Sleeping Together01.27.11

One of the experiences I’ve had because of living in Japan is sleeping together with my kids. I may not have tried it if I’d spent my life in the U.S. since sleeping in my own bed was all I knew. Apparently co-sleeping is gaining some popularity  (at least one of my Seattle friends did it for a while),  but aside from this rarely heard word, I’m not even aware of a phrase to distinguish it from the euphemism for sex.

Here in Japan where space is limited and the mother-infant bond is assumed to take primacy over all else for the first three years of life, it is virtually a given. When our first child arrived, we had some hesitations- particularly about safety- but the desire to be close to our new little one and the encouragement of those around us invited us to try. Through sleeping together I noticed many things.

Of course one notices breathing and sleep patterns, body temperature, restfulness and wakefulness without even trying to. In addition, there is a mysterious connection signalling that the baby has just fallen asleep or just woken up although there’s no visible sign. It’s almost like being joined by some intangible communication system that doesn’t involve the senses. And then there is the smile! Perhaps it is just as bright when it comes from a crib to a parent walking through the door to get the baby up, but the amazed smile of a baby waking to the steady gaze of an adoring parent happened to me first in Japan, on a futon while sleeping together. “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me!” (Psalm 139:18)

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Posted by Andrea Johnson under culture.

3 Responses to “Sleeping Together”

  1. My radiologist was talking about co-sleeping with their new babies. I thought, “Ah, the new buzz word for having kids in bed with you.” When our children were babies, the hot book out was the Family Bed. I have to admit, I was just tired and lazy and I found it a lot easier to have them in bed with us when they awoke hungry looking for a mid-night snack.
    Andy, I agree, there is nothing more beautiful than watching their little faces twitch, smile, grimace etc. as they have their little dreams. Pure joy.
    I fear so much of American culture is still rooted in that crazy, anal Victorian Period of our history. We need to loosen up a bit and find great joy in the simplest of life’s gifts – the sound of a baby’s light, rhythmic breathing.

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    Posted by Julie on 12/13/09 January 27th, 2011 at 4:53 PMReply

    • Yeah, isn’t it weird to have a word no one recognizes to describe something that is as natural and normal as eating or playing?! I found the word as I was looking for a balanced and reasonable hyperlink. Since three of our kids came “special delivery” (through adoption) the breast option wasn’t really there, but I really feel it helped us all with bonding.

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      Posted by Andrea Johnson on 12/13/09 January 28th, 2011 at 12:19 AMReply

  2. I couldn’t agree more. So many cultures have the family all sleeping in the same room and never think twice about it. Perhaps with the happiness/wellness movement, we’ll realize that the 5 things that bring us joy has nothing to do with more stuff, bigger houses, etc. but being present, connecting with others, learning something new, movement, and giving. Those 5 things right there would bring world peace instantly.
    Forever the idealist!

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    Posted by Julie on 12/13/09 January 28th, 2011 at 12:40 AMReply

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