding Ailia to the family bed made Dionna at Code Name: Mama cry?
  • Dear Mama: – Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares a letter from the viewpoint of her youngest son about cosleeping.
  • Cuddle up, Buttercup! – Nada of The MiniMOMist and her husband Michael have enjoyed cosleeping with their daughter Naomi almost since birth. Nada shares why the phrase “Cuddle up, Buttercup!” has such special significance to her.
  • Co-Sleeping With A Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler – Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how co-sleeping calls us to trust our inner maternal wisdom and embrace the safety and comfort of the family bed.
  • Fear instead of Facts: An Opportunity Squandered in Milwaukee – Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction discusses Milwaukee’s missed opportunity to educate on safe cosleeping.
  • Cosleeping: A Mini-rant and a Lovely Picture – Siobhan at Res Ipsa Loquitor discusses her conversion to cosleeping and rants a little bit about the Milwaukee Health Department anti-cosleeping campaign.
  • Our Cosleeping Story – Adrienne at Mommying My Way shares her cosleeping story and the many bonus side effects of bedsharing.
  • Cosleeping can be safe and rewarding Christy at Mommy Outnumbered shares how her cosleeping experiences have been good for her family.
  • Adding one more to the family bed Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the safety logistics of bed sharing with a new baby and a preschooler.
  • The Truth About Bedsharing – Dr. Sarah at Parenting Myths and Facts discusses the research into bedsharing and risk – and explains why it is so often misrepresented.
  • Cosleeping as a parenting survival tool – Melissa V. at Mothers of Change describes how she discovered cosleeping when her first baby was born. Melissa is the editor and a board member for the Canadian birth advocacy group, Mothers of Change.
  • Dear Delilah – Joella at Fine and Fair writes about her family bed and the process of finding the cosleeping arrangements that work best for her family.
  • CoSleeping ROCKS! – Melissa at White Noise talks about the evolution of cosleeping in her family.
  • Safe Sleep is a Choice – Tamara at Pea Wee Baby talks about safe sleep guidelines.
  • 3 Babies Later: The Evolution of our Family Bed – Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment talks about how her family’s cosleeping arrangements evolved as her family grew.
  • Tender MomentsThe Accidental Natural Mama discusses tender cosleeping moments.
  • Cosleeping Experiences – Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure describes how she ended up co-sleeping with her daughter through necessity, despite having no knowledge of the risks involved and how to minimise them, and wishes more information were made available to help parents co-sleep safely.
  • The early days of bedsharing – Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares her early memories of bedsharing with her then new born and gets excited as she plans including their new arrival into their sleeping arrangements.
  • The Joys of Cosleeping in Pictures – Charise of I Thought I Knew Mama shares pictures of some of her favorite cosleeping moments.
  • Symbiotic Sleep – Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children discusses how the symbiotic cosleeping relationship benefits not only children but also parents.
  • Co-sleeping Barriers: What’s Stopping You? – Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares how she was almost prevented from gaining the benefits of co-sleeping her family currently enjoys.
  • Co-Sleeping with the Family Humanity Sleeper – Erica at ChildOrganics shares a way to make co-sleeping safe, comfortable and more convenient. Check out her post featuring the Humanity Organic Family Sleeper.
  • Why We CosleepThat Mama Gretchen’s husband chimes in on why cosleeping is a benefit to their family.
  • Adding to the Family Bed – Darah at A Girl Named Gus writes about her co-sleeping journey and what happens when a second child comes along.


A big thank you to all of the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival participants!

8 Comments

  • ” I feel sad that it discourages others who might wish to enjoy the experience away from something so wonderful. I feel sad that it makes mothers and fathers who practice cosleeping feel as though they are doing something wrong.”

    I couldn’t agree more! I cannot fathom life without bedsharing. That is such a special, special time.

    “Cuddle up Buttercup” is the sweetest saying I have ever heard and to read your story about the natural progression of bedhsaring and co-sleeping was beautiful. I got a little teary eyed by the end!

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks Jennifer! Naomi knows what it means when I say “naptime”! She even nods her head. Then when she asks to nurse, we cuddle up and off we go to dreamtime. It makes her happy. It makes me happy. It makes my husband happy. I wouldn’t change a thing about our bedsharing/cosleeping practices.

  • Oy! That cuddle up, Buttercup got me teary eyed every time! Kieran was the same way – he did not want to sleep unless he was in my arms or on my chest. He was my little snuggle bug :) Ailia is proving to be much different – while she does love to sleep with me all night through, she will at least let me lay her down for little bits at a time when she naps during the day. It’s a surprising convenience to have hands free newborn time!

    • Awww, thanks Dionna! I find it so interesting to hear mothers say how different their children are. I keep imagining that my next child will be a sweet, well behaved angel like Naomi. I know I’m in for quite a shock. :P I wish I had had free hands during the first few months of Naomi’s life but we will deal with that when the time comes.

  • Awww, I love “Cuddle up, Buttercup!” It sounds like something from a movie. What a sweet little rhyme that ultimately helped your child learn when it was time to sleep, too. I wonder if I can come up with something as clever and cute for our son.

    I’m so glad you found a bed sharing method that worked for you and got past that initial difficulty of sleeping apart. Children have plenty of time later to sleep alone… why wouldn’t we want them close to us when they’re little?

    Speaking of the fourth trimester, I recall reading that for the first 9 months or so a baby doesn’t yet realize that they are a separate being from mother. This would explain why sleeping (or doing much of anything, really) apart is so very jarring to them.

    • For the most part, I absolutely loved the 4th trimester. Cuddling and nursing her so much was really great. The worst part was the lack of free hands to get to anything resembling housework. Next time, I think me and baby #2 will just live in my homemade stretchy wrap for the first few months. Nurse, sleep, cuddle mama. That’s about all they want to do anyway!

  • I agree with Dionna, everytime I read “Cuddle up Buttercup” my eyes became all stingy and burry haha. So touching! I may have to steal that, although my LO is almost 19 months now so I am not sure if she will learn to associate it with sleep or not.
    Beautiful post!

    • Thanks Christy! I just start repeating a certain phrase whenever I want Naomi to catch on to a routine. Like when it’s time for dinner I say, “Sit at the table please! Table!” and point to the table. She has figured out that means to go sit down and wait to eat. It works quite well for us. Give it a try!

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Minimomist and daughter nada and naomi
miniMOMist is an account of Mike, Nada and Naomi's journey into realistic minimalism, with the goal centered around simple living, and enjoying each other rather than things. We are a faith-based family and blog about our belief in God regularly. Our love for one another and our passion for a simple, minimalist life brings us much joy and pleasure.


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