It's Tricky

Two nights ago Ben had his first night in a crib, which as you can see from the rather pants picture that I faffed with in an effort to distract myself, is a close to the side of my bed as it can be. I’d say it is as close to my side of the bed as the side of the bed he has spent the last two months sleeping on. He’s been going through the night from 10.30 to 6ish for the last week or so and once I’d (irrationally) got past the 13th April, it felt like time to let Max back into his bed and get Ben into his crib.

I did okay that night, though he only lasted till 4am or so, but we managed feeding in the dark and snuggling up with three of us for the last couple of hours and I didn’t find him being on a different mattress too hard for the first part.

Last night though, I just couldn’t do it. With the throw away sentence I read about cot death going round and round my head, I lay there straining to hear him breathe, bothered by the lack of his habitual snuffle and trying to hear him over the sound of Max’s snore. I’ve not been immune to cot death panics since he was born, I must have struggled to sleep worrying he will be gone in the morning once a week since we came home, but I thought I was getting better. With those panics last night came a horrible set of flashbacks to Freddie’s last hour and that was it then. I just started to fear that Ben would be gone by morning and a cot would be the reason for it. I was frightened, having had instincts with him and Freddie, that to not get him out of his cot would be ignoring and instinct and that he might need to be near me that night to stay alive.

I don’t think that’s very likely or logical now. Trouble is knowing when you are being irrational and new mother-ish; lots of things that seemed like logical worries 6 weeks ago now have me shaking my head at myself.

I’m not particularly an intentional co-sleeper, though we’ve done it plenty but neither of us are a light as we were and Max has been on the floor for 2 months and needs a bed again. I don’t want to HAVE to have Ben in my bed and I don’t want Max to be on the floor forever either. I thought this would be easier than it is proving though. I don’t want to be clingy or panicky and I don’t want Ben to be in our bed if he doesn’t need it or beyond a point where we hit a habit rather than a need scenario.

Last night though I just started to cry and once that happened I had to pick him up and bring him in with me – and the relief was as physical as when a baby starts feeding and ceases to wail. He slept fine beside me. Max didn’t even notice – and all was well.

I just don’t really want to set things up I can’t break myself of. I’m not worried about him, I know children move out of the bed when they are ready, but he deserves better than to be relied on to live or have me being needy about him. It’s not supposed to be that way round. I think maybe I didn’t express myself well enough when I tried to articulate how distressed I was by this event this morning. It isn’t right for it to be me that can’t let him do what he’s ready for – that’s all wrong.

I thought it would be easy once he was here and alive and the pregnancy was over. Turns out that was just the beginning part. Now I know babies – children – can die, I’m not sure how I’m ever going to be able to feel safe again.

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  1. Ruth says

    You are being way too hard on yourself Merry. I’ve never had a child die but I still had all of mine in with me until they were a year old. Just do what you have to do ((hugs)) and maybe buy bigger bed 😉

    • says

      I’m happier with big kids in than tiny really. We’re both nervous of smothering him while he’s so tiny (never were before). Poor Max is looking a bit rough on two months on the floor though.

  2. Rachel says

    Merry we put joe on a sensor mat, as it made me less nervous, maybe it might allow you to relax a tiny bit and I know that’s not easy, but they sometimes do alarm when there is no problem, but they did allow me to get better sleep.

  3. says

    I think nine months in nine months out would be PLENTY of time to worry that you’re not coping as well as you might with the lack of umbilical cord tying him safely to you.

  4. Lucy says

    My little boy is seven and I still occasionally drag him out of his bed in the middle of the night so I can snuggle him in my bed. I think it is okay to rely on them a bit too, it is a two way relationship and when I think back I realise that a lot of the decisions I made ‘in their best interests’ were actually as much about me as them. Not me and them, but us.

  5. says

    Merry, I think possibly you are being a little hard on yourself. I think it’s ok, normal even to feel as you do. I think it’s wonderful how you can recognise Ben’s needs as seperate from his rainbowness, infact you’ve often given me pause for thought regarding Ernest, but I think if it settles your heart to sleep with your baby, that’s perfectly normal, even for those that haven’t lost a child as we have.
    Maybe you could consider shuffling your sleeping arrangements so he can be in bed with you and Max?
    I’m certain you’ve already considered this.

    • says

      Trouble is, rather selfishly, I’m also desperate for some time where Max and I can just be near each other. I feel like I’ve been holding on really tight for a long time and I just ant us to be back to going to sleep near each other again. I need a cuddle and a long cry.

  6. Judy says

    Dearest Merry
    Fin and Miles still sleep with me from about 4.30ish probably about 3 nights out of 7, one always pops in and snuggles back to sleep. Fin slept with us every night until I was pregnant with Miles. We bought a bigger bed so we could all fit in. I am not sure whether that is right or wrong, however we all like it, they feel safe and sometimes I feel need the need to have them near when they have had a bad day at school to make them feel safe and loved, so my advice would be by a Super King Size bed!!! I love you and think of you lots, I am here if you need anything. xxxxxxxxxx

    • says

      Unfortunately room not big enough and am sentimentally attached to my bed (delivered the week you stayed, remember?) That’s my pillow in the pic though, he’s right by me. Bedside cot with side down would be better.

  7. says

    Anything you feel you need to do is the right thing. Many parents need their babies with them for the first little while and so the need must be even more present after losing Freddie. Lucas just wouldnt sleep so well in a crib so he has been in bed with us and still is, just do what you feel is best. (((hugs)))

    • says

      The annoying thing is he is completely fine. He ets held constantly but he’s quite happy to sleep in his crib. I’m not sure I’m supposed to lean on him really. (Needy mummy :) )

      PS, thanks for the email :)

  8. says

    Whatever you decide to do will be right. For you, for Ben and for Max.

    If you do want him in with you, I’m with Judy, go for a super king size! We are a tallish family, I’m 5’8 and hubs 6’4, so we are not the most petite bunch to squeeze in a bed but we can all get in. J has never really liked sleeping with us apart from when very little and R less so too now but it did make me feel slightly safer, to have them close. I know that feeling of relief your describe so perfectly. I *needed* them. Far, far more than they ever needed me I suspect. I just wanted to feel that I was close to them. But I am all too aware that safety is only ever an illusion :(

  9. says

    All I can say, is if I was in your position, I wouldn’t want baby to be anywhere else but in my bed. We used to have a cot sidecarred to the bed, same height as my mattress and with the side taken off. That way it was like one big bed and we could all fit, and I could see the babies when they were sleeping. I never liked the bassinette because I had to keep lifting my head to see them. There was also no option for a bassinette with the twins, so they were in the cot up against the bed from day one. I guess he will tell you if he doesn’t like it, either way he sleeps. I can completely understand your anxiety and I also think you’re being too hard on yourself. You don’t sound like the ‘cry it out’ sort of mother to me so I don’t think it’s bad to meet your needs too. He, and you would benefit. Much love and self compassion to you dear Mama. You’re doing a great job, and I really mean that. xoxoxo

  10. Angela says

    And that’s why I began counseling when Bennett was four months old. My anxiety was overwhelming, I needed help managing it. Thinking of you.

  11. says

    Oh Merry, I’d echo what everyone has said above – go gentle on yourself. It’s only a few days past Freddie’s 2nd anniversary – you are doing so well at this rainbow baby gig, but there are bound to be a few stressful patches. Do what works to settle yourself and stay sane. Sending love, h

  12. says

    Juliet slept in with me every single night until she was four months old then I moved her in to the basinette right next to my side of the bed. Then at 6 months, she went in to her room in the cot (same room as Angus). But I followed her cues, she was ready to have some more space and I was a bit shocked to find she was actually sleeping better with out me. Angus is still in in our bed every night, but normally not until about 4-5am now. There is no right or wrong way here, only what works for you and your family. I know I always say this to you, but you are doing a wonderful job.

  13. Evsie says

    I think you’re too hard on yourself….and you need a bigger bed. Maybe even a large mattress on the floor. It might work for you and ease your fears – you and Max and Ben can be in bed together without fear of smothering or falling out of bed.
    He’s so small still there’s no need in separating “need” from “habit”…I don’t really know when it properly starts. I have both my husband and my now 2 year old in bed with me still. And while it’d be nice to have a bit more space sometimes I feel that it’s working for us. I work full-time and feeling my little boy’s warm body and hearing his breathing during the night is comforting and “re-connecting” for me. Whose need is this? I don’t know, I think we all need it a bit. Maybe some of it is a habit too. But who cares? It’s not hurting anyone.

    Maybe you can find a sleeping arrangement that will let you have both of your men close :)

  14. says

    I wish I could take away the knowledge that babies can die, I wish you didn’t have to know that ‘for real’ rather than just as a vague idea. (I’m rolling my eyes because every time I try to write something here, I convince myself that it is rubbish & want to delete it.)

    Re. co-sleeping though … all my babies have slept with us when they were tiny, and then we’ve just done a bed-hopping thing after that. I had the intention that they would sleep in the cot for the first part of the night (didn’t always work out that way), and then I would bring them in to bed at the first feed. Where will Ben sleep when he is big enough to move out of your room … is it an option to get a single bed put in there, so that Max can sleep there if/when your bed gets too crowded? Mine have all gone in to beds quite young (Emily because she was a demon climbing child, and the alternative was inverting the cot to make a cage for her, the others mostly just because that was what we had done with Emily) – I found it useful having a single bed to snuggle on with a sleepless toddler – marginally more comfortable than falling asleep on the floor with your arm wedged through the cot bars & a dent in your forehead.

  15. says

    just to echo- I haven’t lost a baby and remember the regular panic of ‘are they breathing’ and ‘are they sleeping or ….’ many, many nights and wondered if I’m normal. Well, I might not be- but I really feel your anxiety isn’t sounding any worse than a mum who hasn’t been through what you have been through (and you are perfectly entitled to it, either way!).
    No room for a bigger bed- we have a normal cot, side removed, length of rope tied around big bed and attached to cot (so no gap between the two, no possibility of cot sliding away) and cot useful for me to nudge into (babe in middle) and somewhere to put my book. Or, put your bed in storage and all of you sleep on the floor?

  16. Hannah F says

    Hope you find a solution that works for all of you, but definitely don’t worry about being too needy. Sounds like Ben is pretty easy going and will sleep either in the crib or in your bed but basically all babies like being near mum better than anything else and he is way too young for it to be habit forming anyway. If you need him to be right there so that you can sleep well, then go ahead – he won’t mind! Perhaps if you do put him in the crib you could tell yourself it’s okay to move him if you need to, and then you might be less likely to need to because you have given yourself permission to do it so you won’t have to worry about it – maybe that’s a bit mad but it’s the kind of weird logic that works for me! With all my babies I’ve tended to start off the night with them in the crib until the first feed and then they’ve stayed in the bed, but I have been known to bring a baby in the bed for my own reassurance from time to time, and my husband has just had to shove up!

  17. Rosemary says

    I don’t like it when there is no post from you for a weekish. Are you OK in a general sense? Our 30th anniversary of losing our first daughter was on 22nd and it made me think of you especially. I hope the blog activity will recommence – your ‘public’ needs you :-)

    • says

      I am. It was a very busy week and our broadband was down :) thinking of you and your little one too. 30 years. That’s a long time to have to miss someone :/

  18. says

    I’d really recommend a bedside cot, they’re fab. They give just enough extra width that your baby has enough room and so do you, and, when they’re a bit older, they can choose to roll away and have their own space, or snuggle up to you. I co-slept with the first two without one, and then got one for the next two. Wouldn’t have been without it once I’d tried it.

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