The Thing I Said I Would Never Do: Co-sleeping

I’ve mentioned before on here how I was trying to avoid co-sleeping—sharing a bed with the baby. I know that humans have done it for centuries and that many cultures around the world still do. My parents and my in-laws did it too. I even read about how to do it safely. But it really did not sound like it was for me. I am very particular about my sleep because I struggled with insomnia in the past. Plus, it just seemed so weird. I wanted to share my bed with my husband, not our child. I brought it up to Michael and he said he will do whatever makes me happy. So agreed Jack would sleep in his own bed every night.

Clockwise: On the monitor in his crib, on the monitor in
the bassinet, in his pack n play, and in his swing.

We bought Jack a lovely crib and fixed up the bassinet Michael used as baby. We also bought a Pack n Play for when we visit family and friends. And we got a swing second-hand from a friend. Jack had plenty of places to sleep, no need to even give co-sleeping a second thought. When Jack was born, he was pretty willing to sleep anywhere.

At the hospital, he was so tired it was like talking to a zombie.

We started putting him in his crib at first, but getting up 10 times a night got old fast. What we didn’t consider is that babies wake-up every 2-3 hours to nurse at night. And sometimes, even every 45 minutes. And we didn’t realize how exhausted we would be from the whole birth experience. Do you know how much it sucks to get up every hour when you are still sore from pushing a baby out? Do you know your husband will be a zombie from not being able to sleep much at the hospital? That went on for about a week before we decided to try something else.

Then we tired putting him in the crib for the first part of the night when he slept the longest, then after I nursed him sitting up in put bed and I put him in the bassinet next to me. So when he woke up again, all I had to do was reach over and pick him. It was so much easier, but we still weren’t getting enough good sleep some nights.

One day three weeks postpartum, I woke up very very sore. It hurt to sit up to nurse him. My mom mentioned to me that she loved nursing laying down because she could rest. So I laid him next to me on the couch and nursed him. He fell right asleep and stayed asleep next to me while I watched TV for 3 hours. It was great!

“I look like I’m sound asleep, but put me down and I will SCREAM!”

The next Monday Michael had to go back to work, meaning it was Jack and I alone for the first time. I was still tired and sore, so of course Jack decided he only wanted to sleep in my arms. I thought maybe I could just lay down with him in the twin bed in the nursery for a bit? So we tried and both went asleep easily. Two hours later we woke up very happy.

Right before he woke up from our first long nap together, so cute.

I talked to my mom about it and said explained again that it really was the only way she got any sleep in the beginning. But I was so worried about SIDS or him suffocating. She said that yes, tragic accidents do happen but she did it with me—and I am still alive. The next day I decided to try again with his afternoon nap, but this time in our queen-sized bed.The next thing I knew Michael was walking in the door and we had been asleep for 4 hours! Jack had even latch himself on my breast in his sleep. I remember pulling him in closer instinctively, then going back to sleep.

So I thought about it some more and realized maybe I had demonized co-sleeping for no reason. The concerns I had before mostly vanished. Once I got over the initial worry,  I actually slept great. And I didn’t need to get up every hour because Jack was right there. He would either fuss and I pulled him to my breast, or he would just latch himself on. Then he went right back to sleep. And he could stay latched as long as he needed and I could go back to sleep. And I naturally adjusted to having him in the bed and didn’t mind sleeping on my side.

I talked to Michael about it and he said he was willing to try whatever we needed to get some more sleep. But he was concerned about somethings. So we did more research and we came to an agreement. We would not co-sleep the first part of the night because we did want Jack to learn how to sleep on his own. And we agreed we would not co-sleep every night. And we would follow the rules every time he did sleep with us.

We didn’t  try sleeping together as a family until a week later. Jack got his 2 months shots and just conked out after. Michael and I were tired too, so we decided to try a family nap. We took all the heavy blankets off the bed. Michael and I only had a light sheet tucked-in around our waists. I laid down with Jack, then Michael got in. Soon we were all fast asleep. Three hour later we all woke up very happy.

They were so cute, I just had to take a picture.

Co-sleeping on occasion is a great choice for our family. Now we only put Jack in bed with us if he’s fussy and it’s still too early to get up for the day, like around 5 or 6 AM. And he and I take naps together a few times a week too. Not only is it so much easier, but it’s so beautiful. When I open my eyes to see my boys laying in the same position with the same happy looks on their faces, my heart melts. And Michael loves coming home to see us snuggled up together. Looking back at my own childhood, I think about those Sunday morning where my brother and I jumped into bed with my parents for snuggles and I can’t believe I ever denied co-sleeping.

All that being said, before you dive into co-sleeping, please do some research and make sure it is right for your family. Sharing your bed with your baby isn’t for everyone, so please discuss it thoroughly with your partner and take all factors into consideration first. The information I got from my local La Leche League was the most helpful. Please scour the internet, there is tons of info.

Resources on co-sleeping:
Sleep-Sharing: The Family Bed, Baby Center
Pros & Cons of Co-Sleeping, What To Expect
Sharing Sleep With Babies: The Benefits of Nighttime Slumbers, La Leche League
SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths, American Academy of Pediatrics
Co-Sleeping and Bed-Sharing, Kellymom
Safe Co-Sleeping Habits, Ask Dr. Sears

The Nursery: Decorative Sign

I love all the trend of the quote signs. Just basic letters with a quote or saying that reflects something important to you or a central theme. I knew I wanted one for Jack’s nursery, but didn’t want to spread $200 for some of the ones I found on Etsy, so I decided to make my own!

When I was little, my mom always sang “You Are My Sunshine” to me. It still think of it when I think of her. I have dreamed of the day I get to sing to to my own children. I thought it was very fitting quote for my son’s room.

So it seemed pretty simple. Buy some boards, put them together, paint and hang. Or so I thought….

I showed Michael some examples of the sign, and he pointed out that the sign we have above the fireplace is the same basic idea. So he looked at it’s construction. Three boards across with two boards to secure the others in place.

source

So Michael bought 3 pieces of finished hobby board from Home Depot and cut them to the appropriate lengths, resulting in 3 long and 2 shorter pieces. Our sign is about 2 feet by 1.5 feet, because the wall we wanted to place it on the wall is not that big. If you have a larger room, you may want to make your dimensions bigger.

source

Then Michael glued the the 3 longer pieces on the edges together with basic Elmers Wood Glue widthwise. Then he glued the smaller boards across on the bottom lengthwise. Similar to the image above.

Then I painted the front of the orange using the same paint we used for the walls (see baseball seam post). I only did one coat so the grain would still show, giving it a more vintage feel.

Then came the text…the stupid, stupid text. I have horrible handwriting so I knew I could never free-hand it. Michael has nice handwriting, but couldn’t make the fancy font I wanted. So I first came up the with idea of printing out the text I wanted and tracing it.

Then I realized that I didn’t know how to trace the letters without leaving big pencil marks or having tape pull the paint off. After some thought and consultation from others, I decided to print the text out again, but this time use the paper the letters were cut from as a stencil.

I did the first coat with Crayola Washable Kids Paints (the same I used for the wall letters), but it was not thick enough. So I used the same white we used for the nursery walls. The stencil did the basic job, but left the edges a little messy and uneven. So I went back over with both the orange and white paint to clean it up. Then I needed to paint the sun. For the circle, I just traced 8 inch pot. I free-handed the waves. The color is a mix of the white and orange painted I already used on the sign. About 70% orange to 30% white.

I let it dry for a day before I sealed with Mod Podge Acrylic Sealer Spray. I did about two medium coats. Just a word of warning, this stuff is potent. Please do this outside in a well ventilated area. And let it dry and defuse for several days before you bring inside.

Michael hung it up with a simple sawtooth hook on the sign and picture frame hook in the wall. We placed it between the two baseball seams, but not over the crib in case of earthquakes.

The Nursery: The Crib

I had no idea cribs were so complicated. Do you want changer combo or a standard crib? A convertible one? What color? How big of slots? Does it have stationary or drop sides? What is the maximum mattress height? Wood, metal, or plastic? Do you want to skip a crib, and do a bassinet or pack n’ play instead?

After some research (links provided below), I figured out what I wanted. We have a bassinet that my in-laws used for all of their kids that is still in great condition. We want to use that while he is really little so he can be right next to our bed. But we still wanted a crib in the nursery for when he got older. We wanted it to be wood, to match the baseball theme. Also, we wanted it to be lighter in color like a baseball bat—but not too boyish so if we had a girl in a few years it wouldn’t match girly stuff. I wanted it to have stationary sides so he can’t hurt himself he if climbs out. Because the room is small, I liked the crib/change combos to save space.

Once we figured all that out, we were in for major sticker shock. Cribs are so freaking expensive! We fell in love with one from Pottery Barn Kids, but it was $849! So I began looking for good deals. I quickly came across ones for around $100, but they were unstable and usually all plastic. I wanted something inexpensive, but still good quality. Then Babies R Us started discounting the 2013 model cribs at the end of the year and I found what I was looking for!

source

The Delta Houston Crib and Changer in Cinnamon. We had looked at a similar model in darker finish at the store a few weeks earlier and liked it. We didn’t get it because the price was too high though. This one seemed perfect—crib/changer combo, in a light color, stationary sides, and can convert into a toddle bed/bed frame later. And it was only $299!

He opened the beer seconds before
I asked him to assemble the crib.

My husband assembled it one night after work, with some help from his sister and brother-in-law. It wasn’t that complicated, but the instructions were kind of vague and hard to follow at first.” Insert HH into C. Then insert C into D”….yeah because that totally makes sense…

All ready for baby now!

Obviously I can’t fully review it yet since Jack isn’t born yet. But it appears to be very sturdy (Michael gave it some good shakes and it hardly budged). My only minor complaint so far it already has a scratch on it. It happened during assembly, Michael leaned it against the bed and it slid down slowly until it hit the floor. Nothing major, but kind of annoying to happen so quickly. I like the two storage drawers and three side storage shelves a lot. The larger top shelf fits a good amount of diapers and wipes.

I would also like to comment on the crib bumpers. I know no bumpers at all are recommended, but I babysat for a little boy who got his leg stuck and badly bruise when he was only a few months old. It was awful. I know odds are that most kids will never get their body parts stuck in the crib, but I don’t want to risk it. The ones on his crib are mesh and very light weight. And I know you can breathe through them because while I was fixing them one day  my cat wrapped herself up in it tight and totally covered her head. I panicked thinking she was going to suffocate, but as I picked her up I could see her nose smashed against the mesh breathing comfortably. I will remove the bumpers when he gets bigger and will be able to take them off himself though.

Links on how to select a crib:
How to Buy a Crib, Baby Center
How to Pick a Crib For Baby, My Mommy Manual
Baby Crib Buying Guide, About.com

The Nursery: Wall Letters

Once Michael and I finally settled on the name Jack for a boy, I took to Pinterest again to get inspiration one cute ways to do a decorative letters or a name sign for his room. One of the first things that came up when I simply typed in “Nursery wall letters” was this:

Here is the Etsy Shop incase
you want to order the original. 
It was perfect, like someone pinned this just for me to find! It’s his name and a sports theme, just like we wanted. I just needed to change the color scheme and leave out the basket ball (we are both short, no delusions our son will be Center for the Warriors). 
We had some trouble finding decent letters, which surprised me because this is such a popular trend. There we either cheap looking, already painted, a weird font, or really expensive. I finally found a these basic capital block letter on Amazon
I used Crayola Washable Kids’ Paint. The main reason I went with this is because it’s inexpensive. Also, I tend to make messes…I didn’t think my husband would appreciate me getting permanent paint on the kitchen table. 

To keep with both the nursery theme and the design of the pin, I decided to paint the J black, the A a football, the C a baseball, and the K orange.

I did the base colors first, then added the stitches for the baseball and football. The paint adhered to the wood well,  but every color needed a few coats to make it even. It probably took longer to get even than permanent paint would have, but it was not that big of a deal.

After the black dried, I noticed that it looked more brown. I ran out of black to do another coat, so I had to mix together other colors to make more black. Felt like I was in preschool again! It was fun and it came out nice in the end.

Once the letters dried, I took them to the nursery to see how they would look against the orange wall. Then I realized that the orange K didn’t stand out enough. I didn’t want paint it another color and lose the theme. So I painted the boarder in the reddish brown paint to give it some pop.

Michael attached the letters to the wall with 3M Double Coated Foam Tape. We considered gluing or nailing them to wall, but we didn’t want to damage the walls.

You might be wondering why we didn’t put the letters above the crib. We thought it would look too busy with the baseball stitches. And worried they might fall off in an earthquake (the joys of living next several major faults).  

The Nursery: Painting Baseball Seams

When we first moved into our house, we discussed what wanted to do with each room. When we got to the bedrooms, we knew that the smaller of the two would be a nursery one day, so we left it alone for until that day. Well, that day came sooner rather than later!

The room used to be completely—and I mean baseboards to ceiling —a sad faded purple. It was in obvious need a of serious paint job no matter what the gender. I wanted to do a Gamma Phi Beta (my sorority) theme for a daughter, and we both knew it would San Francisco Giants baseball theme for a son.

The obvious answer was paint the black and orange. But the more I thought about it, I realized a black nursery might not be the most smooth thing for a baby. And the BRIGHT Giant’s orange would be too stimulating. Then I remembered the home jerseys: off-white cream and a lighter orange. That seemed more like nursery colors!

source

After some inspiration on Pintrest, I came up with a two-toned wall idea. Then I saw another Pin with baseball seams on a white wall. Michael loved both ideas too.

There are a lot of organic, non-toxic paints specifically for nurseries, but they are really expensive. If you have the money, I really suggest getting them. We unfortunately do not, so we had to shop for paint on sale. If this is the case for you too, I suggest painting early so the room has months to air out all the fumes.

By the way, a friend asked me if paint was vegan….at first I thought she was kidding. I explained paint is made from chemicals mostly, so unless you are using squid-ink-based paint, then you are good.

Ideally, pregnant women should not paint due to the fumes. And, not to mention it’s exhausting and it’s already exhausting enough just being pregnant. My wonderful husband did majority of the painting. I did help a little bit, but made sure the windows were open and the fan was on first.

Now for the actual painting process….

He used a roller with an extension for majority of the walls and a medium-sized brush  (came in a set) for the corners.

We didn’t want the purple to show through, so we primed everything first. He used Valspar Interior Latex Primer High-Hiding from Lowes. We really like this primer and have used it in several rooms now. Not only did it cover the purple, it covered the dark wood panels in the living room perfectly.

For the colors, we selected Duration Home Latex Paint in Navel from Sherwin Williams and Behr Premium Plus Ultra Latex in Moon Rise from Home Depot. Both are semi-gloss finish.

The wall facing as you enter is orange, the rest of the walls and ceiling are off-white. And the trim, inside the closet and inside the door frame are orange for contrast.

He primed one Saturday night, then did most of the painting the next day. He went back a month later and did the touch-ups.

Then three weeks ago, my nesting instincts really kicked in so I asked him to please do the seams so the room is finished.

We started by having me point out how big/far-out I wanted the seams to go on the wall. Then he measured out that distance and cut a piece of string to that length.

He attached the string to a pencil. I held the string in the corner while he pulled it tight. He then drew a quarter circle from the based board to the edge of the wall. I suggest doing this with a colored pencil close to color of  the paint to avoid a black pencil mark from showing through.

Then, using a small angled brush,  Michael drew the first stitch freehand, and didn’t like it (though I thought it was fine). So he made a stencil so they would be more uniform and the process would go faster.

He ended up refining his stencil a few times, cutting it smaller so it did not smudge the previous stitch and create better spacing.

Then he repeated the process in the other corner. Once the stitches dried a little bit, he drew the seam line through the center of the stitches. He used just the very tip of the same angled brush.

Then the next day we touched up the edges and lines with some white paint.

I am very happy with the results! It’s not totally prefect, but if you really look at a baseball, not every stitch is exact. I would rather have a pretty good looking nursery done with love than a picture-perfect one done by some stranger or a machine.

I will do more updates about our nursery soon, including a review of the crib, the decorations, a custom sign, and wall letters.