My attention is not fully on our Evelynn Joan during the day. I admit it. I have a nearly-five-year-old girl and a prone-to-disaster-nearly-three-year-old boy. And they are in a high need time of their lives – they need help with wiping bums, cutting food, referee-ing disputes, getting dressed and pretty much everything in between, all day long. So Evelynn is simply along for the ride of the day – either in the Ergo while we run around or waiting patiently on the floor during her “bare bum time” or in her little baby swing, snoring away in the chaos.

I find myself rather wistful about her. She has to share so much of her babyhood with her brother and sister. Absolutely she has the richness of them, their love and attention to compensate for my divided focus, the busy-ness that means I only sit down when it’s time to nurse and that is okay. But I sort of miss those days of one-baby, those days of easy stroller walks just us two or quiet times to hold her close while she sleeps, just counting eyelashes in the afternoon sun, giving her all of me. Instead, she is toted here and there, strapped in and out of the carseat, grinning up at us from the floor and laughing hysterically at the ceiling fan, contented and happy, yes, but the truth is that she waits all day for me and I wait all day for her.

Because during the night, she’s all mine and I am all hers.

I can see how some could resent the nighttime parenting but I don’t – not anymore. Now that I know how quickly they go from that flour sack of contented baby sleep to long, lanky girl sleep, I can’t resent the night of loving her, holding her close, easing her to sleep.

In the evenings, when the rocking chair is creaking and she is breathing slow, I get to count the eyelashes and nurse her slow. And then in the night, when I wake up, her face is there, right before me, sound asleep. We sleep like magnets, us two, like some powerful force keeps us skin-to-skin through the night hours.

Brian swears its the favourite sight of his life, me sprawled sleeping with a babe pressed close to my breast, protective and curled around her abandoned sleep-peace.

Never mind the controversies about co-sleeping or bed-sharing or whatever you want to call it. Last night, at 3:30, we were laying together in bed, Brian snoring beside us and, in her sleep, her mouth found me and I was nourishing her body and soul in that half-space between dreams and awake. Gift. Gift. Gift. See this, this is a gift of grace from heaven.

It was a tidal wave of goodness in that half-darkness just before dawn rising in the summer morning, tree shadows dancing against the walls and her small tummy pressed against my ribs, hand cradling me close and I slid easily between sleep and awake with her blessed baby-self breathing there.

Then the morning broke and Anne was standing at the bed, blinking and tousled while Joe hollered from his room for someone to “GET ME OUTTA HERE!” The shower was going and I hit the ground running, two steps ahead of them all. Evelynn woke up, smiling, baby laughs spilling out of her like fairies, ready for another day of growing up and away.

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  • Sometimes it takes those middle-of-the-night baby cuddles to calm and direct our days.

  • Diana Trautwein

    Spectacular.  That’s all I can say.  Just spectacular.  “…baby laughs spilling out of her like fairies…”  Oh my. HOW I WISH there had been more space for co-sleeping when I was a mama – I did it occasionally, but always felt guilty somehow, like I was doing it ‘wrong.’  Oy vey.  This is the way to have a 3rd little one.  I do remember with both #2 and #3 that the middle of the night was ‘our’ time to be together…and much of the time, I reveled in it…except when I was overcome by exhaustion…Love, love, love re-thinking parenting through your lovely words and reflections.  Thank you.

    • You know, it’s one of the things that almost everyone does but no one talks about – like it’s “wrong” or something. It’s funny when you admit how many people will say, “Me, too!” and how they love it. And yes, sometimes exhaustion makes any contemplative wonder sit down tight and wait for another time here, too.

  • I love this.  It sums it all up so perfectly.  I can’t imagine having to get up at night to feed my baby…it’s so nice to just be able to latch her on and go back to sleep…with her fragrant little self right next to me.

  • Jamie

    I love this. I can so relate! I so often feel this way about our little son.

  • Tears in my eyes once again Sarah!! <3 All my girls have co-slept and I have cherished each one a little bit more because I know how fast it goes. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kristen

    Love it. And seriously? Two steps ahead of your kids?!?! What’s your secret?

    • Well, *trying*….. Full disclosure! (I just have to have my shower first or I don’t get clean until like lunchtime. I have to go quick in the morning to have a good, relaxing day for the rest of it. And I’m an irritating morning person, like seriously, singing bad songs the whole kaboodle. Yikes.)

  • Rebecca

    Oh my… Thankyou for these beautiful words. I just felt so aware of my own heart beating as I read this, I connect so much with what you say. Thankyou Sarah, honestly I feel like I’m visiting with my “tribe” whenever I stop by here! I’ve been meaning to actually say hello for ages, so there’s no time like now 🙂 Heading off to bed now to spend a night of cuddling up to my little girl…

    • I love the Internet for that very reason – finding my tribe has meant the world to me, too. I know just what you mean.

  • Oh I love this! I cannot imagine sleeping without my baby curled up next to me. It makes me sad that those days are racing away…she’s not yet one and already wants to sleep with her big sister I”m sure…but I”m not ready to let those nights go yet. 

    • I know – I’m probably more wistful because I’m fairly certain that Evelynn is our last one so trying to savour it all, for sure.

  • Omygoodness yes! From the moment my second was born, I felt this urge to co-sleep, partially because she could not sleep for more than 20 minutes without me, but partially because I did not have the time  to just breath her in during the day.  I wouldn’t trade those nights of skin to skin time for anything. I actually still have a hard time when a toddler drags me out of a deep sleep, but I’m getting better at being in the moment and remembering that they are only going to need me for so long.

    • Absolutely – with my first, it wasn’t as *needed* for my own soul but with Joe and with Evelynn, it has made such a difference in my connection with them and peace in my own heart, knowing that they get some uninterrupted, much-needed time with me. Absolutely.

  • Hit the ground running? Not so much for me, its more like stiffly force myself to move, but yep, I hear you. Isn’t it amazing how you instinctively curl around the sleeping baby? Its my favourite time too, and I think we’re so blessed to be able to sleep/feed. I feel like Tiny is along for the ride too as I chase Addie all day trying to stay no more than 2 steps behind her.

    • Well, I’m one of those very irritating morning people, I’m afraid. I drag quite a lot in the evenings instead, running out of energy for sure. 

  • mundanemusings

    We don’t co-sleep, but we room-in. (No co-sleeping for fear of my husband squashing the poor dear – he’s a violent sleeper). There are times I almost resent the sharing – wanting to fill her love tank myself. But the grins and giggles when the other kids surround her, when her daddy walks in after work, when her never-met-a-stranger smiles take over – they make me know she is wanting for nothing.

    But right now? It’s the nights. The just-before-bed hours when I hold her close and know that the number of hairs on her head are counted with grace and the middle of the night wakings/feedings when we snuggle in bed together and I hold her close protecting her from her daddy rolling over to watch in his half sleeping way – those are the moments that I love most.

  • rillarevolution

    Wonderful post. I’ve always smiled sheepishly when being offered lots of sympathy for broken nights sleep in those newborn days as they are such a precious time I didn’t feel sympathy was right.  And you’re so right, especially when they are not the firstborn.  I have two boys two years apart and those night times where we could just gaze and snuggle and dose and feed were wonderful.  No washing to sort, no mess to tidy, no pirate ships to make, no potties to empty.  Just us, being mother and son.

    • I love that – just us, being mother and son. It’s so nice to remove the “things to do” for just a while, isn’t it?

  • Canita

    Lovely, Sarah!  I have always been surprised at how controversial a topic co-sleeping can be.  It seems like such an intuitive parenting technique to me and I’m definitely glad I chose to employ it when my daughter was smaller.  She’s now in her own bed at night, but still wakes me in the morning by peeking over the side of my bed! 🙂

    • I agree, Canita. It is very intuitive (witness how it is practiced world-over).

  • That just gave me goosebumps all over. So well written, so beautiful, such a perfect description. Thank you for sharing such an intimate moment. Enjoy it. My last baby is 18 months and those sweet night time hours are coming to an end. But the memories I will always cherish.  

  • Lovely. I felt the same way – especially with baby #2. 

  • Jennifer Fisher

    This post was sent to me by one of my good friends.  I  read it as I rocked my 8 month old to sleep and then proceeded to ugly cry.  I have been frustrated as of late with a sleep resistant babe.  This just made me slow down and remember why I love being a mama.  Thanks lady!