We were told we would not be getting any sleep with a newborn, at which we scoffed knowingly. Ah, but we are going to co-sleep. None of this struggling to get the baby to sleep in his crib in another room all by himself... No, sir. And we will be well rested because of this decision.
Why, no Mom. No need for you to take a night shift with the baby. We are putting him in bed with us. We'll see you in the morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed. You'll see.
OK, babies sleep like 20 out of 24 hours, waking to eat and then go right back to sleep. Right? How can you not get an abundance of rest if you simply sleep when they sleep? You could get 20 hours of sleep if you want, it would seem. But here's the reality. Baby sleeps in your arms after you breastfeed him to sleep. Then you can't put him down cause he'll wake up. He'll wake up in 30 minutes anyway and want to breastfeed back to sleep again. It's amazing how much sleep this constantly sleeping person can somehow deprive you of, but they are engineered somehow to do this.
The first night went fairly well. Baby was completely passed out. In fact, he went 5 hours without waking and we got worried, so tried to wake him to feed, and with some difficulty, we fed him at 2am. Subsequent nights, this was not an issue. Baby would suddenly start screaming blooy murder - we discovered he went from 0 to starvingangryfamisheddying baby in a second flat. No warning, just sudden and total meltdown. Hubby would deposit him on a pillow on my lap and I would feed him. He'd be asleep within 5 minutes. Ooookay. Move him over beside me and turn out the light and lay down. starvingangryfamisheddying baby instantaneously. Oookay... feed. Asleep in 5 minutes again. Move baby - nope. Okay, feed. Asleep. Wait for baby to be soundly asleep. Veeerrryyy gently try to move... nope. Okay, feed. Asleep. Wait 30 freaking minutes for the baby to be very soundly asleep. Nope. Okay, prop self up with pillows, feed baby asleep, try to sleep sitting up with baby on lap. By the way, intersperse about 10 diaper changes in there.
This was the our cosleeping attempt. We did this for about a week when Mom came back into town and again offered to take a night shift. We were both half-crazed zombies and eagerly agreed this time.
Mom took baby downstairs to the living room where we had a changing table, rocking chair, cradle, two couches and a baby swing. Basically, an uber nursery. I came down every 3 hours to pump and I'd find them curled up on one couch or the other. Or she'd have him in the cradle next to one of the couches. Or he'd be in his swing. But she'd be beside him with a bottle all night, waking every hour or so, but giving us some much needed respite.
When she left again we were not about to reattempt the upstairs cosleeping nightmare from before. No. Downstairs was working for him, it made sense for one person to stay with him and meet his needs while the other got some uninterrupted sleep. So began the shifts.
I would sleep upstairs from 8:30 until midnight or 1, Mike would get him to sleep in his swing, feed him when he would wake, and try to sleep a little in there too. I'd come down at 1 and pump, then Mike would head upstairs and I'd take over downstairs with Parker. I get 3-4 hours sleep upstairs, and another 2-3 downstairs. Altogether, its a survivable, functional amount of cumulative sleep. But is it co-sleeping? Its certainly not the family bed we envisioned. But it works. It's a survival mechanism.
Parker is 4 months now and we still do this. We eagerly look forward to the day he can sleep upstairs and we can all be together. But for now, this keeps us all relatively ok. Parker never cries it out. He's never felt abandoned or alone. I think this is good. But in a month or two we will have to reassess some things and wrap this up...
So that's what is working for us. You have to find what works for you. You might need to employ a little creativity and intuition tho. Read all the books you like. Ultimitely, the baby is in charge. At least for now.