I've Been Co-Sleeping With My Kids for 7 Years & I'm Not Going to Stop

cosleeping family
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It starts with the baby. He's 3 years old now, but he still calls himself the baby, still insists we call him the baby. 

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He comes with me to our bed in his favorite Ninja Turtle pajamas. We have a queen with a sidecarred twin that we call a California King: a bed so big we have to buy king-sized jersey sheets to fit across it, and even then keep two sets of covers, one for the parental side, one for the baby's.

The baby squawks for milk. He settles in with me, all warm toddler softness and cuddles, and nurses to sleep, arms wrapped around my breast. I untangle myself, move him to the far side of the bed, and sneak away.

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Later, my husband and I go to bed. We might watch an episode of Sherlock or Twin Peaks or Downton Abbey beforehand. The baby doesn't stir. And then if we want to do something else -- well, it's a big house. There are couches. There are bathroom floor mats. There are two showers. There's a chaise in my living room, and some rugs tossed on the hardwood floors. Believe me, neither of us is hurting for sex. We just have to get creative. Soon we will start the baby out in his brothers' bunk bed, and we will do it in our own bed, and it will be glorious. We might play some music.

But until then, we go to sleep. In our sleep, two little people often creep in: our 7- and 5-year-olds. Some nights they're in there at 1 a.m. Some nights they stay in their top bunk, where they sleep together, 'til morning. It depends on what they need and when they need it. My oldest had a bad dream after watching MonsterQuest the other night; he was cuddled against my husband by 11 p.m. 

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They go to my husband because they each night-weaned when I was pregnant -- so when they cried at night, it was Bear who held them instead of me. Poor Dad often wakes with one boy in front and one boy behind and a cramp in his back. I bitch when my 3-year-old needs to be held in the middle of the night. My tolerance for non-newborn people atop me is much lower than his.

It's a misunderstanding about co-sleeping -- that you all sleep in one giant puppy pile. My youngest starts nursing, gets moved to the far side of the bed, and stays there, sprawled like a tiny millionaire on a California Kong. He only wants cuddles if he wakes up sad, and it's up to me to provide them. I refuse to night-nurse him anymore, so cuddles are all he gets. It's enough for him now. I woke up this morning holding him. I disentangled myself, slithered out of bed, and went about my day.

I also woke up this morning to no other children in my bed. Co-sleeping for us means giving our children what they need, and last night, they didn't need to get in our bed. They are fully capable of going a whole night without us.

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Some people may think it's absurd that a 7-year-old might need to get in his parents' bed, ever. It's not a need, they'd argue, it's a desire. But we believe firmly that human beings are not meant to sleep alone. Our two older children share the top bunk of their bed. The bottom is vacant for the baby, theoretically, and theoretically, one night, we'll put him to bed there.

And when he wakes up, he will walk into the hallway crying. We will rescue him and bring him into our bed. This will happen for months until he learns to walk across the dark hall on his own. Then he'll just creep into bed like his brothers.

Most nights, we sleep five to a bed. We slept four to a bed before that, and three to a bed before that. My husband and I have not had the bed to ourselves since I was pregnant in 2009. But that's okay. We believe our kids will grow up to be more secure, happier human beings knowing that they can get the emotional support they need whenever they need it. They will never undergo the horrible childhood ritual of lying awake, alone, terrified some monster or murderer is coming to kill them. And oddly, while the baby occasionally wants a Paw Patrol stuffie, none of them have dedicated lovies. They don't need them.

Call us inveterate hippies. Call us primal weirdos. But we're happy. We know we're helping our kids, not damaging them. Think we're as odd as you want to. We'll be asleep -- all five of us. Hopefully, the 7-year-old won't steal the covers (again) and no one pees the bed.

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