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There are as many parenting styles as there are parents. My older sister and I are both parents, for example, but we differ slightly in our approach. My older sister is of the "research everything as diligently as possible then execute your parenting philosophy with the zeal and skill of a Navy SEAL" mindset, whereas my wife and I are more of the "make it up as we go along" philosophy.
Our son Declan was born a month early and spent the first two weeks of his life in the hospital. I still remember how heartbreaking it was to watch my son be yanked out via C-section, then taken directly from his mother's loving arms to the NICU. We couldn't sleep in the same room as our son at the very beginning of his life and, subconsciously or consciously, I think there was a part of us that was so relieved to finally be able to sleep with our boy that we were reluctant to ever let that end.
We slept in the same bed as our baby as soon as he came back from the hospital and though we had a crib and a pack 'n' play, they both went unused because our baby slept with us every night. It felt right at the beginning. Words can hardly convey the peace and contentment it brought us to wake up every morning and for our first sight to be our sleeping baby's cherubic visage, perpetually blessed with a beatific smile.
But like all new parents, it wasn't long until the anxiety and doubt crept in. Were we doing the right thing? Were we stifling our baby's growth and development? Were we doing our baby a terrible disservice by not insisting that he sleep by himself, away from us, if only by a room? We made intermittent attempts to bring an end to our co-sleeping but our never particularly strong resolve shattered at the first sound of Declan's wailing.
We needed the comfort and security of seeing his face every morning and every night as much as he needed to see us.
It was then that we realized that we were as addicted to sleeping with Declan just as much— if not more—than he was attached to sleeping in the same bed as us. We needed the comfort and security of seeing his face every morning and every night as much as he needed to see us. We understand how essential it is for our son to sleep on his own but we don't yet have the iron will to not immediately run and get our son the moment he begins to wail.
For every parent, it is a difficult, yet essential test to be able to see or hear your child be in pain or even just in discomfort and not react immediately to alleviate that pain and discomfort. That remains a test we are still a long way from passing.
It goes against our strongly ingrained instincts as parents to not run to comfort our son when we hear him crying, but our little man will be a year old before too long and my wife and I are worried that the further we postpone the difficult, painful and fraught process of getting him to sleep without us, the more painful it will be—for everyone involved.
My wife and I know on a rational, logical level that our son needs to sleep in a crib at some point, and that, as tempting as it might be, we cannot sleep in the crib with him. (Thankfully, I like to think our co-dependence knows at least some limits.) It's not just the best thing in the long run, it's the only real choice—unless we want to wake up in the same bed as a surly 13-year-old.
But logic and rationality can be abstract and distant whereas our baby's sobbing is the most immediate thing in the world. Yet we must face and conquer this challenge, and, God willing, we will. It's important to set reasonable, manageable goals, however, so right now I'm aiming to have Dex out of our bed at least by the time he's ready to start dating.
Otherwise, things might get just a little awkward.