Time to Memorize You

Dear Daughter,

Nine and a half months have passed since I first held you in my arms and touched each tiny feature of the little face I had wondered about for the nine months that you grew into existence.

Bedtime has become the time to memorize you as you change from day-to-day and stage-to-stage.

Chubby cheeked as you always have been. You lay against my belly and kick your feet to make yourself jump as you nurse. You hum busily and meet my eyes with yours in the dim light of bedtime. Your dark hair holds the shape of the ponytail you wore during the day, making it stick up comically. I smile at you and your chubby little hand reaches out to bat at my smile. I kiss your hand and you grin as you nurse. I gently rub your back to help you wind down and feel how your shoulders and your hips are squaring out into the form of a toddler as you leave infancy behind.

I could be annoyed that you are still awake. I could ask you when you’ll sleep on your own. I could leave you to cry it out. I could choose to relate to books like “Go the F*CK to sleep” which has its cult following. But why? I do not wish to rob myself of the joys that this time offers. I do not wish to rob you of the comfort and closeness that you desire at this stage of your life.

Instead my finger traces the curve of your ear as it disappears behind your chubby cheek. Instead I’m amused to find a smear of blackberry from your bedtime snack that evaded your bath. Instead my thumb traces one of your eyebrows and I discover that as soon as I do that your eyes close. So I trace your nose and then your cheeks. You smile. And this is how you drift off to sleep this night at nine and a half months old. Smiling, cherished, and at peace with how life is.

I cannot go back to that first moment of meeting you. I cannot go back to when you were a newborn for one extra day of holding you when you were too young to hold your head up for long. I cannot return to kiss you once more when you were three months old. I cannot go back in time to capture one last second when you were six months old. Each day is spent as it passes, and it cannot be spent again.

I wish to spend as many of these moments showing you the joy of peace and calm. The safety and warmth of sleep and love. I’m happy for these moments at the end of our day. 

There are those who would rob us of these peaceful gentle moments. Sleep trainers say that you are learning to “manipulate” me by crying to be in my arms when you are sleepy. They say you will never learn to sleep. They say that is “failure” as a parent to set limits. They don’t want me to understand what I understand already to be true- that I can easily and gently teach you to sleep all on your own in your own room in your own bed without tears when you’re ready. Just as your brothers learned.  That you learn independence through security and not through being pushed away and left to cry alone.

Soon you will learn to sleep through the night all on your own. Soon you will learn to fall asleep all on your own. Soon you will sleep as well as your brothers have learned to sleep. Soon I’ll be grateful for the sleep that I can get at night and which I’ve missed during these months while you have been small.

For now, though, I’ll be grateful for this time that I have had to memorize all these little things about you.

<3 Mama

8 thoughts on “Time to Memorize You

  1. I agree!!! I just nursed my 15 month old to sleep and can totally relate to all that you’ve written. It’s all very beautiful and true! (plus… Once they’re asleep, it’s a lovely quiet moment to sit and meditate or, as I did this evening, check your email on your dimmed phone and read great stuff like this post! LOL)

  2. LOVE this post! Putting my almost 5 month old to bed is my favorite thing to do. I love cuddling and nursing her to sleep in our family bed. Even when she is a little over-tired and cranky I love soothing her to sleep like how you described.

  3. Love this :) My 3rd little guy is 3 months old, so I know how fleeting this time is. I happen to be a sleep training mama, but I certainly approach it differently than with my first–the pressure to follow the method to a T is gone. Oh how I love to trace his face from the tip of his nose to his chubby little cheeks & breathe in his sweet little scent while he lies next to me nursing. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Last night I nursed my almost one year old (Thursday! I can’t believe it) to sleep in the rocking chair just as we always do then once she was sound asleep snuggled down onto the mattress next to her, just as we always do. Then my sound asleep baby girl was abruptly wide awake, giving me kisses in the dark :-) After a few minutes of trying to snuggle, nurse, and rock her back to I let her up to play for a little while, then she went happily back to sleep. I know these moments are fleeting, although I still struggle to feel confident that trusting her is the way to go and that I haven’t failed her by being patient.

  5. LOVE. Once again, thank you. And thank you for the FB group as well. I enjoy reading through the posts of even more like-minded parents while I rock my little one at night.

  6. Sarah, you have saved my sanity, these last many months. The first 6,7 months of my son’s life,DH and I tried everything to get him to sleep like the “experts” said. We rocked,shushed, sang,etc and felt like failures because he wouldn’t sleep,at least for naps, alone, he wouldn’t stay asleep for more than an hour after being put down at night, and he sure as hell would not go to sleep when being “put down drowsy,but not sleeping”. We paid about $100 to a sleep “expert” site(won’t name it) to get help on how to get DS to sleep like a “normal” baby. This site was one that fooled me into thinking it was more AP than others because there was no CIO involved (well,they didn’t include it if you weren’t interested in it,though,after paying the money, I saw that they still kind of hoped that you would finally give in to the CIO). I did get my money back from them because it was nothing that would ever work for us and my wonderfully strong-willed son. Anyway, DH and I were stressed beyond anything for 6 or 7 months.

    Finally, my son started to fall asleep while nursing again (he had stopped around 3 or 4 months for some reason). Around that time,I discovered your blog. It helped me to feel so much better about nursing my son to sleep,holding him as much as he needs, nursing him whenever he needs and just accepting the ways of my child instead of feeling like I was fighting against him. Even though I had read, and agreed with, all of the Attachment Parenting books I had read, and had thought that I was protected against falling prey to the “other” ideas of parenting,I still felt pressured to get him to STTN and other things like that,which was quite surprising to me. Once DH and I gave in to the way my son needed us to help him to sleep, life got so much easier. He’s “still” nursed to sleep at 17 months,and that’s just fine. I hold him all night long,for his entire 11 hours of sleep. I hold him for the naps he takes at home,and it’s fine. No, DH and I don’t get much time together,but we both know that this will change soon enough.
    I love holding my son close,breathing in his scent, and ,as you say, memorizing his face. You helped me to feel that this is OK,no matter what anyone else says. Thank you for that!

  7. Every once in a while, I like to read your archived posts at the age my son is now. You see, he is 9.5 months old and still nursing to sleep and nursing throughout much of the night. I haven’t given this way of sleeping with him a second thought for months now. It has worked peacefully and comfortably for us.

    But on Friday his doctor ordered blood tests – and he needs to fast for 8 hours beforehand. I felt sick as soon as he told me. My son hasn’t slept for longer than 2 or so hours without nursing yet. No STTN here.

    In reality, I know this isn’t the end of the world. I know it can be accomplished by one hard night of crying and frustration. I won’t leave him alone for it. I will be with him and hold him and comfort him as much as I can throughout that night. But I’ve never wished more for him just to sleep, for once, through the night, for only his sake, even if it means he doesn’t again sleep through the night for another year or two.

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