Monday 6 June 2011

Elusive lasts

Most nights I fall asleep with my husband on one side of me and the baby curled up against my other side. The preschooler, if he's joined us already, snores softly from his pallet on the floor. It's a peaceful feeling, having the three of them right there, knowing we're all safe and content and tucked in for the night.

Many nights I wake up to rustling followed by a whispered question: Can I snuggle with you for a minute?

Yes, come on up.

He does, careful not to wake his baby brother. He curls up on my stomach and I kiss the top of his head, breathe in his delicious scent. Perfect.

Eventually he gets heavy. Joints begin to ache and I shift. He accepts that as his cue to return to his pallet. Good night, I whisper, and the two of us fall asleep again.

Sometimes he sleeps all night and it is light when I hear that rustle, that whisper. His brother rarely sleeps through that snuggle, and the two of them leave a few minutes later, off to play together and share a yogurt while I doze a few minutes longer.

I join them, get their breakfast, and tell the boy how nice it was to snuggle with him for a few minutes last night. I grin at his inevitable reply, eyes wide, hopeful, but with a cheeky grin of his own: Would you like it if I snuggled with you ALL night?

I don't have to answer; he knows that as lovely as that sounds, none of us sleep well in a bed with four people.

As I was awoken again earlier this week for a middle-of-the-night snuggle, I thought of how, in time, he's not going to want to snuggle with me anymore. I won't get to kiss his soft hair and inhale his sweet scent. He'll be too big to curl up on me, and far too much of a "big boy" to even want to.

My baby's going to grow up, and one of these snuggles, one of these nights, will be our last.

And I won't even know it.

I find myself wanting to hold on to those precious lasts. The firsts are easy. I can write those down in their baby books, send out excited emails to grandparents, blog about how proud I am that my baby did this amazing new thing - just like every baby before him.

But these lasts...they're not so easy to catch, and far more bittersweet when I do.

I remember when the boy truly weaned. His brother was tucked in my womb, my milk had long dried up, and his nursing sessions had been getting shorter and shorter each night. Minutes...seconds...then less than a second, not even a real latch. I mused that he was just "kissing them goodnight" by that point. One night, instead of wanting milk, he asked to lay on them, leaning against my bare chest for a short while before climbing in bed. Then...nothing. He was truly and officially weaned.

I hold that precious last close, grateful for the sweet memory. But so many other lasts go by without my even realizing it. How many have I missed?

The realization makes every moment that much more precious to me, for who knows what last it holds.


  1. I can't explain how much this speaks to my soul, thankyou. Such precious words which I needed to hear right now. xx

  2. What a beautiful post.

    "And I won't even know it."

    I got a chill when I read that line. It's so true, despite being hard to imagine at times. Thanks for the reminder to snuggle a little longer and cherish those moments a bit more.

  3. This totally made me tear up this morning. It sounds so similar to our household. Such beautiful quiet moments in the middle of the bliss.

  4. Somewhat unrelated did you handle the newborn period with the older one sneaking into the bed? My husband doesn't handle sleep interruptions well so having her sneak into his side of the bed isn't a good option...he just takes her immediately back to her room. For "don't squish the baby" reasons I don't want her to go where she used to, but I'm having trouble thinking of a good solution...

  5. I understand your concern, Kate. During my second pregnancy, we slowly transitioned the older one from our bed to his new spot on the floor (he starts the night in his own room, but is welcome in our room if he wakes up during the night). He was 2y8m old when the baby was born, and he knew he wasn't allowed into our bed.

    That didn't actually last long, though. He'd often sneak in between my husband and I, so I'd have him on one side and the baby on the other. Then for a while they did sleep beside each other; the tiny newborn stage doesn't last long with my big babies, so I allowed it as soon as the baby was big enough to "fight back" if the boy got too close. They slept well together and it was sweet to see them snuggling.

    That worked fine for a while, but as the baby grew and he grew it just got to crowded. So the poor boy was re-booted to the floor. ;)

    Now when he sneaks in for a cuddle, it really is just for a cuddle. He stays for a few minutes and then goes back to the floor.

    I was worried about him ending up beside the newborn, but somehow it just didn't end up being an issue.

    So, a few options:
    - have her sleep on your other side so she isn't beside the baby;
    - have her sleep at the end of the bed if she'll stay in one place (the boy did that for a while too);
    - put the baby in a bassinet or co-sleeper next to the bed so s/he has his/her own safe space;
    - enforce sleeping on the floor when she comes into your room; or
    - let your husband take her back to her room each night.

    Good luck finding an arrangement that works for your family!

  6. A friend shared this with me. Very sweet. I am 35 weeks pregnant and our 28 m/o son co-sleeps with us. (he also weaned due to my pregnancy). With only 4 weeks to go i'm not sure what the "plan" should be, especially since his 'bedroom' is all the way upstairs. He is so attached and I love the snuggle time but I need some rest... how did you get your boy from your bed to the floor? I just don't think my son will just be ok with that... when I do successfully get him down in his own bed he comes into our room in the middle of the night. I love our snuggle sessions but need to make a decision before baby comes so he doesn't think it's "HER FAULT". thank you.

  7. We've been ending up five in the bed many nights, lately. It's definitely crowded but paradoxically I find myself sleeping better. They're all right here so I'm not listening for them while I sleep. I can just sleep. The one year old is teething and the five year old is going through a bout of anxiety and the three year old - I think she just doesn't want to miss out on a good thing. They all start in their own rooms every night but there's a pretty predictable migration. This really spoke to me because my five year old in particular, I keep thinking I should encourage her harder to return to her own space. She's too big for this. She's so big. But you know? She's such a good snuggler. She's deriving comfort from the closeness of my body and she won't always want that, and so I keep thinking I should encourage her to return to her room, but I never actually do so. Because you're right: the night will come when she *doesn't* show up.
    And then what?

  8. true and poignant. I don't think I remember the last time I nursed Bea, which makes me very sad now but I was in such a rush to have her weaned at the time. I don't want to miss any more lasts, but I'm pretty sure it'll happen. Stages seem to just fade in and out...

  9. Cash's Mama, we moved the boy to the floor during my pregnancy for the same reason - I didn't want him to feel "kicked out" by his baby brother. To move him, I talked to him about the new plan and then consistently moved him back to the floor when he slipped into our bed. Although it was dreadfully uncomfortable, he really liked it if I held his hand while he fell back to sleep. I also compromised by allowing him to join us in the bed as soon as his dad left for school/work in the morning, so we still got our cuddles that way. He joins me for a couple of hours most mornings.

    Robin, it's so true, I sleep far better when we're all in the same room together. I wish I could sleep well with all four of us in the bed - that sounds so lovely!

    They do usually just fade in and out, don't they, Michelle? As the toddler barged in on me in the bathroom (AGAIN) today, I was thinking there were some lasts I sure wouldn't miss at all - but just as I thought that, he marched up to me, grabbed my face, and gave me a big kiss. Maybe I'll miss it after all.

  10. Brought tears reading this! very truth indeed!

  11. As a Nanna with a daughter and son, this makes me cry. To think that they are now parents themselves. Time is so precious, sometimes gone before we realise it. Stages of life are very much in the forefront of my mind at the moment. Impossible to revive, always in my memories and now it's the turn of my daughter, daughter=in-law, son and son-in law to experience these exquisite moments with their own children. Isn't God gracious as he keeps the cycle of baby hood andchildren going on and on and on......but with different people. Love Louise James

  12. A lovely post! Thanks for re-sharing. Most of my babies I sensed were coming to their end so I felt God was preparing me or them or both of us to the end of our nursing relationship and on to new and exciting things. But our youngest, who just turns five on the fourth of July, weaned suddenly (well, she was four and a half, not that sudden!) at Christmas time.

    It was without the usual "I think I'm going to wean soon" comments that came from my other babies, just, done. And then there have been no more babies. A good reminder for us all to be so aware of each moment as gift, each nursing, each snuggle, even each tantrum! Blessings, PM

  13. Hubs and I are currently expecting kiddo number four, and fatasizing about a house without change tables, Exersaucers and diapers. I'm quite ready to move on to the next stage of raising kids, but at the same time trying not to wish away the moments that make babyhood so sweet.

    I'm your newest subscriber, and I found you through the Saturday Evening Blog Post :)