There's a reason parents will give a knowing smile when people without kids, or parents-to-be, say they'll "never" do something.
And maybe you won't. You'll have rules and routines and will stick to your convictions. And then one day you'll find yourself in a new place, on vacation, and routines will go out the window. It will be late and everyone is tired and crying. You'll be at the end of your rope and you'll think...well maybe...
I don't actually say "never" that often. I'm aware that parenting is fluid and things change and the best thing we can be is flexible. Sure I have preferences and goals, but I know that it might take us a while to get to where we want to be, and that there are certain times that exceptions might need to be made.
Which is how Tom and I, having never co-slept before with E, ended up with him in our bed for half the night.
We'd had a very long day, which included E's first trip on an airplane. He then arrived somewhere new and unfamiliar - with so many things to look at and study. On top of that all, his grandparents were there! You could see his little brain working so hard, but his body was so, so tired. He went to bed fine, but around midnight he woke up screaming. He didn't know where he was, everything smelled different, and he couldn't get back to sleep.
We tried to calm him down but it wasn't working. He was screaming so much, Tom thought he might be hungry, and set off to get him a bottle. While he was gone, I lied down on the bed with E on my chest. I was tired and it was dark, so it was easier than standing. As soon as I lied down, E stopped screaming, wiggled a bit, and closed his eyes. By the time Tom got back, E was asleep. I shrugged my shoulders at Tom, and told him I wasn't sure what to do. He lied down beside me and we debated our options.
I think I originally thought I'd let him calm for a bit, and then move him back to his crib. So I slid him off my chest and put him between us. He woke up, looked at me, and then over at Tom. He reached out and touched us, one at a time. He'd scoot over and touch Tom, look at him, and then look back toward me, scoot over, and touch me. He moved back and forth between us for a few minutes, making sure we were there, as Tom and I exchanged amused looks over his head. He then plopped down, and passed out.
I took my pillow away and threw the blankets off, and lied down to watch him. Everything I've been told about safe sleep was running through my head at the same time all my mom instincts were telling me that this is what he needed. To get some sleep and feel safe between us.
And so that's how we stayed for the rest of the night. I didn't get much sleep that night, but I got plenty of cuddles which might have been even better. E woke up refreshed and happy, and the next night he went back to sleeping on his own, through the night.
Looking back, I think I've decided on one "I'll never" I hope I can keep going forward - I'll never put what others think I should be doing over what I know my child needs.