It’s 3 a.m., a time that I’ve become all too familiar with.
His rolling around and whines coming from the baby monitor wake me up, as usual. I watch him on the screen: his eyes open, he sits up, his whines turn into cries. Cries for me.
Even though I know he is crying for me, I wait. I’m waiting to see if he will self-soothe and put himself back to sleep, like all the sleep training sites and books say to do.
Five minutes go by. He’s still crying.
Ten minutes go by. He finds his pacifier and puts it in his mouth. He grabs his lovey and falls face forward onto the crib mattress. He is still and quiet.
“Is this it?” I wonder to myself. “Is this the night he won’t need me to nurse him back to sleep?” Deep down, I already know the answer to my own question.
I sigh, lift the covers up off me, and stumble out of my bed, down the hall, and into his room. He is happy to see my shadow in the dark, but he’ll be even happier once I start nursing him for comfort. I pick him up out of his crib, sit in the glider, and cradle him in my arms while he latches. While he nurses, I hold his free hand with mine, and I rock back and forth in the glider. Within minutes, he is asleep again.
Sometimes I’ll put him back in his crib right away so I can get some much-needed sleep. But sometimes I’ll continue to hold him, rock him, and stare at his perfect, angelic little face for as long as I can keep my eyes open. I think about how hard these 3 a.m. wakeups are on me right now, but secretly, I cherish them, because it is more quality time I get with my baby. As a working mom, I don’t get a lot of time with my child throughout the day. Every day, he wakes up around 6:30 a.m. I leave for work at 8am and I don’t see him again until 5:30 p.m. when I get home. His bedtime is 7 p.m., so I literally only seem him for about 3 hours a day. Three hours, that’s it. You can probably imagine the working mom guilt I bear daily.
So I continue to comfort nurse him around 3 a.m. every morning, because the way I see it, that’s our time to bond in dark silence after being away from each other all day. At 3 a.m., it feels like we’re the only two people in the world who are awake, who exist. It’s tiring and hard on me some days, but I know it’s not forever. And when he has weaned, is finally sleeping through the night, and doesn’t need our 3 a.m. bonding sessions anymore, I know for a fact I’ll miss them. I’ll miss our time.