Bored Housewives Network

Getting through the day, one bonbon at a time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ask a Bored Housewife: The Family Bed

Our first letter!
Dear Bored Housewives,

When I and others of my generation were babies in North America, we slept in cradles, cribs, or (if one's parents were not well off) dresser drawers. Sometimes these baby beds were located in our parents' bedrooms, but even some of our grandparents found that a bit outre, in case a baby were to wake up, see her parents in flagrante and be scarred for life.

But now it seems as though all of my contemporaries who have kids are all about the family bed -- in other words, sharing the parents' full-size grownup bed with the baby. Aren't you concerned that being in such close and, I daresay, intimate proximity with his parents is going to cause your son to grow up, get sex-reassignment surgery, and be known as "Mother Shabooboo"? I hear some parents say the idea is for the mother to be able to nurse the baby in the middle of the night without getting up, but shouldn't you have realized when you decided to reproduce that you were going to be personally inconvenienced?

I think the family bed concept is for Communists, hippies, and poor people. So why are so many of my friends doing it? They aren't hippies, are they? Oh God, tell me they're not hippies!

A Barren, Childless Person

Great topic! I already know my thoughts on the subject (which I'll post, of course), but I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone else's answers. Give 'er, Bored Housewives!


  • At 10:39 PM, Blogger Jennifer (ponderosa) said…

    At 3 oclock in the morning we do not much care whether our child grows up to become Mother Shabooboo as long as we. get. some. sleep!

    Personally inconvenienced? I would love to be personally inconvenienced ... rather than, as is currently the case, beaten to a pulp. In certain places more than others.

    This is a joke. Well, ok, it's completely true. No, it's a joke! It is!

  • At 5:50 AM, Blogger landismom said…

    When I was a kid, my parents had cocktails every night--manhattans, mostly. I now realize that if you're suffering from the kind of sleep deprivation that having children can (and usually will) bring you, it's inevitable that you'll need something to dull the pain. Some of us prefer to stave off the sleep deprivation of a new parent via the family bed (risking the gender reassignment surgery), some of us prefer to mix whiskey with sweet vermouth and bitters, and garnish it with a cherry.

    Sadly, good liquor is expensive, and we already owned the bed.

  • At 10:17 AM, Blogger queen of the harpies said…

    The Boy got the crib treatment, while Mia got the family bed (until she was six months old) and they’ve both turned out to be deeply, deeply disturbed people. But they’re about equally disturbed, so I don’t think it was the sleep habits.

    Truth be told, with The Boy, I had more time to dick around. I could take a nap when he napped during the day, so I could suffer a little at night. With Mia, I had to use the nap times to reassure The Boy that I still cared to finger paint. Also to clean my increasingly insanely messy house. (The only person ‘crying it out’ would have been me.) Also – I’m a bit crunch-granola, I don’t mind telling you. I had a homebirth and a midwife, for crying out loud.

    By the way, housewives, I was in my early twenties when I had those kids – like at the age when people regularly pull all-nighters. Now, in my early thirties, there is no fucking way I’d be willing to give up any of the sleep I get. How are you – those of you around my age now – doing the baby thing? I’m in awe of you. From the perspective of a full-night’s sleep, I salute you.

  • At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The title may be a joke, but it's not a funny one, at least not to anyone who truly cannot have children, like myself. It's the first time I've encountered any nastiness from you, Doppelganger, and it's not pleasant. Who's next on the list for your mockery?

  • At 10:53 AM, Blogger Tammy said…

    Whoa... I'm not a nasty person, and no nastiness was intended. The title was suggested by a friend who does not have children, and it was ENTIRELY meant to mock people with children who look down their noses at people who don't. I'm sorry you're offended by it. If you'd like to suggest a better title -- as I mentioned, this is just a working one -- please do.

  • At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Re the title: Not cool, guys. Making a cruel comment and then saying it's a joke doesn't make it any less cruel. Show a little sensitivity, for heaven's sake. Imagine a site for singles or childless couples that has a feature titled "A Stay-At-Home Mom We Secretly Think Is A Little Pathetic Asks..." -- doesn't it sting a little?

  • At 11:10 AM, Blogger Tammy said…

    As for the family bed question, before Sam came along I only had a vague notion of the co-sleeping concept, and the few people I knew of who co-slept (or who talked about it, anyway) were, in fact, hippie types. Heh. So I was predisposed to think that co-sleeping was a hippie thing, and since I'm CERTAINLY not a hippie (despite being a vegetarian and a vitamin and supplement junkie and, er, a member of PeTA), it never occurred to me for a second that Sam would end up in our bed.

    Sam, however, had other ideas from the get-go. Starting with his first night ex utero, when he screamed -- SCREAMED! -- until we picked him up and cuddled him back to sleep. Then we put him in the bassinet sound asleep. And he woke up seconds later and screamed until we picked him up again. Even your staunchest "crying it out" advocates know that you don't do CIO with newborns, so we pretty much caved instantly.

    We kept thinking that we'd eventually transition Sam to a bassinet in our room or to the crib in his room, but absolutely to no avail. He's a stubborn kid. (He gets that from his father.) And we were pretty agreeable to it, so long as we were all sleeping well. It's pretty cozy, actually, once you get used to the idea that you're not going to smother your baby in your sleep.

    But things went south when Sam started to get increasingly restless at night. We moved him into his own crib around a month ago, with a surprisingly minimal amount of fuss, because he'd taken to using me as a pillow and would position himself with his head resting on my stomach and his feet kicking his dad in the ribs. All night long. Or sometimes he'd switch the other way and lie perpindicularly between us, so that he could simultaneously kick me in the ribs and pull on his dad's armpit hair. Good times!

    As for the Mother Shabooboo thing (heheh), I figure Sam's already pretty intimately acquainted with my mom bits, and he sees my boobs on a regular basis, so the damage has already been done.

    We'll definitely share our bed with Baby #2, if B#2 seems to prefer that, but we'll probably do a few things differently, such as baby-proof our bed right away, teach the baby to at least nap in the crib during the day from the beginning, and transition the baby to the crib at nighttime a bit earlier.

    Oh, and all those parents who say they don't co-sleep? Are kind of kidding themselves. Almost every parent I've ever talked to has admitted to napping with their baby or bringing their baby into bed at 3 am... whatever helps the baby -- and them -- get some sleep. Most of them just don't call it co-sleeping, but it's all pretty much the same thing, in my opinion.

  • At 11:16 AM, Blogger Tammy said…

    "Imagine a site for singles or childless couples that has a feature titled "A Stay-At-Home Mom We Secretly Think Is A Little Pathetic Asks..." -- doesn't it sting a little?"

    Well, no, not really. I mean, it's not a secret that a lot of people make no bones about the fact that they think SAHMs are pathetic. So if I read a title like that, I'd either write it off as pretty predictable fare, or else I'd look at the context, see that it's a joke, and think it's funny.

    However. I think that comparing a SAHM to a person who would like to have children and can't is kind of apples and oranges, so your question is kind of moot. I've said from the start that I'd like to use a different title, so rather than get in a big debate about this one, I'm going to put on my thinking cap, and I'd welcome any suggestions from the gallery.

    Just so y'all know, I've dealt with my own reproductive problems and issues, so I'm not blind to the fact that this is a sensitive issue for some. Okay?

  • At 11:32 AM, Blogger Tammy said…

    Note the new title, all. And my sincere apologies for forgetting that everyone has skin of different thicknesses. Having thicker skin myself doesn't absolve me from being sensitive, something I need to be reminded of from time to time.

    So, no hard feelings please? And let's move along with the topic at hand:

    Cosleeping children vs Bedlice: Which are more pernicious?

  • At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I thought the original title was funny. I think you were using something called irony?

    Anyway, we do the family bed thing. Just kind of happened. Wasn't a big deal. We like it fine, and our 4 year seems pretty normal so far, whatever "normal" is. She's actually about to get her own bed now. Anyway, I guess our temperments are suited for this sort of thing. I imagine it wouldn't work for everyone.

    Oh, and I'm a father ... so, sorry for not being a bored housewife, I guess.

  • At 12:07 PM, Blogger landismom said…

    Y'know, I've been meaning to carp on you about the fact that I'm neither bored nor a housewife.


    I think the new title is, while less dramatic, good.

  • At 12:48 PM, Blogger Melissa said…

    HHHmmm. Just wanted to say that i, too thought the original title was funny, doppelganger. i think anyone who reads your / our posts in the context they are presented in this forum sould know that it wasn't meant it in a mean or insensitive way. anyway, that was our first bit of controversy on the BHN & i must admit i found it kind of exciting. but then again, i'm a bored housewife!

    We co-sleep. some nights i like it (because i don't have to get out of bed to nurse), and other nights i don't like it so much because i can't roll over & move freely in bed. (also partially because our pug sleeps in bed with us too & 4 is a CROWD). we made the decision to have a family bed out of necessity rather than free-spirited hippy inclinations. i was tired & not getting enough sleep & found that when i nursed him in bed i too could get some rest. the main problem i have found with this is that now i can not get him to go sleep on his own because he is so use to someone sleeping next to him. i even have to lay down with him to get him to fall asleep for naps. it sort of defeats the purpose of nap time (for me) because i have to lay there so i can't get anything done - a source of some frustration for me.

  • At 1:13 PM, Blogger Melissa said…

    We are neither hippies nor Communists, but we started co-sleeping out of necessity. As a new parent you will do anything to get some sleep. The first night we brought the baby home, we put her in her co-sleeper (a sidecar attachment next to the bed--the brilliant idea was that she would be nearby for nursing but not IN the bed with us). She promptly woke up screaming, and that was the end of that. She slept on my chest for a few weeks, then next to me. At four months none of us were sleeping well anymore, and since the whole point of the arrangement was to get more sleep, we moved her to her crib.

    So yes, we did know we were going to be personally inconvenienced, but you underestimate the power of sleep deprivation and of what happens to a mother when she hears her baby crying. If there is an easy way to make both of those things go away, it's a no-brainer.

    Oh, and about the in flagrante part: HAHAHAHAHAHA. When you have just pushed out a strapping baby, this is the LAST thing on your mind. I will say no more.

  • At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i sleep with my two month old daughter in the bed with me for a number of reasons.

    the first is that i am a single mom and i got tired of being the only one to get up out of bed, go to the crib and put the binky back in her mouth / soothe her crying / obsessivly compulsivly make sure she's still breathing.

    the first night i brought her to bed with me it was great! if she started to fuss, all i had to do was reach over and rub her head (which is what seems like the best way to calm her down). and after feeding her, instead of either holding her for what seems like ages, or letting her cry herself to sleep in her crib, i just lay with her in my arms for about ten minutes and she's out like a light.

    i disagree with what this barren, childless person says about 'didn't we all know we were going to be personally inconvienienced?'

    of course we all knew that. but not all of us are doing it alone - not all of us are there for every single feeding, and diaper change, and crying time ... and i may be wrong, but i think that the person who wrote this post would be a little less skeptical about the family bed situation if she had her own child, because then she would certainly know that if you find something that works for you and your baby - you stick with it, no matter what other people say.

  • At 4:48 PM, Blogger Anne-Marie said…

    We don't co-sleep mostly because hubby wasn't really into it... But, let me tell you, on those nights where I'm getting up 3-4 times a night, in the cold cold winter, I'm certainly wishing we co-slept!

  • At 7:11 PM, Blogger Cataclysm said…

    Ahh - Love this!

    I mentioned "co-sleep" to a friend of my mothers who is a therapist... she didn't really get it (and has 2 sons who are 15 years apart)... she was like, "Co-sleep?!? Does that mean when he's in his room sleeping and you are sleeping too?"

    And another friend of my moms was so appalled that her daughter still co-slept with her grandson (who is 3 or 4) that she bought little Michael a single bed for Xmas. So now that's where her son-in-law sleeps. Better than the sofa I guess...

    To be honest, I was totally against co-sleeping in the early days of Rian: a. we like lots of pillows; b. we like heavy warm duvets even in the summer; and c. deep sleep was a goal of ours. I totally relaxed after he was 6 months old as he was up more with teething pain and the chance of SIDS is minimal.

    Now Rian is on a strictly 'crib-only' sleep regime given he's a squirmy-worm who, even when exhausted, loves to crawl out of our bed and chat on the phone. We just moved the mattress on the floor a month or so ago and play on the bed a lot, even if he's banned from sleeping there...

    Now about the name... I've also thought our "Network" was a bit of a stretch too. I think we're more of an exclusive club... whaddya call them, "Executive Clubs"...

    As for annoymous, whats up?!? I can see absolutely no reason to be childless if you don't want to be. Take a browse through your local Child Services webpages to see all the children looking for temp or permanent homes. It'll break your heart. There are 15 million AIDS orphans worldwide. Open your home to one or two or three of them. Have you seen a Chinese girl baby just out of an orphanage? Their heads are totally flat and bald on that spot because they spend their formative months lying on their backs.

    Being a parent is SO LITLLE about a tiny bit a DNA and giving birth (which isn't a picnic), its about 'parenting'... like making choices of where your child sleeps, if he or she's is going to eat peas or carrots or Cheerios for dinner, and taking them to soccor practice on Weds nights.

    Read this site and you'll see parenting is about being thrilled that your child eat grapes like a madman or who took their first steps. Its about the anger/pain of a mother whose 6-year old girl who gets teased because of hair on her legs.

    Moreover, being a parent is about constantly feeling like we can never ever do enough for these little people because we love them so much. O barren one, get yourself a child (there are over 15 million who have no parents) and them come back to us!


  • At 7:58 PM, Blogger Cataclysm said…

    Not to ice the cake of my somewhat mispelled last posting to 'Annoymously Barren', but for some grim reading on Chinese orphanages, Human Right Watch published this:

    "The evidence largely official documents cited in detail below indicates that the likelihood of survival beyond one year, for a newly admitted orphan in China’s welfare institutions nationwide, was less than 50 percent in 1989."

    Wanna guess how these babies, mostly girls, die??? Not to put too fine a point on it but its because they don't have parents.
    'Nuff said.

  • At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Jonah slept in our room for the first seven weeks of his life. His sleeping time was spent 50-40-10 in his pack in play, our bed, and his baby chair (the latter when he had a cold). We would have moved him to his own room earlier, except that we had a bunch of visitors staying with us.

    From then on, he's occasionally slept with us (until I weaned him, it was mostly when I fall asleep feeding him) but, for the most part, he's been happy in his own room. Like Rian, he is very wiggly, and none of us sleep particularly well when he is in our bed. Well, he may, but we end up with bruises!

    I honestly can't imagine anything better than the system we have now. He falls asleep incredibly well at 7:30 p.m. and sleeps until 7 a.m. without interruption. When he does wake up in the night, I feel exhausted the next day. It is hard to believe that I used to wake up 2 or 3 times a night and feel fine in the morning. ;)

  • At 5:19 AM, Blogger Katie said…

    We didn't co-sleep with our daughter. We'd never heard of it so it wasn't even a consideration. She was in her crib in her room from day one. Just recently we've started taking her in our bed if she is sick or having a bad night. We don't intend to co-sleep when #2 is born this summer either. My husband is a very deep very aggressive sleeper and it would make us uncomfortble. But he/she will be in our room to make those midnight feedings easier and also to hopfully avoid waking big sis. Because, really? If only one member of our family can get any sleep at night? I want it to be the 2 year old!

  • At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just wanted to say I noticed the title change and I appreciate it. In general, it's not the most accurate use of the word "barren" to describe (or self-describe) a person or people who are childless by choice. Thank you for your considerate response. Thanks also to cataclysm for the adoption info -- our interest in alternative parenthood is the reason I, child-free yet curious, lurk on the bored housewives network.

  • At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To everyone offended -- I wrote the letter, I'm the self-described "barren, childless" person, I was referring only TO MYSELF, and I was JOKING.

    Feel free to take it up with me in email if you're still bothered:

  • At 12:48 PM, Blogger Joanne said…

    How are you – those of you around my age now – doing the baby thing? I’m in awe of you. From the perspective of a full-night’s sleep, I salute you.

    I'm almost 38 and extremely tired. I have wished more than once that I started having babies in my early 20's. I didn't get married until I was 36, and got pregnant six weeks after I got married, so I was practically SHOTGUN but I'm still OLD. With an "e".

    "Most of them just don't call it co-sleeping, but it's all pretty much the same thing, in my opinion."

    Well, I am the ONE who doesn't co sleep, then, no matter how you call it. But it's not by choice! The first three or four weeks, we did "sleep" in the same bed, if by that you mean constant nursing and twitchily snoring on my or my husband's chest. Anthony would never, ever lie down and sleep next to us. In fact, he has never fallen asleep anywhere except in his crib and just lately, in his car seat. It was MURDER, and let's face it, in those early weeks, if he had slept well on the roof I would have put him there. GLADLY.

  • At 2:59 PM, Blogger Tammy said…

    "The first night we brought the baby home, we put her in her co-sleeper (a sidecar attachment next to the bed--the brilliant idea was that she would be nearby for nursing but not IN the bed with us). She promptly woke up screaming, and that was the end of that. She slept on my chest for a few weeks, then next to me. At four months none of us were sleeping well anymore, and since the whole point of the arrangement was to get more sleep, we moved her to her crib."

    See, Melissa? As we've always speculated, Sam and Baby A: separated at birth. It's uncanny.

  • At 9:06 PM, Blogger Melissa said…

    It is uncanny! We should just start planning their wedding RIGHT NOW. She's okay with being the older woman (by a few days).

    Speaking of age, I'm about to turn 35, and I think longingly of the days when I could stay up all night and be completely fresh in the morning. These days I get a reasonable amount of sleep, but the early days were really rough.


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