Photo by Brad Smith
Most parents can't wait until their children sleep through the night. This mother embraces those nighttime encounters as a blessing.
become sacred for me. I'm not quite sure when it became that
way, but it was sometime during my pregnancy. I give thanks
each time night comes, for it has become "our" timetime for
you and me to celebrate our mother-daughter bond.
When I was pregnant, it was always at night that you were
most active. I would lie awake and feel your movements, as
if we were carrying on a silent conversation. We were soul
"You're so lucky," your dad told me when I was three months
pregnant. "You get to feel all of the baby's movements, and
have her all to yourself for nine months more than everyone
else." I had already known how truly blessed I was, but it
was nice to hear it out loud.
As a matter of fact, following your birth, I experienced
a bit of sadness at having to share you. For nine months,
it was you and me. I alone got to feel your every move, your
kicks, your hiccups. I nourished you through my own body.
You were my constant companion on this incredible journey
and, no matter what, I was never alone.
and Spiritual Nourishment
Over the monitor,
I hear your cries and jump from bed with equal parts concern
and joyconcern for your cries, but joy that our nighttime
ritual has begun. I pick you up from your crib and hold you
close against my body to calm you. I sit in the rocking chair
and begin to feed you. I feel the warmth of your skin against
mine, close my eyes and say a silent prayer of thanks for this
The decision to nurse you was one with which I struggled.
The first days after you were born were awkward and difficult
for both of us. "Give it time," my older sister encouraged
me. And so I did. Gradually both of us fell into rhythm with
each other, and the bond was formed.
The thought of providing you with the best possible nutrition
available drove me to succeed. And my perseverance paid off.
At your one-month checkup, I rejoiced when the pediatrician
announced a four-pound weight gain over your birth weight.
I celebrated, knowing the role I had played in that achievement.
My pre-pregnancy jeans would have to wait a while longer.
My body, in its current state, was busy nourishing you and
was, therefore, perfect.
Moves Too Quickly
A box in the corner
of your room catches my attention, and a sudden feeling of sadness
comes over me. Inside the box are clothes that you have already
outgrown. I recall how, for nine months, I folded and refolded
those clothes, awaiting your arrival. Now, they will have to
wait for the next child. The box serves as a reminder of time
This is also evident in the decreasing number of pages in
your baby book. Every few days I find myself noting another
first in your lifefirst smile, first laugh, rolling over
for the first time. I celebrate your achievements, but mourn
the time too quickly passed.
After you finish eating, I change your diaper, then sit
back down to rock you to sleep. Now that you have been fed
and changed, we take time to smile and talk with each other.
I sing you songs that used to put me to sleep as a young child.
I don't remember all of the words, but you don't seem to mind.
I hold you close, remembering the feeling of being wrapped
in my mom's and dad's arms. I hope that you will have the
same wonderful memories of our times together that I have
of growing up.
has given me a glimpse
into the divine.
"Just trust your instincts," my mom told me before I gave
birth. My instinct is to hold you like this forever, but I
know I can't. Eventually I will have to let go, and hope that
I've done my best. But for now I soak up everything about
youthe way you smell, look, sound. You truly are a miracle.
Caring for you has given me a glimpse into the divine. Growing
up, I always thought of God in terms of a parent experiencing
all of the joys, frustrations, heartaches and millions of
other emotions that my mom would tell me only a parent can
truly know. Now, as I hold you in my arms, I am beginning
to understand the scope of that love, and it draws me closer
to God. You draw me closer to God.
Your eyes slowly get heavier and eventually close.
I place you in
your crib and stand there for a moment, just watching you. When
I was pregnant, everyone told your dad and me that our lives
would never be the same. They were right. We just weren't aware
of how much better you would make our lives. Sometimes when
we sit and play with you, we ask ourselves what we did for fun
before you were born.
I hold my breath as you stir. Your pacifier falls out of
your mouth, and I'm sure I'll have to rock you back to sleep.
You immediately, though, replace the pacifier with your thumb
and drift back to sleep.
As I stand there, I recall the pediatrician urging me to
get you to take a pacifier. It's easier to break the habit
of a pacifier, she tells me. Your father and I have tried,
but to no avail. You look so content and peaceful sleepingthumb
in mouththat I decide there are worse things than thumb-sucking.
I am reminded not only of my own less-than-desirable habits,
but also that you are your own person, and that this is not
the last time you will do your own thing, despite what I say.
I gently kiss you on the forehead and head back to bed,
awaiting our next nighttime encounter. As I crawl in under
the covers, your dad asks me if everything is O.K.
"Everything's wonderful," I say. "Everything is wonderful."
is an assistant editor of this magazine and a graduate of
the College of Mount St. Joseph. She and her husband welcomed
their first daughter into the world last November.