The Reluctant Co-Sleeper


(Photo courtesy of


I am going to commit a huge natural parenting faux pas and admit something….


I kind of hate co-sleeping.


I don’t actually 100% hate it.  There are lots of beautiful things about sleeping with your kids.  But, since I am complaining (I will get back to the good stuff later) I should mention some things that make me think I won’t miss this stage.


  • Being squished
  • Waking up numerous times a night as each of the four children wander into our room
  • Sleeping sucking my stomach in with my arm at a wonky angle so that I can fit between two kids
  • Did I mention that my husband is  ginormous?
  • Having one half of my marriage sent to the couch because we don’t all fit in our bed


See, one baby can pretty much take over an entire bed!


I know a lot of people talk about co-sleeping like it really saves sleep.  This can totally be true, especially when a baby is little.  I loved having my first baby sleep with us.  Then when he was around six months he started kicking me in the back all night.  Then when he was one and I tried to move him out of our bed I realized that signing up for sleeping with a baby might end up being signed up for sleeping with a toddler.  When on earth would this end?!


Thus began my love/hate relationship with the “family bed.”  Sometimes I think that people who speak highly of it are just distant enough from it that they forgot about how little they used to sleep.


One thing that sucks about being me is that I always have to eat crow.  For the record, it doesn’t taste good.


I remember that distinctive flavor when I started to dislike co-sleeping.  I had told a friend that I didn’t understand why anybody would NOT co-sleep (this was probably BEFORE I actually had kids).  They must have been bad parents.  Oops … then I was one of them.


There has pretty much been a baby or toddler in our bed for the last seven years.  Let me tell you, it started to get old.  Every night my husband would take that long walk out to the couch so that he could get some sleep after a few kids had jumped on board.


And I would start to look forward to that far away day when just my husband and I could sleep in our bed.


And no, it would NEVER smell like urine.


But today, I got to eat crow again.


I went with my hubby to visit a friend who is in a “home.”  You know those places.  Elderly people who are “rehabilitating.”  A maze of huge hallways, strange noises, distinct odors, and often very lonely grandmothers and grandfathers.


We went late, since that was the only time we could get away together, and most everybody was already tucked in for bed.


I couldn’t help but notice that in the room next to our friend was a tiny grandma … but she was co-sleeping!


“What?!”  I thought.  “Why does this grandma have a baby?  And why is it in bed with her?”


A closer look showed that the “baby” was just a doll.  Little grandma was tucked in at night with her own life-size baby doll atop her.


Snuggled up, co-sleeping, even though … she didn’t have a REAL baby any more.


I showed my husband.


“We need to go home and hug our babies,” he says to me.


Oh, the things that get tiresome for parents of young children.


Always being needed.  Always getting hugs.  Always feeling loved.  Always being crawled upon.  Always having four people who need to tell you something IMPORTANT — right NOW!


Oh yes, and always having somebody who would rather be in your arms, than anyplace else.


Maybe someday I will be like that little old lady.  Maybe I will have my own doll to sleep with me when all my babies are gone and I am forgotten somewhere dreary and lonely.


I hope I at least can take with me warm memories of soft arms and dimpled mouths, and babies that felt best when they were snuggled up next to me.


(This post originally appeared on the natural birth blog, Mama Birth on January 25th, 2012.  The top photo was used on that blog post with permission from Kathelyn Demidow whose photography I highly recommend.  She is truly gifted and unique.  The author, Sarah Clark is a mother of four, a co-sleeper with many, and teaches natural birth classes and trains teachers for Birth Boot Camp.  She is even dumb enough to share her real feelings occasionally online.  It happens.)



Sarah Clark

About Sarah Clark

Sarah Clark is a mother of four naturally birthed babies, a wife, a birth instructor, and a board member for Birth Boot Camp, a natural birth company specializing in online and in person birth education.


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