Co(erced)-sleeping: how we share a sleeping space with our two year old

Guest post by Amira Omar

At almost two years old, Aiman is still co-sleeping with us — something that just might kill me. I don’t mind that he’s in the bed with us, in fact, I love that he’s a few inches away for midnight cuddling purposes and whatnot, but what does make co-sleeping unbearable at this point is his dictatorship — over me, specifically.

We sleep in completely mismatched positions and places all over the bed, and with two adults and a rather massive toddler, this arrangement is asking for sore mornings. And sore, groggy morning are indeed served. Now this can only be explained via illustrations and accompanying descriptions.

Let’s begin.

That is how we initially arranged ourselves, which is pretty standard and protective of child-off-of-bed incidents. Then because our mattress was getting a little too flat and less supportive in said arrnagement, we figured that we might be able to sleep a little better if we all arranged ourselves like this:

Sleeping like this wasn’t so bad until about two night in, after which I could not take it anymore- explained and illustrated like so:

So I learned that I can not sleep between two people because it gets too damn hot even with the fan on or windows fully open. Personally, lying down and overheating makes me want to vomit, literally. Or technically makes my stomach want to because I am terrified of vomiting. It’s sort of weird because I can talk about vomit all day, but when it comes to literally throwing up, I beg for any other terrible loss of bodily control. Oh yes, so back to this layout. Ah, notice the worried look on thy face and clutching hands over thy belly -classic look of dinner making a comeback, if you get what I mean.

After the second night, I went back to my old spot and let the boys stay where they were.

I was happy with this mismatched and awkward positioning, albeit occasionally being tangled in someone’s huge feet (SAAD). Well let me tell you that sleeping like this lasted about 30 minutes because of this scenario:

Maybe there was too much space between us all or maybe Aiman is really used to having someone being a breath away, but he wasn’t going to tolerate this. It sent panic throughout his system and he shot up and called for me in increasing decibels, which eventually led to this:

Now I was and still am totally fine -of course- with sleeping snuggled nice and tightly with my baby-boo, but I guess the panic of the open space riled him up a little too much because it went from comfy snuggles to toddler-death-grip.

Meanwhile, Saad is completely unaware of any of this going on because I can hardly breath much less call for help. When Aiman was asleep enough I would try to slip my numb arm(s) away or gently place him next to Saad, kid would suddenly be like –you know how a cat gets all super clingy and impossible to de-cling when you try to put it in water?–he would get like that.

So I gave in and looked like this after a few nights:

Exhausted, grumpy, under-eye bags.

Saad? Sleeping like a baby.

Baby? Definitely sleeping like a baby.

Me? A little closer to this:

Obviously he’s nowhere near ready for his own bed, and now I sort of fear what it’ll be like to actually try to make that transition. For the last two nights, he’s been letting me exchange my numb arm for the non-numb one and even change positions every once in a while.

Hurray for progress!

Comments on Co(erced)-sleeping: how we share a sleeping space with our two year old

  1. Our daughter is 4.5 and still cosleeping. My partner would have been thrilled if we quit doing it when she was 6 months old, but she and I are both having a hard time making the break. I’d rather tear my nose hairs out than transition her to a lonely bed upstairs from us.

    That said, our arrangement is: bed-rail, daughter, me (with feet hanging out of blankets–might that help you?), then partner.

  2. i feel bad for you, but at the same time, this is the most hilarious post i’ve ever seen here. very excellent illustrations.

  3. This reminds me of Hyperbole and a Half :). However, unfort I don’t have much advice for you…do you want to transition to them sleeping in their own bed, or, find a more comfortable way to co-sleep?

    • Sleeping in his own bed seems like a distant, nearly impossible dream at this point. I’d be grateful to find a non-distorting sleeping arrangement, really.

      • Great post! What about moving him to a little mattress on the floor next to your bed? You could keep him on your side and that way reach down and pat his back.

        • Or maybe the arms reach co-sleeper if he’s small enough? I know its not the same as sharing a bed but it might be a good way to start making the transition to his own bed while still being very close to each other

          • @Jesscar: Unfortunately, kiddo is too big for a co-sleeper. We’ve never owned one, but this whole thing might’ve been easier if started off in one. And you’re right, it definitely would’ve been a great transitional method.

            Thanks for the input!

        • Thank you Mummy D!

          We currently don’t have the space for another mattress, even a small one, but once we move to our bigger place we’re getting one ASAP.

          I think if we did have the space for one and got him to sleep in it, he’d end up somewhere underneath the bed by morning πŸ˜›

          Thanks for the suggestion!

          • This is what my aunt did when her little baby became a rather gangly mass of kicking kiddie-limbs: she was still in the room with them, but had a small bed, table, lamp, and bookshelf. Every so slowly the bookshelf crept into a wall-like position, signifying the space more as her “room”. Eventually she found herself closing her chunk of room off, and that is when they moved her to the “Big girl room” down the hall.

  4. Does Aiman prefer your snuggles to dad’s, Amira? Seems like Saad should help you out and take turns being the snugle-ee!

    • Oh, the man has tried! Even going as far as placing one of my tops on his chest to sort of “fool” Aiman into thinking it was me by way of my scent, but kiddo can not be fooled even at 2 AM.

      Also, Saad’s skin is just not as silky smooth as mine ;). At least that’s what I think when Aiman is trying to burrow into Saad’s neck-shoulder space.

      • Hahaha I understand… our Dexter was the same way until very recently. At least Saad is trying! I hope you get some relief soon πŸ™

        When Dexter was super little and refused to sleep anywhere but my arms, I set up a pallet for us on the ground when I got too hot in the recliner. I wonder if that would help you? It’s not as stuffy as having the mattress underneath and Saad’s heat won’t be anywhere close to you. Good luck, sweetie :/

  5. We use a bedrail too with our 17 mo. old. I know some day sooner than later, she will have to sleep alone. But it makes me sad thinking about it. I LOVE sleeping with my baby. Even though she is still nursing all night…

  6. Love the illustrations! It is all too familiar and made for a good laugh! We now have two boys (3 years and 5 months). Those first couple of months when the youngest one was co-sleeping meant our older one needed to be in on the family bed thing, too (can’t blame him).

    And why do kids need to be so close? And they know when you move away! I often try to move away from the child (or children) which results in my husband being pushed right up to the wall, a boy (or two) still right up against me and half the bed empty!

    Despite the soreness and bags under my eyes, I love it. Love it.

    Thanks for the Tuesday morning laughs πŸ™‚

  7. My daughter is only 5 months old and I can already relate to your co-sleeping problems! I’ve been given the role of “primary snuggler” and sometimes it’s awesome and other times it’s an almost painful contortion that leaves me looking forward to getting up in the morning. I’m interested to see how it all pans out!

  8. This is hilarious because it’s so true. My 3 year old has finally learned how to go to sleep in his own bed but he still travels to our bed in the middle of the night. Our sleeping arrangement is normally me trying to inch away and him right behind me.

  9. We sidecarted a daybed to our kingsize and it’s helped. Kinda. But oh mama I feel your pain. Mine has started, if she thinks I am going to roll away, applying a deathgrip on/around my side. Damn super toddler strength.

  10. my first son we didn’t co sleep with very long because well he’s a very large toddler. at 14 months old he’s half my height (mind you i’m barely 5 feet tall) and well over 30 lbs so size is an issue he does sleep just feet away in his pack and play so it’s not too bad

    then there his new brother who’s this tiny little thing. way too small for his crib or sleeper so he co sleeps with us and its working out awesome expect for the odd ways i have to sleep which leads me to no sleep but then i worry about this fear of when we as in my partner and i are done with co sleeping how is he going to handle it

  11. I haven’t laughed like this in a long time. My son only sleeps with us from 6-7am, but I can identify with everything!

  12. I can totally relate. My 11 month old sleeps on top of my face when she is not nursing. She is like a cat. She crawls all over and all around me all night. Still, I wouldn’t trade the experience for a transitioned little one. I love the closeness and I know we aren’t ready to do that yet!

  13. Lately, my partner and I have been waking up with our 17-month old lying perpendicular between us. I wouldn’t mind so much except I always get the feet. Oh to have a king-sized bed…

    • ha having a king sized bed won’t help

      my 14 month old when he wakes up and i bring him into our bed he takes up as much room as he possibly can which believe it or not is a lot of space

    • I have to say, our king sized mattress doesn’t really do much. It used to, but Jasper still ends up pushing us all over the place. πŸ™‚

      • i just bought my mattress because we moved into a new house just so it’d fit everyone and i could have saved myself some money instead, but man does it feel nice!

        but i also just put our mattress on the floor for little ones to climb on and off of no fear of anyone falling off!

  14. I’m due in a month and we decided that on a 3 month timeframe for co-sleeping.

    I have a question for more long term co-sleepers. How do you manage intimate time with your partners? Do you feel like you are getting enough time alone together? whether it’s sex, cuddling or whatever…

    • We totally get a good amount of time! I don’t know what you mean by “enough” since it’s different for everyone, but I honestly think breastfeeding ’round the clock was worse on our sex life than co-sleeping ever has been. I will say that we don’t actually have sex in our bed as much as we used to, because it is totally awkward with a snoozing 19 month old hanging out next to you, but without going TOO into it, there are plenty of spots around our apartment that work just fine. πŸ˜‰

    • We initially set a 3-month time frame as well, but that went out the window, obviously…

      Cuddling in bed with Saad is just a little tricker to work around, but not impossible. It IS weird to have the product of your intimacy right next to you as you “re-engage” in said intimacy, but we used to and still make this fort of pillows around him off to a safe area on the bed. It’s easier to stay focused when he’s not RIGHT next to you.

      And as Stephanie mentioned, the bed isn’t the only place for some fun ;).

      • When I say intimacy, I was thinking more than just sex though. For example, we like to hold each other at various times in the night and morning, and talk, and watch movies. I assume that our alone time will be less, but I don’t want it to go away completly, or move to the living room. I guess this is why every family is differnt! In a way it IS kind of unfair that adults get to sleep with someone they love, and kids are expected to be all alone.

        • The beautiful thing about having your baby is that s/he is your baby. If you want cuddling and talk time between you two to be a priority, it will be.

          If you want a 3 month time limit on co-sleeping, you will have a much roomier bed in three months. I would say just remember your priorities and then don’t be hard on yourself if they ever change.

          From personal experience, there is no better cuddle than a peaceful, (which is to say, at 2 1/2 years, rare) big, family cuddle. Change can be a good thing too!

        • We slept with our daughter in between us until she was 6 months old, then we switched, because we missed being able to snuggle. Now we sleep with her at an edge, with a pillow next to her to buffer her from the edge. Our bed is only about a foot off the ground, so we taught her how to get in and out by herself as soon as she started walking, and I don’t worry about her falling out. When she migrates, she ALWAYS migrates toward me anyway!

          Now she’s 15 months old, and she’ll get up in the morning, and play and run around, and we usually will stay in bed for another half an hour. It’s been great, and she always runs back in to check in every few minutes. She’s usually playing with the cat or reading her books.

  15. As much as I thought I missed sleeping with our little one, we had to do it recently on our vacation and I seriously did not sleep for 3 nights due to being kicked in various parts of my body all night. It was sweet when she was lying still… But that was for about 15 minutes. Now I know why when I check on her before I turn in, she is in some insane positions in her crib…! As much as I miss that snuggly little body, I missed my (non-painful) sleep more! Good luck to all you co-sleepers!

    • This is totally me too — I loved cosleeping for the first 3 months, but when Tavi got squirmy and wormy, I was happy to transition to him sleeping on his own. Luckily for us, it was a gentle transition for everyone … I LOVED cosleeping, and I LOVE not being kicked in the head at night now. πŸ™‚

  16. We’re still getting by with a queen size bed co-sleeping with our 3 month old. I woke up from a nap with feet in my armpit the other day, so yeah, that bodes well.

  17. OH MY GOD! You hit the nail on the head! That is EXACTLY the same scenario with our 2 year old, thankfully now days it’s only for the last hour in bed before we get up, she’s in her own bed most of the night now! So funny honey!

  18. Our 4-yr old still trucks into our room in the middle of the night. Can’t co-sleep because if he’s in the middle, he kicks poppa, and if I’m in the middle, I get the same nauseous sweaty feeling as you, Amira! We ended up putting his old crib mattress on the floor right beside me, and I get somewhat more sleep now. The bags under my eyes seem to be lightening. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking!
    Love your illustrations!

  19. we intended to co-sleep long-term with our son, but he was such a wiggler that we gave up and put him into a detached co-sleeper by the time he was 2 months old. We all slept better! I am a little bit sad that we never had that night-time snuggle time but I know I’d never ever get any sleep.

    When we bring him into the bed in the morning for some cuddling we get about 5 minutes of nice cuddling followed by wiggling, rolling, sliding, tickling, poking, scootching, climbing, tackling, and jumping until we give up on sleeping entirely and get up. For some reason I always think “maybe this morning he’ll fall asleep and I can rest a little longer” but no…

    • Just clicking “this” wasn’t enough — this is EXACTLY my experience! 5 minutes of cuddling in the morning and then Tavi’ up and headbanging. πŸ™‚

  20. “It’s sort of weird because I can talk about vomit all day, but when it comes to literally throwing up, I beg for any other terrible loss of bodily control.”

    This is me right down to the letter! And our girl slept at least part of the night in our bed until she was 4 1/2. I think it bothered her daddy more than it did me, but there were definitely nights when none of us got any decent sleep. I wish I had some advice to offer, but all I’ve got is empathy.

  21. Just finished putting our 14-month old to bed, in “our” bed… We’re just starting to work on naps in a crib, and will eventually work on nighttime as well. I’ve loved co-sleeping, but am starting to think life as a non 24-hour diner, as one blogger put it (soulemama.com), might be a good thing. In any case, this was a RIOT! Thank you!!!

  22. This post is hilarious! You co-sleeping mamas always amaze me with your selflessness! I co-slept with my son until he was 6 months and then I couldn’t take it anymore. Now when he’s sick he sometimes sleeps with me for comfort and neither of us get a wink, and it makes me crazy. Good luck to you mama!!

  23. My 5 year old goes to sleep in her own bed like a champ, has for years… until the middle of the night, at which time, she trots into my room, stealthily wiggles under the covers so as to not wake me up, and clings for the rest of the night. In a twin bed.

    I used to make her get up and go back to her own bed, and that’s when she developed her greater powers of stealthiness. Then the cat comes to sleep by my feet, and basically, my body doesn’t move for 6 hours.

    The pediatrician said I should just put a barrier across the opening to my room, but then they (cat and kid) would make noise, and I’d have to wake up all the way, after which I can’t go back to sleep, resulting in net less sleep. So I’m just repeating to her every day that “first graders don’t do this”, which gives her about 9 months to figure out how to stop. (Hey, it worked for potty-training.)

    When she was 2, the doctor was all “it’s not like she’ll be doing it when she’s 4.” Hah.

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