Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thank you, God, for this child

It’s 3:04 a.m.
Four and a half hours ago, I went to bed. I think I was asleep before the pillow even got warm from my head on it. I was so tired. I am completely dead to the world, my favorite battered feather pillow on top of my head, blocking out the world. It’s a hot night, so the fan is in the window, blowing slightly cooler air in from outside. Somehow, even through the fan noise and the feather pillow and the deep sleep, I hear you down the hall, in your own room, in your crib, as you begin to stir in response to the hunger rumbles in your belly.
I slip out of bed and tiptoe down the hall, instinctively avoiding the squeaky spots in the old hardwood floor. Your dad and older brother still slumber peacefully, and the world is dark. I can just barely see you in the crib, your legs kicking, eyes wide open, waiting for me to come, as you know I will. I pick you up and you utter a shriek to let me know you mean business. You want food and you want it now.
3:05 a.m.
As I carry you to the living room, I nuzzle your neck. It smells faintly of the sweet potato I fixed you for dinner. “Oh, thank you, God, for this child,” I think, as I often do, as I often did with your brother when I’d get up at night with him.
You turned six months old today—how did that happen?!—and you’ve been dabbling in eating different fruits, vegetables and cereals, but you know you would rather have the good stuff from Mama. I know it, too, and am happy to comply.
We settle onto the couch and I position the old blue Boppy underneath your little body until we’re both comfortable, and then we relax in sync. It’s cozy here with you. My eyes are burning because I’m tired, but I wouldn’t trade these middle-of-the-night moments for anything. I know they will end all too soon. Some say you should be sleeping through the night by now. Perhaps you should. Maybe the 3 a.m. feeding is nothing but a ritual of comfort for you. That’s OK with me, at least for now.
I can barely see you in the dark, but I trace the contour of your impossibly soft, chubby cheek with my fingertip. I stroke the light blond hairs—what I call “ducky fuzz—on top of your head. “Oh, thank you, God, for this child,” I think again. I love you so much it hurts.
3:07 a.m.
You’re really going to town now. The slurp-swallow sounds are rhythmic and soothing. I’m doing what I’m meant to do, for you and only you. This is our time, no one else is invited. Our middle-of-the-night date.
3:17 a.m.
I wake up. My head had fallen back onto the couch with a painful snap. You’re done eating and have also fallen asleep, your mouth still working from time to time, just for a couple seconds. I’m not ready for our date to end just yet, though. I pull you up to my shoulder and hug you. Your head fits exactly into the crook of my neck and you sigh the sweetest little angel whisper. My eyes tear up instantly. “Oh, thank you, God, for this child.”
After a few more moments with you, I hook a toe under the edge of the coffee table to help pull myself to standing. I had you half a year ago, but my abs are still somewhat weak. Slowly, I do a swaying dance-walk toward your room with you still on my shoulder.
In the dim blue light of your nightlight, I lay you in your crib. You whimper softly as contact between us is broken, and I lay one hand on your full, warm tummy. You settle back into a peaceful sleep. I tiptoe to your doorway and stop to take one more glance at you.
“Oh, thank you, God, for this child,” I think once again, as I return to bed.
I’ve read that breastfeeding is one of the best gifts you can give your child. I’m not sure, though, who gets more out of these middle-of-the-night feedings, you or me.

This post was written in honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, as an entry to a contest at this site:


FitCrazedMomma said...

This is really beautiful Krys!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh what joyful memories your essay evoked. Thanks for sharing

Yakini said...

Oh my goodnesss, this is an absolutely beautiful post. You captured so perfectly how special those middle of the night feedings can be. Although my son is now 8 months he still wakes up just once (around 2:00 am) to eat. And although the pediatrician told me that he needs to be weaned off of this (and to let him "cry it out" for 2 weeks until he is used to it) I just can't bring myself to it. As a full-time working mom I don't get to spend nearly as much time as i'd love with the baby... so I really do value that once nightly feeding. Yeah, you miss a little bit of sleep but it's so, so worth it. Great post!!!


Ang said...

This is the most beautifully written post I have ever read about breastfeeding. I too wonder who gets the most out of those the rest of the house is asleep moments I share with my little guy.

Dagmar Bleasdale [Dagmar's momsense] said...

Oh, I love this post. Congrats to your win! I absolutely adore breastfeeding my son, who is now almost three. When I breastfed him is when I feel most like a mom and most like I am doing what I was meant to do. I love breastfeeding and wish every mom could enjoy this special gift that breastfeeding is. I am so glad L hasn't decided to wean. Although breastfeeding a toddler is a whole different experience, I still enjoy it. But I do remember those precious moments with him when he was an infant and so dependent on me for 9 month of exclusive breast milk.

I write about my adventures with breastfeeding at

Kelly said...

What a sweet post. I love breastfeeding too. I was so sad when my first daughter abruptly weaned which I later found out was because I was pregnant. I'm still nursing my 15 month old and love that I have something to immediatly calm her down when she wakes up in the middle of the night

Josie said...


LaDy LaDuke said...

What a pleasure to read. Beautifully written, and captures the moment and emotions so perfectly.

Elana Kahn said...

That is such a beautiful post!!! I wish my body had been able to breastfeed the twins for more than 3 months....and done it properly at all for the first 3. *sigh* Maybe next time...