Guest post by my loving and supportive husband, Lilac City Daddy.
My darling wife has been nudging me for a while now to write something for her blog, and I have finally found some time to comply. Two of the subjects suggested by you, my wife’s readers, are co-sleeping and father-child bonding. I have decided to cover both of these subjects, as they can be closely intertwined, while not delving too deeply into either. These are purely speculations and thoughts of my own, and are not intended to be taken as fact. I am definitely not an expert, but a perpetual student in the lesson that is life.
Let me start here by saying that co-sleeping is not ideal for everyone. Each family; father, mother, child, and situation is different. While it can be a fantastic experience for some, it just may not work for others, for whatever reason. When I was young man, I was an extremely light sleeper. I would wake to footsteps outside of my bedroom, or the crickets outside of my window. When our first child was born, this made things difficult for me. As I worked early in the morning and long hours, a night of constantly interrupted sleep was not an option for me. People adapt, it’s in our nature. Presently, I believe I could sleep through a chainsaw cutting the bed in half with me still in it. Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea. I learned to sleep through things and fall back asleep more quickly when I did wake up, out of necessity. While this worked for me and I now have no problem co-sleeping, it may not work for everyone. The other concern I hear frequently, is of the parents rolling in their sleep and squashing their child. While this is possible, it is not very likely. Mothers have protective instincts, and any time I came close to rolling over onto one of our girls, I received a friendly shove or elbow in the ribs. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to stop moving in my sleep.
By now, you may be dreading the idea of co-sleeping and be set on having your child sleep in a crib from birth. Rest assured, there are some very positive aspects of co-sleeping as well, which is where the father-child bonding also comes into play. For one, it is much easier for the mother to get the rest she needs having her newborn child close by all night, especially in the case of mothers that decide to breastfeed. Just as it does for the husbands, a boob in the mouth works like a charm for getting a crying baby back to sleep. Mothers deciding to bottle feed will unfortunately have to leave their nice warm bed (or at least wake up enough to push your husband out), but I believe this would still be made easier by having your baby close by.
Are you wondering yet where the bonding ties in to all of this? For myself, and I believe most other people, the simple of act of sleeping near to someone somehow brings you closer to them. Is it the physical proximity, or some other part of our physiology that creates some sort of chemical reaction between the two people? I have no idea, I am not a scientist, but the connection undeniably exists. I will admit that I am not very adept at creating bonding situations with my daughters. My oldest loves it when I play with her, but I only have so much tolerance for being a princess, a prince rescuing a princess, or the somewhat abused horse of a princess. This is why I don’t mind my daughters coming to our bed some time in the middle of the night, and even sometimes wish they were there when they aren’t. I never feel closer to my girls than when they are curled up in my arms, sleeping. They feel safe and loved, and I feel assured that I can make them feel that way.
To reiterate, co-sleeping is not for everyone. If you can make it work, however, I believe it to be a worthwhile investment in the relationship with your newborn child, and in your own personal sanity, especially for fathers that have trouble connecting to their children in other ways.