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The Quiet Moments

Cathy A. DeRaleau
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 4, July-August 2000, pg. 120

We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time

When my son David was born, the stream of advice that came from well-meaning friends and strangers overwhelmed me. I was told about a number of methods that were "proven" to lead to a happy, healthy baby and best of all, one who would sleep through the night!

As David grew, I started to hear the question, "Is he sleeping through the night yet?" over and over again. At three months, David was still waking once, sometimes twice, a night to nurse. When I talked about this, I noticed looks from experienced mothers that suggested I was doing something wrong. Then, all the suggestions designed to help David sleep through the night came flooding in. They ranged from, "Let him cry it out" to "Try giving him some cereal at night to fill him up before he goes to sleep."

The one bit of advice I never received was to enjoy those quiet moments of middle-of-the-night nursing.

When a child is born your life changes and you no longer sleep in large blocks of time, but rather in snippets here and there. For many mothers, it almost becomes a race to get your baby to sleep through the night so you can return to your "normal" habits.

Nursing is obviously best for the baby and is supposed to be very relaxing for the mother. I have to say that during the daytime, I just don't experience this. During the day, we face a multitude of distractions, and nursing sometimes seems like one more in a long list of tasks to accomplish. There is always something else that needs to be done or somewhere to go, if only this child would just hurry up and finish.

In the middle of the night, something magical happens. These distractions just melt away.

I admit, I was on the path to resenting those 2 AM feedings. Why Couldn't I have just one solid night of sleep? After all, I was up all day with my baby, was it fair that I should be up all night, too?

These feelings were particularly prominent this morning, when David woke me at 1 AM. The past three days have been miserable for me. I have been suffering with the flu, complete with sore throat. I felt as though I wanted to curl up and sleep through next week. One o'clock in the morning came around far too quickly for my liking.

But as I gazed at David's precious face as he nursed, those feelings began to drift away. His tiny hand reached up to touch me, his warm little fingers curling around my pinky. His eyes fluttered as he fought off sleep just one more time.

In that moment that I realized that yes, David will someday sleep through the night, and it will be on his own terms. When that happens, I feel as if I will be missing something. Quite frankly, I will miss these quiet moments that only we could ever share.

So, when it is my turn to dispense advice to the new mother, I will tell her to look forward to those middle of the night feedings. They will come and go all too quickly in the grand scheme of things, and these can be some of the most precious and personal memories a mother can have of her child's infancy.

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