waking up :: sarah bessey

Our littlest baby started her night life, sleeping right beside our bed in the same white bassinette as her brother and sisters and cousins. But now she is four months old and, like all Bessey babies, she’s a tall girl plus she rolls over like it’s her job so we moved her white crib into our room.

She goes to sleep for the night at about 7 o’clock in that crib. I’m a softie of a mum in many regards but I hold the line on a few things: sleep and routine being the two biggest, I think. So she nurses in bed with me and then I lay her down in her crib where she sleeps steady until the middle of the night. A few times she’s slept right through the night and I sing hallelujah. Usually though, I can hear her stirring before she even fully wakes up sometimes and, while nearly asleep myself, I rise from our bed and move to her, settling her back to sleep. If the soother won’t do, I lift her out of bed and bring her into our warm bed to nurse. I find sleeping with babies more intuitive and restful than fighting to keep a lonely baby in her own crib all night long. I need my sleep, too.

Inevitably, we will fall asleep together in my bed during the wee hours and then in the morning, we will wake up together.

This might be my favourite moment of the day. If she wakes first, she never cries, she lays there quietly watching my face and then she begins to paw at me with her not-yet-coordinated hands, reaching for me in her own way. Her firm little body is chubby and warm, zipped into her little sleeper.  I feel the light scratches and pushes but when my eyes blearily open and I look right at her, she breaks into the wide open smile of a happy baby, all baby gums and delight and squeals.

It’s a good way to start the day, to make someone so happy just by being awake and paying attention.

I want to laugh out loud at the sight of her grinning up at me. It almost makes up for the 5:30 a.m. wake-up call. (Almost.)

Our life is pretty full here. Throughout the day, Maggie Love is just along for the ride and that’s as it should be. The big kids adore her but they are busy and loud and demanding, too. She is woken up from naps more than I would like, the doors are slamming as everyone is in-and-out-and-in-and-out with the summertime ease. I work from home and so often she sits in her swing or plays on her little baby-mat while I cram in a few minutes of work here and there.

But at night, we sleep together and then we wake up together.

This is our time. While the rest of the house sleeps, we are breathing each other in.

My attention might be fractured during the day but we do find our moments – thanks to nursing, babywearing, or if we go visit my parents and then my mother sits and holds her for her late afternoon nap, patting her bum in the rhythm that has been passed down through the ages while rocking slowly. The night is the most sacred: the way our bodies fit together, I curl around her, she presses into me, her little tummy is full, we breathe together and rest at last.

We’re well-practiced by now, my husband and me, at this and now we know how quickly it goes, how soon they grow up and sleep in their own little beds and the earth continues to spin us around the sun. The babies who used to sleep in our beds are nearly nine and nearly seven and four. We will blink again and it will be first jobs and first dates.

So he always says that it’s one of the favourite sights of his life, the sight of the little babies we’ve made pressed against me in the morning, laying in white cotton sheets, my shirt all askew, and he wraps his arms around us both. The day will launch ahead quickly – he’s off to work, the tinies will tumble into the day, and away we all go.

We had thought we were done with this stage of life, so we are savouring every moment of the last little baby together. Store it up, we say, carry it in your heart. This will have to last us a lifetime. Someday our bed will be empty again at the right time, it will be just us two. I imagine us, grey and wrinkled, and he will say “do you know what the favourite sight of my life was?” and I will know the answer.

But for another little while, this is what it feels like to sleep with your sweet littlest babe, this is what it feels like to wake up to your own life, this is what it feels like to be in love.

photo by Sharalee Prang

I used to think God wanted a lot from me.
To the young women reading "Jesus Feminist"
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