When I was 35 weeks pregnant I made my husband a man cave. It was all my idea. I moved our television from the living area into his bedroom. That's two things women are told not to do: put TV's in bedrooms and move heavy objects while heavily pregnant.
I also did another wrong thing. I told my husband that he didn't need to get up in the night once the baby was born. My daughter is now two years old and I have only missed a few hours of sleep since her birth. I give all credit to moving that TV.
Earlier in my pregnancy, I sat in the lunch room at work and shared my clever plans with a pregnant colleague. She looked at me in disgust: "that's not happening in my house. It's his child too. He can get out of bed and bring me the baby."
Apparently, I wasn't clever but stuck in the 1950s, feather duster in one hand and newborn in the other. Many people raised eyebrows at my man cave idea, including my husband. He didn't want to be at one end of the house in a quiet and comfortable bedroom, while I cared for a crying baby at the other end.
Let me explain why I did this. If our roles were reversed and I was working full time I would go completely nutty if I didn't sleep well each night. Driving when you're exhausted is dangerous, and there is a certain degree of cheerfulness required as an employee. I wanted my husband to have what I would want if I was in his position.
Stay-at-home mums need sleep too of course. This is why I moved the TV. I shared a different bedroom with our baby which was next to the living area. A TV would have kept me awake, especially when I tucked myself into bed at 7pm (with or without bub). I wanted to create my own sanctuary too - free from distractions, addictive crime dramas, noise and flashing lights.
When my husband came home from work each afternoon he had the enthusiastic glow of someone who's had a good eight hours the night before. And as a mum, he was exactly what I needed. He was the most amazing support for me from the moment he came in the door until very late at night. He would regularly pace up and down the hall with her while I ate my dinner.
Our daughter was a good sleeper and I'm sure the calm, rhythmic home environment helped. She may not have "slept through the night" for many, many months but I was okay with that. If she awoke at night I quickly breastfed her and she drifted off again within seconds.
When I was a teenager I worked night shifts at a radio station. I learned to love the dark, bold stillness of nighttime and the sunlight creeping up at dawn. I also learned to drink coffee and invest in blackout curtains.
I was good at sleeping with our baby during the day. I never felt guilty about crashing out with her at 9am and told family and friends not to ring the doorbell.
After about 12 months, the TV found its way back to the living area and the man cave returned to a normal bedroom. I'm glad I had the courage to get everyone in my family sleep, even if my method was slightly out of the norm.
Not all mums can breastfeed or sleep during the day. And some newborns scream - I mean really scream - for hours at a time, day and night. My family's sleeping arrangements may not work for everyone, but I encourage new mums to find a way that works for them. Sleep is so important for everyone in the family. Don't worry about what's conventional, do what works for you.