A mom desperate for a good night’s sleep built her toddler their own bed in her parents’ bedroom next to theirs.
Neuza Carvahlo, 26, and her partner, Montel Patterson, 26, slept in separate bedrooms for over a year while Neuza was co-sleeping with their daughter, Zariah.
Despite warnings about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Neuza thought co-sleeping would be easier for night feeds and keeping Zariah happy during the night.
But when it started to impact her wellbeing, Neuza – with the help of Montel – decided to build Zariah a bed next to theirs to “save her mental health.”
The couple decided to allow their toddler to stay in their bedroom, rather than making her sleep in her own and say she now often sleeps through the night.
The tot has a firm routine, and her new bed allows Neuza and Montel, an American football player, to have time to themselves.
Neuza, a patient co-ordinator, from Bromley, Greater London, said: “Zariah always needed me there to be able to go to sleep – it was time for her to have her own independence.
“She’s still in the room with us, but now she has her own space with the bed we built for her. It’s really helping me with my mental health – and I feel like I’ve had such a release!
“My child and partner needed me to the point where I lost myself.
“At some point, I needed to give myself back to myself, and my daughter needed her independence.”
Zariah was born on Oct. 29, 2020. She suffered from colic in her first three months and Neuza says she was “a baby who cried non-stop.”
Neuza felt it would be easier on them both to begin co-sleeping in her double bed, while Montel slept in the second bedroom.
She says she was advised not to do this by midwives and health visitors, as an estimated half of babies who die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome co-sleep with their parents, according to the Lullaby Trust.
“Obviously, I did get criticism from midwives and the person who visits you afterwards for the first eight months,” she said.
“They’re always against it because there’s a huge risk of SIDS that comes with co-sleeping.
“For me, though, my mom co-slept with me, and Montel’s mom co-slept with him. It was always just easier for the nighttime feeds.
“It worked for me – but I can see why other people wouldn’t do it.
‘But I felt comfortable doing it.
‘We never had any problems, and because my partner was sleeping in another bed, we had plenty of space.”
But co-sleeping did present the couple with other issues – Zariah quickly became “attached to the boob” – and expected to breastfeed in her sleep.
She woke up multiple times every night for a feed, which left Neuza feeling exhausted and drained.
Neuza said: “When Zariah was breastfeeding, she became attached to the boob.
“She constantly woke up during the night and expected to breastfeed during sleep.
“She needed me so much, to the point where I was losing weight, losing energy. Co-sleeping and breastfeeding made me feel like an object.
“My relationship with my partner was struggling – we weren’t sleeping next to each other.
“When he came home from work it was Zariah and daddy time, then I’d be asleep.”
When Zariah turned one, Neuza decided to wean her off breastfeeding.
She said: “A lot of people have mixed experiences, but I knew I didn’t want to go cold turkey.
“We went week-by-week, phasing out morning feeds, then night feeds. After a month, she stopped asking for the boob.
“It was draining but I had to be strong and hold firm. After I stopped breastfeeding – I felt better.”
Now that Zariah no longer relies on breastfeeding to get her through the night, Neuza and Montel have been able to reconnect over date nights and quality time.
She added: “When you’re a woman, it’s easy to become just a partner, or just a mother.
“You have to feed, cook, clean.
‘But once Zariah was weaned off the boob, she could cope so much better with being babysat by her grandparents once in a while.
“I could go to the gym again – I hadn’t done that since before I gave birth.
“My partner and I can now actually go on dates – whether it’s the cinema, a restaurant or quality time just at home, with a movie and a takeaway.
“Even the conversations are better. We have a bit more freedom to make time for each other now.”
Now Zariah is a toddler, the pair have built her a bed in their room.
Neuza believes this allows her to maintain her independence while also feeling close to her parents.
She said: “I figured if she could sleep independently at her childminder’s, there was no reason she couldn’t do that here.
“We needed to give her some of that independence.
“She’s still with us now, but she has her own space.
“In order for her to sleep in the bed we set up for her, we decided to get her involved in things like putting the bedsheets on.
“She has her own little settling and winding down routine.
“We’ll choose which books she wants to read in bed as well as actually getting her into bed with the offer of telly or the tablet for 10 minutes.
“Then, she’ll have her winding down stage. We like to put on white noise while she lays down.
“She’ll have her teddy, then just toss and turn until she falls asleep.
“Montel can sleep in bed with me now. It’s the perfect setup.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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