Is sharing really caring?

I sat up in a panic and lifted the covers.
Where was Li’l Fatty?
I shook Learner Dad.
“I can’t find Li’l Fatty!” I whispered.
He raced up the stairs toward the nursery, me hot on his tail, and stopped halfway.
“He’s not here,” he said, turning around, now awake.
“The boys are at Mum and Dad’s remember?”
Then I started to wake up too.
We’d been out to a wedding, had a few drinks, and passed out when we got home.
Neither of us was used to Li’l Fatty not being there.
And I’d woken in a haze of habit and too much champagne.
Why I’d thought he was in our bed though, I don’t know.
He’s never spent a minute, let alone a night, asleep in our bed.
Actually that’s not true.
There were a handful of mornings I’d feed him and leave him asleep ON the bed while I went about my day.
To be honest – and completely non-PC – I love the idea of bed sharing with your child.
Now, pipe down, I don’t do it.
This is: a) because I’m a (almost notorious) light sleeper: and b) because I’ve been to a coroner’s inquest that related to a baby sleeping with her mother.
I know the rules.
I don’t do it.
But sleeping beside your children, even as babies, seems to me the most natural thing in the world.
I mean, when you think about it, yes your baby could suffocate.
But aren’t we always hearing about cot death too?
Either way, it’s something Master Seven and Li’l Fatty will never know.
The fear campaign around co-sleeping has done its job on me.
I wouldn’t get a wink of sleep with either of them beside me.
In some cultures, co-sleeping is indeed the norm.
Filipino friends of mine shared their bed with their first baby; attached a bed to theirs for her when their second child came along; then moved their first into her own room and shuffled number two down when number three came along.
A single mummy friend still sleeps with her four-year-old daughter.
She tells me about it almost apologetically, with a rush of reasons.
But the thought of mummy and daughter breathing side by side every night before they wake to face the world together always makes me smile.
Master Seven tried and failed with me on many occasions.
I tried too.
I’d agree to have him in my bed and then, after an hour lying awake, I’d carry him back to his own.
As he grew older, he would sense my restlessness and eventually out of the darkness I’d hear: “Mummy I think I’ll go back to my bed now.”
For all the advantages and disadvantages of co-sleeping, I wonder if I would be any different now if I’d shared my own parents’ bed as a baby.
Would I be more caring?
Feel more cared for?
Would I be less independent?
I don’t think I could be any closer to my parents than I already am.
For me, the best I can do is sometimes let Li’l Fatty have a nap in my arms.
When there’s nothing else on, or even when there is, I just hold him, gazing at his sprouting eyelashes and moist little mouth as he slumbers.
And occasionally I’ll doze off too.
But that’s the closest to co-sleeping I’m ever going to get.


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