Know that as you nurse and rock and bounce and pace and sing and cuddle that you are giving them the greatest gift, you are keeping them safe.
For me, the decision was very easy. I could not stand to hear my baby cry. I could not imagine closing her into a room on her own and listening to her wail for me. It would crush my soul. It was not even a question. I had to answer those cries, always and quickly.
Parents are not built to let their children cry. There is a reason the sound pushes us to
This does not mean nighttime parenting was easy. It was not. It was hard. And it was all me, every night. My babies only want me in the night. (This isn’t the case with all babies. You don’t have to do it alone. Nighttime parenting doesn’t necessarily mean mom has to work the entire night shift with no breaks.)
With my first it was every 45 minutes or less for years. It was nursing and rocking and singing and crying (me crying, not just her). But it was also surrender. It was knowing that I had made the best choice for her. That I was giving her something so many babies are denied. My job as her mama did not end when she went to bed for the night, it just didn’t and I didn’t fight it. Being (mostly) OK with that made it OK.
Surrender: “to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another.”
I gave in. To her needs. To the season of life. To the moments alone in the darkness being her everything.
And then something happened…
She slept. She got BIG and she slept. It didn’t happen overnight (she was 3 when she really started resettling herself and sleeping through the night) but looking back now and knowing just how fleeting babyhood is, it feels like such a short amount of time she really needed me through the night. I am still with her as she falls asleep but now at 5 she just sleeps. My job still doesn’t end when she goes to sleep for the night but it’s more of an on-call position in the night now.
And my second is very different. Yes he wakes (remember, all babies wake) but he resettles himself often. He is not a magic unicorn as he still needs me from time to time but he is an ‘easy baby’ when it comes to sleep.
So even though you might not be able to hear my words when I say:
it won’t be like this forever
I say them anyways.
In the meantime just be present. Be what your babies need in the moment you are in with them now.
What they will need tomorrow may be different and before you can truly believe it, they will be BIG. And you will be missing their tiny baby head snuggled up next to yours as you nurse and bounce and rock and sing, and you may even wish for just one more of those nights where you are so deeply and truly needed.
Jessica Braidwood is an entrepreneur and an unschooling attachment parent. She lives on the West Coast of Canada in Victoria, BC with her husband and 2 kids. She blogs at Pocketful of Pebbles and believes strongly in intentional living and finding the village families need to be successful.