Saturday, June 20, 2009

Co-Sleeping in the Pool

One of my favorite things in the whole wide world is water.
I love to drink it, soak in it, feel it running down my skin, watch the sunlight ripple off of it, smell it in the air.
I love water.
I love lakes, rivers, oceans, bathtubs, pools, creeks, streams, brooks, and fish bowls. Love it.
So today, when Snapdragon was in a happily dozing mood, I left him in the nearly capable hands of Spouse and snuck off for an hour to go swim at the gym in the delightfully regulated warm water pool. Now, the warm water pool attracts a lot of people, but mostly people looking for some pain relief but still wanting to be mobile. Its what got me hooked on the pool. When I arrived, I was the only person there, and that was perfect. I had the whole pool to myself, to float, swim, work on my aqua-pilates and ai chi all I wanted without having to talk to anybody. Little did I know that the talking to others would prove so interesting.
Shortly after getting into the pool and beginning to take advantage of the wet solitude, another woman came into the pool and she began doing her stretches near me.
I am not socially adept, so I make myself greet the non-creepy people if they come withing a certain distance of myself.
Very shortly after greeting the woman and exchanging pleasantries, Snapdragon came up conversationally in the way that children do, and she inquired about him and shared that her daughter had a 2 month old baby, and this led the conversation to becoming ever increasingly personal. We talked about how her daughter was breastfeeding and how she worried that her daughter's maternity leave was insufficient because of how tightly the two were bonded to one another, and then I did something that I hadn't realized was all that controversial.
I made a comment about co-sleeping.
Her body language changed entirely and she began asking questions. The types of questions you'd expect to be asked if you were being investigated for neglect. Questions like do you have a co-sleeper or does the baby just sleep in the bed with you. Then it comes out that she chairs the committee that investigates all the infant and child deaths in the state.
But she continues to tell me that co-sleeping accidents account for what she implied was a majority of infant mortalities, and I blinked, because I am quite sure that it isn't the majority culprit, elsewise there would most certainly be a stronger anti-co-sleeping campaign than there already is. It wouldn't just be "back to bed, tummy to play," but "back to YOUR OWN bed, tummy to play." Surprisingly, it isn't.
So I ask, "Do you find, statistically, that most of the co-sleeping related mortalities also involve the use of alcohol, sedatives, or other drugs?"
"Yes," she says, "it's the first question we ask when investigating."
Interestingly, by the time we'd finished our conversation, I felt even better about my choice to co-sleep, but I also could honestly say, no, my husband doesn't sleep in the bed because he sleeps too soundly and neither of us are comfortable with him sleeping in the same bed as Snapdragon, and yes, we do have a rigid sided co-sleeper in the bed. Snapdragon doesn't always use it, but we do use it frequently. No, I don't take any drugs, use alcohol, smoke, or otherwise utilize mind and wakefulness impairing substances, and because I'm a light sleeper and breastfeeding, I am more keenly aware of his movements. Oddly, she seemed supportive by the end of the conversation. Aparently her daughter is a co-sleeper too.
So why, oh why, can someone please tell me why is it that someone who isn't actually against co-sleeping would react with something tantamount to horror and professional clinical question badgering when confronted with the idea of co-sleeping?
Seriously. Why? I don't get it. I don't understand why something that people have done since the dawn of time would get this kind of reaction, when even according to her the problem isn't the location of the sleeping but the extraneous irresponsible circumstances?
We need to take a moment to step back and reevaluate our knee-jerk reactions, because with her credentials, if i'd not pressed the issue of discussing causes as opposed to circumstances, I might be tonight worried sick over how I was going to alter our sleeping schedule and arrangements to better fit the standard detached and aloof parenting model of dropping the kid in his wooden cage in another room and letting him cry himself unconscious, all because it had been implied that co-sleeping might be dangerous.

On the other hand, I did learn some valuable tips on co-sleeping that I hadn't considered before. This one sticks out in my mind most keenly though. If your bed is not on the floor, you need to not have a garbage can next to the bed, particularily not one lined with a plastic bag, because aparently some squirmy children will find their way off the bed if napping with an overtired parent (who shouldn't be co-sleeping anyway if a child can wiggle off the bed without waking you) but then into the bag lined can, and the story can end most sadly. I hadn't thought of that possibility. I did have a garbage can next to my bed. I no longer do.

I admit my cosleeping patterns aren't perfect. I'd be happier if the mattress was on the floor, and I'm still using a woven blanket. Some habits are harder to break than others. But we're working on it, and so far, it's working really well for us, but it begs the question, are you co-sleeping, and how do people react when you talk about it?

5 reflections:

Upstatemomof3 said...

Very interesting. I used to think cosleeping was crazy and then my daughter came around and our schedule was all crazy and we do our own version of it - she goes to sleep in her crib and moves into our bed. It works for us. I feel safe because she sleeps in my arms not in the bed but still the SIDS stuff scares me. But having her go back in her crib never worked. That woman should have offered you advice not an investigation. But I am guessing she wanted to know which kind of advice to give - the trash bag or the stop doing drugs kind.

Anonymous said...

nugget is 2 now, so we're mostly subject to the shameful scorn of the she'll-be-sleeping-in-your-bed-forever speech or to the you're-going-to-have-such-a-hard-time-getting-her-in her-own-bed lecture. (wow. today's quite the day for hyphens.)

nuggetdaddy, nugget and i have happily co-slept since her birth (well, technically since her implantation), so we've had two years to learn how to respond to the people who stand too close to us in the pool.

i'll nod to the drone of snl i'm listening to in the background and say that my comebacks nowadays would be best categorized as the "bitchpleeze" variety. we've got the song and dance down pat. we can name that tune in two notes.

oh, and yes, i am co-sleeping at this very moment, tapping this out via crackberry. we're even co-sleeping with our newest addition, tess, the new kitten. ;)

great blog post!

Danielle said...

Great post! I am watching my husband and daughter -21 months- co-sleep on the baby monitor. Eveyone now knows I co-sleep and knows better than to raise eyebrows at me. We do have our mattress on the floor. With baby #2 I will sleep with a co-sleeper in a seperate bed- in the same room as DD and DH-until baby bigger. Then I hope to get the Humnaity bed co-sleeper. I think everyone needs to be eduacted about safe co-sleeping and not scared out of their minds. Masny people enmd up co-sleeping unsafely because there is not enough ifno on what is and isn't safe. Also, cribs are very dangerous but we don't hear about that.

Anonymous said...

If I were you I would have been worried that she was going to report me or try to investigate me. I don't trust people especially those in the government. I <3 cosleeping but it wasn't originally something I planned to do. She was a noisy sleeper and I couldn't sleep so I parked her right next to me on the bed and she slept without making a sound. Hooray for snuggling!

Pamela said...

We co-sleep. I wasn't planning to with any of my children, but it just works better. I'm a very light sleeper, too, and Elliott sleeps nestled up (in my armpit, poor lad) all wrapped in his Miracle Blanket. He can nurse when he wants and I don't have to wear myself out getting up and down to comfort my little one.