(Not) Too Little, (It’s) Too Late

The painful, howling cries of my little cherub snapped me out of a deep and desperately needed sleep around 5am this morning.  He is teething again still, with big, white front teeth beginning to shine through his swollen pink gums; the one on the right is starting to peek shove it’s way through, seemingly in competition with his bottom two front teeth, who have been slowly creeping up for the last two weeks. That being said he has not been sleeping through the night lately, so his Daddy and I haven’t had that luxury either.

After shaking the last drops out of the infant Tylenol bottle into his mouth and changing his diaper he continued to wail, so I figured I’d try to nurse him back to sleep.  I was not hopeful, since nursing has not been going well again the last few weeks.  Ten minutes into the right side and he began to pass out, but when I tried to burp him he seemed to get a second wind.  We began to feed on the left side and I sighed, noting the time.

I hoped to get him back down by 5:30am so I could potentially salvage the last hour before our alarms went off, but something strange happened.

In the quiet darkness with just he and I (and the two cats, who occasionally wandered in or out of his bedroom expecting an early breakfast), he ate, and after a few minutes fell asleep.

I gently slid my right arm underneath his legs, which were crossed at his chubby knees.  He was laying on his right side facing me, his small but solid body gently curved to embrace my torso, and his left hand rested gently on my exposed breast.  His breathing, plagued with congestion for the last three weeks, had become a steady stream of deep snores.  My left arm buried itself under his head and propped it up.  I debated lifting his frame and placing it gently into his crib for about forty five minutes, but my eyelids weighed as much as his entire body, and I leaned back, hugging his body closer to mine.

There was such sweetness in that moment, between the rustling of soft fur on the cats and the nasally groans of my eight month old, that I decided to embrace the awkwardness that would undoubtedly leave me with a stiff neck and darker circles under my eyes than normal and leave everything as it was.  Somehow in that blurry, sleepy state I remembered all the advice from all the articles and mothers of older children; every parent who I’ve ever had a conversation with has started a sentence with, “It went by so fast…” before their eyes get far away and their voices trail off.

I closed my eyes and prepared to be able to sleep for about a half hour, until about fifteen minutes later the baby began to rustle.  He stretched and kicked out his legs from my grasp, stretching his arms wide and contorted in several ways trying to get comfortable.  Not wanting him to wake just yet, I lifted him up and gently bounced him back to a state of calmness; he stretched out wide in his crib before he rolled over onto his belly and began to snore again.

As I crawled into bed to enjoy the last ten minutes before our alarm clocks began to sing scream, I was overcome with sadness.  I had tried to hang on for dear life to his babyness, clutching to the same position he laid in on the first day we brought him home.  But he, with growing limbs practically bursting out of his body, had other plans.  Soon he will no longer fit on my lap, so I will try my best to enjoy everything that still makes him him in these beautiful moments while it lasts.


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