When we adopted our second child, we quickly realized that her adoption was not like our first. Our son came home at 9 months and after a short adjustment, fell right into a predictable and happy routine. Our daughter, who came home to us at 22 months was an entirely different story.
After traveling to Korea and taking her away from the only family she had ever known, we were left with a scared, grieving and distraught toddler. She would scream for hours and I would wear her on my back and just pace around the house hoping to bring her some solace during this terrible transition.
One strategy that had been recommended to us was co-sleeping. This allowed us to bond with her and vice versa. She loved co-sleeping and this brought her much needed comfort. My husband and I slowly adjusted to going to bed at 8 pm with a traumatized toddler between us. It was like sleeping between a cross of Maggie Simpson’s sucking sound and the congestion of a pug who happened to plant her right heel into your left kidney as you attempted to recharge your batteries during a much needed REM cycle.
We told ourselves this was only temporary, that this was needed for her transition and that it wouldn’t be a big deal to us and it wouldn’t last long.
We. Were. Wrong.
Every night we were heading to bed like the Ingalls family, going to sleep by 8 as a group. After our goodnights we just laid silently, with her between us, until we all just got so bored we passed out, too. There were no more watching movies or TV shows together, recapping our days, catching up on events of family and friends. Our routine became monotonous and completely dictated by our new little dumping.
We got used to not talking before bed. We got used to sleeping on complete opposite sides of the bed. We got used to making our kids the complete focus of our relationship. We got used to ending our days with the stress of restless sleeping. Before long, we just became two people robotically going through the motions of life because we were just so tired and disconnected. No arguments, no anger. Just completely unaware of just how distant we had become.
Once we moved, we realized that big changes had to be made. After almost two years, it was time to end co-sleeping for the sake of our marriage. I laid with her as she went to sleep and then went into our bed. The relief of being able to fall asleep in our own time, in our own way, was a much needed respite.
I am not against co-sleeping. For the sake of our daughter’s adjustment and bonding it was completely necessary. However, I wish I had a full understanding on the impact it can have on marriages. The image in my head of both of us, cuddling and bonding to our little toddler as she drifted off to dreamland, was an unrealistic illusion of the reality of our co-sleeping situation. Looking back, I wouldn’t change our decision, but I would have attempted to carve more time out for us to connect about our daily lives rather than have to fight back from the fact we had drifted apart.