Just the other day, our youngest baby girl, Isla, had her nine month check up.
Our tiny little peanut was just as healthy as can be. Even though she was healthy, the doctor did suggest that we start helping her with her sleep. We left with instructions to start night training in order for her to sleep through the night. Isla is not the best night sleeper, she wakes up anywhere from 3-9 times at night. I would feed her each time she woke up, let her fall asleep while nursing, and gently lay her back in her bed multiple times each night. As tiring as it is, it is also such a joy to be able to have this special, quiet and uninterrupted time with her since the days are filled with the chaos of a full house.
I had such mixed emotions when the doctor encouraged us to start sleep training Isla. I wanted so badly to get a full night's sleep again, but I know that this being our last child, a huge chapter in my life was about to end. Training Isla to sleep through the night meant no more midnight snuggles, no more sweet lullabies at 2 am, no more tiny baby fingers stroking my cheek as she nurses back to sleep, and most of all, it meant my baby girl was no longer a baby. There's so much that I didn't want to let go of, but letting go of my last baby being a baby was the hardest to swallow. Whether you nurse or bottle feed, you know the power of the midnight snuggles and feedings. They help create and nurture that unbreakable bond between a mother and her child.
As I helped little Isla through her bedtime routine an internal battle was raging on in my mind. Did I have the strength to let her cry herself to sleep in the middle of the night? Should I just keep letting her by my little baby? I sang as I put her pajamas on, said her prayers as I zipped up her sleep sack, and I rubbed her head as she nursed and drifted off to sleep. I sat there a little longer that night and just soaked up all the snuggles I could. I counted each of her fingers and placed her hand in mine. I gently kissed her forehead as I laid her down to sleep and fought back tears as I walked up the stairs, leaving my baby for the last time that night.
I was tossing and turning all night just waiting for her to wake up and cry for mommy. I would start to drift asleep and then my mommy sense would go off. I thought for sure I heard her cry, but there was no sound. I would then be wide awake anxiously waiting to hear a scream. I must admit, there were a few times I almost got out of bed to wake her up and cuddle her again. Each time I awoke I would check the clock; 11:32 pm- no crying, 1:17 am- no noise, 2:38 am, 3:51 am, 4:47 am, 6:33 am, not a sound. In the morning, I rushed down to make sure she was alright and as I got closer to her door, I heard sweet little baby babbles coming from the room. My heart melted. She was lying innocently in her bed, trying to eat her feet and chattering sweet sounds into the world.
My little baby girl had slept peacefully through the whole night. She didn't cry for mommy once. I have to be honest, I mourned my baby's night wakings for a while; Those moments are so precious. As I thought about it more, I realized how selfish I had been. I had been holding her back. I was selfishly trying to keep her a baby forever and not letting her grow into the young child she was meant to be.
She was cranky throughout the day and not napping well because she was not sleeping soundly at night. All because I didn't want her to grow up. I needed to let her grow up. I needed to let her be little and I needed to let her be herself. I'm not saying it's wrong to enjoy all the sweet moments with your children, what I am saying is that as mothers, we need to know when to let go. We have to find a balance between letting our children grow up and protecting their innocence. At times I find myself leaning towards not letting them grow up and all that does is delay them pursuing their own amazing lives.
In time, they will become who they were meant to be and grow up as quickly or as slowly as they need. Let your children be little, let them be and watch them bloom.