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In the Still of the Night Mothers' Stories
Cathy DeRaleau, New Castle, PA, USA
Photo: Davina Kecun

 

When I became pregnant with my first son, everyone had advice on getting through the nights. Apparently, nighttimes were going to be very difficult, and I was sufficiently scared. Then my son was born and I realized that nights didn’t have to be scary at all. Sure, my baby was up frequently, but it didn’t take long to realize that by breastfeeding I was able to calm him quickly and he would settle back to sleep, nestled snugly against my breast in the still of the night.

But something else happened in those first wee-hour nursing sessions. Those almost surreal quiet moments opened my mind to things I didn’t see during the busyness of the day time. At night, when it was just my baby and me, I would notice the curve of his ear or how his hair was splayed across my arm. I tended not to see the toys on the living room floor or the dishes in the sink.

The fact that I was so relaxed during these nursing sessions allowed my creativity to flow. Suddenly, that difficult situation that had plagued me during the day had a clear, almost simple solution. I had my baby and his demands to thank for allowing me to look at my problems through a new, more relaxed set of eyes.

Those first middle-of-the-night nursing sessions were ten years ago now, and my family has added three more children. Each of my children has given me the chance to spend these quiet moments together, and each experience has been a little different.

While I have had my share of days when I was walking in my sleep, I would remind myself to really look at my baby as he nursed. In this way, I would fill my nights with contentment and love rather than resentment because I was the only one who could feed my baby and I was the only one who could calm my baby. These times were special; something only my baby and I could share. It remained a time when nothing else mattered. All of the daily stresses, the laundry, the cleaning, the bills waiting to be paid, melted away in the soft cuddle only I could share with my baby.

All of the daily stresses, the laundry, the cleaning, the bills waiting to be paid, melted away in the soft cuddle only I could share with my baby.

I still hear people talk about how difficult nights can be with a baby or a toddler, and I am quick to contradict these stories. As often as I can, I point out that it is the best time to enjoy your baby completely. In the middle of the night, there are no siblings, no spouses, no chores, and no distractions. It is just you and your baby. Morning will come quickly enough and those magical moments will be swallowed up by the chaos of your daily routine. I tell as many moms as I can to enjoy the magic that nighttime will bring to her and her nursling.

My youngest is two now and is starting to show signs of weaning during the day. When she weans completely from the breast, I will miss my nighttime moments with her. Since I know that time is on the horizon, for now, I will continue to embrace those wee-hour nursing sessions and the special bond that they create.


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