It is 1:43 AM. I hear him in my sleep and drowsily pull myself out of bed to go get him. He is waiting for me, upset that it has taken so long, although it really has only been a few seconds.
When I enter his room he starts to calm but still tells me that he is hungry, thirsty or in need of comfort. He is satisfied when I pick him up and take him to my breast.
My baby is one, well past the age when society thinks babies should be sleeping through the night, and he still wakes between two and four times per night. Usually two, sometimes four, rarely- when sick or teething- more.
Neither of my older boys slept through the night before fifteen months so I don’t expect Andrew to. When people ask about sleep at night I laugh and shrug my shoulders. I shrug because he is following the same pattern as my older boys and I laugh because I don’t want him to sleep through the night yet.
I will admit that it is tiring and there are moments of frustration, “why he can’t just sleep through the night?” Coffee or strong tea is a need to get through the day, not something that I just have when I want. Daily naps are also needed. Yet I still cherish those moments in the dark with my baby.
My husband and I don’t plan on Andrew being our last child, but with his babyhood I have come to treasure each stage more and more. He is my baby, for now, and I want to be fully in these moments; I want to breathe in his sweet milky breath and feel it even as it calms. I want his sleepy body to weigh my arms down as he drifts to sleep. I want to see his eyes close, study his face, and feel his soft baby hands against my belly because I know too well how quickly this will be gone.
I’m not ready for my baby to night wean because it is my favorite time. In these moments in the dark I am the only one who can comfort him. During the day he will turn to Daddy or his brothers besides me for comfort. At night he only wants momma.
I’m not ready for my one-year-old to wean because our breastfeeding relationship reminds me of the Scriptures which speak of our Heavenly Father’s loving care.
“I will comfort you there in Jerusalem as a mother comforts her child.” Isaiah 66:13
“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15
When my son comes to me angry or hurt seeking comfort I am reminded of how God wants us to do the same thing; he wants us to come to Him with our hurts, with the things that make us angry, he wants us to come to Him as we are and like a nursing mother He draws us close and gives us comfort. When my baby calls to me in the middle of the night I am reminded that my Father wants me to come to Him at any time, no matter how dark my night may be, no matter what I feel I may have done, He wants me to call out to Him in the darkness and know that He will come running. He wants us to rest in His arms like a baby drunk on milk. He wants us to slow down our breathing, to trust that He will not let us go, to fall asleep with the awareness of His love.
I am not ready to lose this nightly picture of God’s goodness. I am not ready to miss the weight of Andrew relaxing and falling asleep in my arms. I am not ready for the baby to night wean.
It might be selfish, but I’m not ready. When Andrew does decide to night wean, or we help him make the transition to no more night nummies, I will miss these quiet middle of the night encounters with my boy. I will miss them even as I sleep through the night.