By Dr. Daisy Joy Espejo-Torina
I am an advocate of co-sleeping. I wasn’t always was. Before she was born, I imagined my baby fast asleep in her own room and me in the master’s bedroom with a baby monitor. I would be fast asleep myself and would rush to the nursery only when my baby cries. That was not to be. It would turn out my baby disliked being left on her crib. In fact, she disliked being left on her own. She decided mommy’s arms were the place she should be. All the time.
After a few nights of repeatedly standing up to pacify her, to breastfeed her, to lull her back to sleep, to put her back in her crib ever so carefully so as not to awaken her and sometimes just to check if she’s okay, my hubby suggested she sleep next to us. It was much easier. I didn’t have to get up to breastfeed her. I didn’t have to get up to pacify her because she was content to be lying next to me. My scent and warmth were enough to keep her quiet and to keep her asleep. When I see photos of her I couldn’t believe how small and fragile she was, I couldn’t imagine how we didn’t squash her in our deep sleep. But I do remember how I would wake up every time she stirred. And every time my hubby stirred. He wasn’t always aware there was a small baby right next to us. There were many times I had to ward off or reposition his arm as it was just about to fall on my baby’s face. Then I decided she was much safer on the outer side of the bed instead of in between us. Now I can’t imagine how she didn’t ever fall off the bed!
Co-sleeping has its hazards though. There was a premature baby who graduated from the nursery after a month, after attaining acceptable weight and after completing antibiotics. She was just awaiting discharge from the hospital. Perhaps the parents were too tired, perhaps a month of taking care of a sick premature baby took its toll. The baby was later found dead, her chest scaphoid from the weight of her parent. Therefore, it’s not recommended for deep sleepers.
I am a product of co-sleeping but I think it’s not by choice. At 6 pm when the church bells pealed to signal the angelus, it meant it was time to ready for bed. My pillow always had to be positioned lower than my parents’ pillows, I would often wonder why. Now I know it’s much easier and more comfortable to have your child on the crook of your arm when she needs comforting at night and so that her arms are right at the level of the waist when she decides she needs a hug. I’m not quite sure if I was 3 years old or I was in grade 3 when our house got big enough for me and my brother to have our own rooms. I do remember getting more excited than scared to sleep in my own bed. They say co-sleeping makes the transition to a child’s own bed difficult. I’m a living proof that that is not so.
I like waking up next to my baby. I like the part when she opens her eyes in the morning and then looks up and smiles at me. I like it when she says “mommy!” in her small, still sleepy voice. Then she would look around and point to the sunlight peeping through the blinds and say “Sunshine!” or the patterns on the curtains and say “Spiral!” or “Flowers!” or she would note that the lights are off because it’s “Daytime na!” I like wiping off the dried dribble from the sides of her mouth or the “sleep” from the corners of her eyes. I like it that her face is the first face I see every morning when I wake up. She reminds me of the many things I should be thankful for.#