I never thought I'd be a co-sleeper. In fact, I didn't know it even had a name. I'm pretty sure I used to be one of those childless people who are shocked -- SHOCKED! -- to hear that people sleep with their babies.
Then HellBoy arrived.
At first he was all AngelBaby. I had him in a little sidecar bassinet, which worked well enough. He slept a couple-three hours at a time, woke to nurse, and went back to sleep. He was so light (5lbs 14oz at birth) that it was nothing to pop him in and out. Plus, I needed to arrange myself elaborately with the nursing pillow, the glass of water, etc., etc., so there was no chance I could sleep through it.
Then he got a couple weeks older, and started to protest at being put back in the bassinet. But I was terrified that I would smother him if I kept him in bed. So I just nursed him more often. And got more and more sleep deprived.
Finally I did it -- I let him stay next to me (with a roll guard to help prevent smothering). And he was soooo happy. And I got sooooo much more sleep. But I felt sooooo embarrassed about it. So I did what I usually do when I feel uneasy: I studied the issue. I learned that this had a name, and fierce proponents and opponents, and some (crappy) data -- but basically that it was a perfectly reasonable option. Meanwhile, I got addicted to the extra sleep, and to the nice feeling of a cuddly baby in bed. TrophyHusband was perfectly happy to have the baby there, so that wasn't an issue.
Then we learned how to nurse lying down, and it was all over. NO WAKING UP TO FEED THE BABY. SLEEP!!! I was the best-rested new mother on the planet. But oh, the reactions from other people. The horror -- the horror! It was actually kind of fun to taunt people with it. I took the baby in to work to show him off, and the first question everybody asked was, "How's he sleeping?" To which I would reply, "Oh, he sleeps great. Just wakes up to eat and goes back to sleep ..." at which point the listener would be smiling happily, until I added, "... of course, he sleeps with us." Three-quarters of the time the smile would morph into a look of alarm. "Oh, you can't do that!" was the typical response. "Why not?" I'd ask. "Because ... because ... eventually he's going to have to learn to sleep by himself!" was the best that anyone could come up with. OK -- so he can learn now, or he can learn later. I pick later.
But I still felt strangely ashamed. I'm still not sure why -- perhaps because I was taking the easy way out. But it just felt so right for us. Plus, our two enormous cats slept with us every night, and it seemed absurd to kick the baby out of bed and then turn around and invite the cats up.
Finally one night I sat up and said, "We're getting a king-sized bed." TrophyHusband immediately recognized this as a turning point, because up until then I had always viewed king beds as an outrageous excess. No one needs that much room! Which is kind of funny, because I really need my space in bed -- I'm always shooing TH, aka CuddleMonkey, away from me.
So now here we are, over a year later. Our typical routine is that around 8:15 pm I sit and nurse AngelBaby until he rolls over and falls asleep, then I put him in his crib. TH and I get to have the bed to ourselves (plus a cat or two) until about 1 am, when the baby wakes up and hollers, at which point TH fetches him into bed. Then we all sleep happily until about 5, when the baby wakes up to nurse a little more. Usually after that he sleeps till 7 or 8. And we all feel pretty rested most of the time.
Does AngelBaby need this, or do we? I think it's both. He's an intense baby; he never fusses, he becomes apoplectic. So we have to choose our battles. But also, we work full time; I feel comfortable having him in daycare, but when I'm with him, I want to be really with him. And he's not a cuddly baby most of the time, so it's gratifying to have our fill of snuggling, even if it's while he's asleep.
Works for us.