For the first time since we abandoned our cosleeper* there is no bed rail on my side of the bed.
In theory, it was to keep Gaz from rolling off the bed but she pretty much took over the middle of the bed from the start. When she was very small, I could tuck my arm around her to carve out a bit of bed real estate for her to enjoy, when she as bigger, she occupied with her own bulk easy enough. No one ever rolled over on her, and I never feared for anyone's sleep or safety.
I know not everyone is into cosleeping. I also know most kids go back and forth from their beds to parent beds, and even though lots of parents share sleep with their kids, the difference between calling it cosleeping and trying to pretend like it doesn't happen seems to be more political than anything else. By which I don't mean Democrat or Republican--there's cosleepers on both sides of the aisle (seriously!). I mean that some people are willing to admit to cosleeping publicly and some are not.** And some just don't period. It's all good. No two parents or kids are exactly alike, even in the same house.
But I have loved cosleeping. When I was still secretarying, I didn't feel so awful about being gone in the day because cosleeping made nighttime feel more like quality time with my baby. No, it wasn't always easy, but I always preferred the screaming baby next to me to the screaming baby all the way at the other end of the apartment (we have yet to live anywhere with bedrooms closer than "at the other end of the apartment"). It was convenient, and it ensured that I both got sleep and didn't drop a baby while trying to feed her in a rocking chair in the middle of the night when I had to be up at 6am.
My favorite cosleeping story: sometime while we lived in Logan Square, around when Gaz was between 6mo and 1 year, I had taken her to bed and promptly fallen asleep myself. That night Gaz did not fall asleep with me right away, I found out, because when I woke up an hour or so later, I found her asleep on Mark's pillow and one of her stuffed toys under my arm. She had tucked me in and rolled over after she'd finished nursing. That night made up for the times I would wake up to find her just sitting there, staring at me; that was always creepy, no matter how adorable the baby.
Back to the rail. It's real purpose was to keep *me* from falling out of bed. Gaz is an athletic sleeper, always surprising us with how she can flop into new and confusing positions without waking herself up. Most nights, the athletics involved feet and kneed pushing into me (especially my lower back or bladder), which meant I needed to roll away, and usually while I was asleep. If not for the faithful bed rail, I would have spent most of the last seven years with bruises from my face hitting my bedside table and the rest of me hitting floors and walls. It's the only way that sleeping with a tall child who'd sprawl over us like a puppy was possible for me.
So it's going to be weird tonight getting into bed, and weird tomorrow getting out of it. It's been a part of my landscape for so long that it will probably take me a little while to get used to it being gone. What will I do without all the bruises on my thighs from inelegant returns to bed after a middle-of-the-night bathroom trip? But we just don't need it--when Gaz has a bad dream, I usually take her back to her room and curl up with her (and my relocated alarm clock) there. One night, after reading an especially awful case (studying child law regularly requires me to read awfulness), I camped out in her room because that was the best way to settle my brain. But we're pretty much settled.
I do miss the Gaz-puppy pile sometimes, but she's growing and wanting her own space more. I will certainly not stand in the way of that, especially when it means that my sleep is less likely to be interrupted. I have always liked me some sleep.
* The cosleeper crib attachment thing kept her just below mattress level on the other side of a raised divider, and it hurt too much to twist around that from a lying position to retrieve Gaz for feedings & diaper changes. It was much, much easier on my achey Cesarian incision to keep her in the "baby in-box" between us at night, which involved a minimum of midsection twisting to access her.
** One day the neighbor kids were over with their mom and mom commented on Gaz's bed being well made, so I said "well she doesn't sleep there, so of course it's clean!" The relief on her face that her family was not the only bunch of weirdo sleep sharers on the block was amazing. I've since discovered that others of Gaz's friends have shared sleep with their parents more than most folks commonly share. I'm not going to out anyone, but I do think it's important to say these things out loud so that other parents know that they aren't "doing it wrong." If it works, it works. Who cares if some say it's abnormal? I say it worked for us. No need for further discussion.