…as a bed-sharer.
I did NOT bed-share with my foster children. Well, not at first. Understand, this is not allowed for a myriad of reasons. SIDS, with infants, and then for older children, there are issues with trauma, and boundaries, etc and so on. When Moose came to live with me, he was a sweaty, medically fragile infant who projectile-vomited, wore a pulse ox on his foot and a tiny nasal cannula taped with cut-up band aids to his cheeks. He couldn’t tolerate lying flat or being swaddled. After a sleepless couple of weeks, he finally slept pretty well (I thought) in a bassinet with a mattress wedge so that he was not lying flat. Four hours at a time was great sleep for us, I thought, and if he fussed a little often just jiggling the bassinet would get him to fall back asleep.
No chance of bed-sharing there.
I started out as the model foster mom with M, too. She slept swaddled, in the same bassinet, on an apnea monitor. She progressed quickly to two wake-ups per night for feeding, and then one wake up. I found that it was difficult not to drift off while I fed her the first time she woke, so I put her in a travel insert inside the bassinet, so that when I got her out and laid her next to me to eat in the middle of the night, she was actually in her own little space, with sides and the firm mattress and everything. So if I fell asleep, she wasn’t “in bed” with me.
I continued trying to do this after she stop needing to be swaddled, until we went on vacation when she was 6 months old. We slept in the same bed with me sleeping with one eye and ear open, making sure the mattress was firm and the sheet was tight, and no pillow was near her, etc etc. She slept so well next to me at night, and I slept better, too. So I admit, I continued after coming home. I set up her crib in my room, but she didn’t really use it. Until she started to crawl, at least. For about 2 months sleeping with her was impossible, because she refused to lie still and stop flipping over, then crawling, no matter how many times I laid her back down. For that period of time, she slept in the crib, because it was the only way I could preserve my sanity and keep her safe.
After she stopped being totally manic about her mobility, she was back in bed with me again. She still napped in her crib during the day, but here’s the thing… I liked (and still like) it having her next to me in bed. It was comforting to snuggle and drift off to sleep together. She sleeps deeper and doesn’t wake up even once. She hates covers, even kicks them off in her sleep if I try to lay even the lightest blanket over her, but she loves to burrow into a soft pillow. She has never had a blanky, or lovie, or anything like that. She kicks her feet up over my legs sometimes, or turns her back to me and backs up into me. She grabs my hand and puts it on her head, signalling me to rub her hair for a few moments. She hands me her bottle when it’s empty, takes up a pacifier. And she’s out.
Yes, she’s a bed hog. Yes, if I was married and ever wanted “grown-up time”, it might be a problem. Yes, sometimes when I get up after she’s asleep to do a few things, she sometimes fusses and I have to go back. But I don’t care… I love it. I love having her close and knowing that my baby needs and wants me near. Someday she’ll be all grown-up, and that day will come sooner than I want it to. For now, especially now that the risk of SIDS is far behind us, I’m going to snuggle up with her and enjoy every precious moment.