Friday, August 21, 2009

Co-sleeping and breastfeeding

Right now, Nanook is completely within my care. She has been for every beat of her heart, every movement she's made, every everything. Completely within my protection and embrace and warmth. Once she's born, that connection will be broken. I'll still be able to put her on my chest and let her hear my heartbeat and breath (which she has never existed without hearing), but the possibility remains that she will one day need to be in a different room than I am. This is mildly terrifying.

I understand that we'll grow into it, and I understand that it's necessary for both of us to do this growing. I am in no hurry.

For starters, the idea that she would sleep in another room is out of the question. Completely. That increases the risk of SIDS, lowers the amount of REM sleep in both mama and baby, lowers the frequency of feeding, and produces babies with less secure attachments to their parents. Out of the question.

But I'm not sure I can even put her in her crib on the other side of the room. I don't even want her in a bassinet next to the bed. At this stage of our relationship, she is a part of me. She's more than just a part of me, but my breath is her breath, my emotions (made up of hormones and endorphins) are her emotions, and my motions, my consumptions, everything is shared. This level of connection is completely unbroken and completely unprecedented in my life. She has developed entirely within me, and so is a part of me for now. Asking me to put her 2 feet away while we sleep is like asking me to let you take her to the moon. Utterly inconceivable. I actually lack the capacity to understand what that would be like.

At some point, I will have to go to the bathroom. I'm pretty sure this is how our separation will start. I'll leave her with Mirus and I'll go to the bathroom and have so much distance between us. That will be baffling. But we will both be ok, and after a few days we'll have mastered being apart for however long it takes to go to the bathroom.

Then, I'll want a shower. Strange, but personal hygiene seems to be the main thing separating me from my daughter in these predictions.

Eventually, it will be ok for her to be in another room or not actually touching me. I have no idea how long it will take us to reach this point. I do know that I'm not interested in sleeping apart. That's too long, and it already feels like a vulnerable time because I'm not able to be as vigilant.

"Do you have the nursery all decorated?"
"No, you cannot take my baby to the moon."

This makes sense to me.

Moving on:
I know some people who are incredibly discreet about breastfeeding. They do not want anyone to see or suspect their child nursing. I know other people at the opposite end of the spectrum. Whip-out-the-boob-and-then-go-find-the-child types. I don't know where I'll fall. I'm not interested in perpetuating the idea that breastfeeding needs to be covered or hidden, I'm also not interested in using my body to initiate conversations about breastfeeding on a regular basis. I just want to feed my kid, and have that be allright. I'll probably cover in some situations (professional settings, during church, etc.) and let it all hang out in other settings (pediatrician's office, parks, private homes). I suppose there is a good reason to push the envelope and initiate conversations about the importance of normalizing breastfeeding, but I highly doubt I'll want to have that conversation on a regular basis.

I don't know where exactly I'll fall on this spectrum.


  1. "Whip-out-the-boob-and-then-go-find-the-child" made me laugh soooo hard!! Lovin your thoughts here, right on, right on indeed.

  2. you will find the balance. cosleeping is the best thing we ever did (right after breastfeeding). and in my two years of breastfeeding ro, i only ever got one nasty comment about my nursing in public at logan airport in boston.
    you do what you need to do for you and for your baby. that, my friend, is the long and short of it.

    --lindsay w.