A Co-Sleeping Crime?

I ran into news of Vanessa Clark earlier today, the woman recently convicted of felony child endangerment because she was co-sleeping with her two month old son. He died, allegedly from SIDS. This is also not the first time this happened to her; she lost her first son a year before that in a similar manner.

Now, I have to admit, I co-sleep. I tried the bassinet, the crib. The child hates, I mean HATES, being closed in. Ever has, since we brought him home. (Not that a bassinet or a crib is necessarily closed in, but he’s always slept better in a regular bed.)  And since I was nursing, and tired, and sick of getting up out of bed every three hours, I let him in the bed.

I’ve long since stopped nursing. My son is almost 17 months old now. But. He’s still there.

I understand the risks of co-sleeping. I entered into the whole co-sleeping thing thinking it would be temporary.

I also understand the benefits of co-sleeping. I’m for it and feel that it’s a parent’s choice. Do what you will, or won’t.

However. If I lost a baby the year before in almost exactly the same manner, you better bet your butt I’d never co-sleep again. Just not worth it.

I’m not a big fan of judging what people should do in random circumstances I’ve never found myself in, but something makes me uncomfortable with this particular story. Especially considering that Clark was supposedly under the influence of Xanax and Vicodin. Pills are likely to make a new (sleep deprived) mother fall into a deeper sleep. This might result in not being as hyper conscious as to where exactly baby is in bed. Probably not a good combo then, co-sleeping and pill cocktails on (likely) very little sleep. Duh.

My feeling is, co-sleeping is not the evil that everyone cooks it up to be. Yes, there is a risk of suffocation. But there is in a crib too, or a pack-n-play or what ever else there is for babes to sleep in. Parents should do what’s right for their families. Not every one is the same. And (this point is probably more valid) people from all walks of life, all cultures, all areas of the world co sleep or sleep share. It’s natural.

So I don’t think co-sleeping is a crime. But I do think that people should start exercising more common sense when it comes to making seemingly basic decisions for themselves and their families. Our culture seems so hellbent on simply out-lawing every, single, solitary thing that can possibly lead to harm (read: lawsuit).

It’s like no one has to take responsibility anymore.

Wake up. Pay attention. Be present. That’s all you have to do.


11 thoughts on “A Co-Sleeping Crime?

  1. oooh, I wish I were a mom so I could weigh in with my own story. I’ve heard of this debate (co-sleep vs crib) and, as I’m not a mom, who am I to say what is best. But as you said, even though YOU are a mom it depends on the situation of the mom and baby. I can certainly see the fear people may have (oh no, rolling over onto my baby), but I think you are spot on to say that it is important to “pay attention” and “be present”. The fact that Clark A) lost a child in a similar fashion only a year prior and B) was on different kinds of medication make me think she may not be mentally sound.


  2. I definitely agree, people should exercise common sense not just in parenting methods but in everything. It’s not so much that this happened that bothers me about this but it’s also that this has happened before. Sometimes I wonder if people like this do it on purpose.

  3. It is always interesting to hear news stories like this. I would like to have babies (soon) so I do think at times how I would want to raise them. I agree with your point that it is easier to have baby sleeping next to me so I don’t have to get up. Then I wonder if I would get a restful sleep because I would be on edge, thinking where the baby is and hoping that I don’t roll on it. Is this how it is? I do like learning about these things so that I am informed, even though I don’t have kids yet, I find it very interesting all the different parenting styles out there. You are right though, everyone is different so you have to choose the way that works for you.

    • michaela says:

      At first I was worried about having him in the bed thinking I’d roll over him, but somehow, I always knew exactly where he was. In no time it felt natural and then I got pretty good sleep for a new mom. I think that is the biggest reason I’m an advocate. You can get more sleep. 🙂

  4. I believe in co-sleeping. It actually teaches the baby how to breath! I know, I’ve heard stories of the dangers of it, but how can you be away from you baby?! My Mom told me that she allowed me to co-sleep, but that it made her nervous because for some reason I would always end up at the foot of the bed, ha! But I never fell off :). I am on your team, co-sleep.

    • michaela says:

      You know, I heard that about the breathing thing!
      And that’s funny (and a good thing) you never fell off the bed! 🙂

  5. Vanessa Clark is completely at fault. Why would she do that knowing what happened the first time. If I were her I would take the precautions necessary so something like that would never happen again. She is so irresponsible, I think she deserves to be charged with felony charges.

  6. I agree with your post; I don’t have kids but I probably will co-sleep at least for a little while. There’s no guarantee that if the woman’s babies had slept in their cribs, that they wouldn’t have died from SIDS since there’s no known cause. It’s true that to have both your babies die from SIDS is rare and a coincidence, but I’m sure it happens. Overall, the whole thing is just really sad and unfortunate.

  7. Definitely a tragic situation, which is complicated because blaming parents in these situations seems like salt in a very terrible wound. As a non-parent with scarce knowledge on
    what’ s advised by doctors on the co-sleeping topic– I’d say that, in this particular situation– if a previous child had died of SIDS and co-sleeping was thought to be a factor, then not doing it with the next child seems like a logical step that should have been taken.

  8. This is a really sad story. I don’t understand how someone could lose a child and then continue doing the same thing that resulted in the first child’s death. Obviously it was apparent after the first time that she could not keep herself from deep sleep and stay aware of where her child was. And to top it off she was taking pills..She should have known better. That being said, I really don’t care if people co-sleep vs. crib sleep, breast feed vs. bottle, cloth diaper vs. disposable. It’s your kid, you raise them how you want. Personally I chose not to co-sleep due to the simple fact that I didn’t want my daughter to become used to it and have a hard time sleeping in her crib later. I did sleep in bed with her in the mornings after my fiance left for work though, but I always made sure she was far enough away from me and that there were no pillows or blankets near her (other than the one she was swaddled in) 🙂

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