When I first had Tiger, people would ask me if he was a “good baby” or not. Now, let me just say I don’t believe there is a such thing as a bad baby. All babies are good. What they really meant was does your baby sleep through the night and keep quiet? No he didn’t- and neither have my other babies.
At first getting up in the middle of the night was hard. I felt tired. I just wanted to sleep. I wished my baby would sleep. I dreamed of the day when my baby would sleep through the night. Then when I had Butterfly I similarly dreamed of a full night of sleep. Once I had Pumpkin Pie, I again dreamed of a full night’s sleep.
When she was about 8 months old things changed. I travelled to my mom’s house and arrived late one night. That night, I was so tired from flying but Pumpkin Pie was wide awake. She would not go to sleep! All I wanted to do was take a shower and go to sleep. After all, I had been flying on an airplane, drove over an hour, and arrived at about 12:30 am. That night, as I held my daughter to try and coax her to sleep, I gazed out across the horizon.
My mom lives on forty acres in the middle of nowhere in the foothills. Gazing out across the landscape for miles and miles was a beautiful scene of silhouetted oak trees, rock outcrops, hills, and some pine trees. Native American women used to prepare food for their families in a nearby outcrop. That night as I gazed out across the hills, I realized that hundreds of mothers before me had stood on those hills holding their babies gazing out across the hills. These mothers had all rocked and cuddled their babies in the middle of the night, listening to the owls and crickets. They too had seen the landscape that I was watching as I held that sweet baby.
It was in that quiet moment that I realized that I was not up all night alone with my baby. I was surrounded by love. I was surrounded by the women who have come before me holding their babies. I was in good company. I realized it really didn’t matter anymore if I was up in the middle of the night with that baby. I could choose to enjoy it instead. I could choose to enjoy the peaceful moment that a baby in the middle of the night allowed me. The peaceful stillness that rules the night gave me a precious gift that night. I wasn’t lonely. I had the sweet opportunity to connect to my baby and all the mothers who also get up with babies.
Now when I get up in the middle of the night, yes sometimes I am really tired, but I always reflect on that night near the Native American kitchen. I gaze down at my baby and hold him tight. I smell his sweet baby smell that will all too soon go away, and I try to burn the memory of his sweet round cheeks into my memory to draw on when he is older and has passed out of the infant stage. I then go to the window and stand to look out across the suburban skyline that is my view. I remember the women and the babies before me and I listen to the sound of the quiet night and the breathing of my baby as he drifts off to sleep. I may even take an extra minute or two to enjoy holding my sweet baby before I put him back in his cradle and crawl back into bed.
Yes, once upon a time I yearned for the full night sleep. Now I enjoy the moments. They will be gone before I know it and my Little One, like his brother and sisters, will no longer wake at night. He will be walking and talking soon and I will once again have a full night sleep.