Morning comes with bright light peeking around the edges of the window blinds. I am being summoned out of a deep sleep with the gentle stirrings of my sleeping baby curled up next to me. I draw her close with kisses and soft murmurings. With eyes still closed, she reaches her little fist out to grasp strands of my long hair, and she pops her trusty thumb in her mouth. This usually gives us some extra sleep before we start the day.
9 1/2 months old
When she stirs again, I remind her I’m here, reach for my firm foam wedges (2-12″ for comfortably sitting up in bed), clip my Brest Friend around my waist, and scoop my baby in my arms. She doesn’t have to cry. Many months ago, she mostly replaced her cry with a “cough” that means, “Hurry up, Mommy!”
Nursing in sleep in bed ~ 2 1/2 months old
She latches on, and her tummy begins to fill with her warm, nutritious breakfast. Another “cough” tells me to switch sides. Before she latches again, she does her morning stretch with arms quivering above her little head that she has arched back. Her legs are stretched right out, down to her bare toes, eyes still closed. Then she nurses more, and by this time, I am starting to fully awaken, and her eyes have begun to squint open, saying, “Of course it’s you, Mommy.” Then she concentrates on looking at me, and in spite of a few milky grins, and attempts at starting a conversation, she finishes her milk. I shove the wedges to the side, and we lay down and cuddle some more, and she begins to chatter and sit or stand on me. “Time to get up, Mommy!”
Up for the day!! ~ 6 1/2 months old
The rest of the day always includes several more nursing sessions, and a baby nursing nap here or there. Maybe even a sleep for Mommy and Baby in the La-Z-Boy chair. At least once a day, I help my six-year-old with his schoolwork with a nursing or sleeping baby in my arms.
Homeschooling a six-year-old
while nurturing a new baby ~ 20 days old
Baby’s bed is the Brest Friend on Mommy’s lap.
The view from my rocking chair ~ almost 5 months old
Occasionally, if Baby is extra tired and Mommy is not, I lay her on a little floor mattress that I slide out from under the bed. That way, I can step away from the area for short times while she sleeps safely. I have an audio/video monitor that I might use on those occasions.
Sleeping on the thin floor mattress next to the bed
during a daytime nap ~ 9 1/2 months old
I have never been a stickler for naps. Although Baby’s need for sleep is respected, I don’t find that naps require a certain place, time, or amount of time. Baby also does not determine our family’s daily activities. Baby may nap in my arms, in the carseat on the way to town, in the sling in a store, at the movies, during a walk, or in the backpack at the grocery store, etc.
Our lifestyle is very welcoming to a baby. She is part of the family, and with the exception of everyone having to wait while we pull off the highway for Baby to have a nursing break or diaper change now and again, there is really no time when Baby causes the family to miss anything. For example, this spring, we did eight Disney/Universal amusement parks in eight days, and we spent another day at the beach! Baby was on board and partying as hard as the rest! (I highly recommend bringing a baby with you to Disney/Universal. Child swap is awesome! The whole family stands in line, and then the parents take turns going on the rides with all the kids. Double the fun for the children in much less time!)
Napping in sling at a Hollywood Studios attraction ~ 8 months old
Nursing nap while visiting relatives ~ 4 months old
Typing the text for this article into the computer ~ 9 1/2 months old
At bedtime, usually around 10 PM, I pour a glass of water, locate the TV remote control, and carry my onesie-clad baby into the bedroom. I arrange my foam wedges, fasten my Brest Friend into place, and my baby begins her bedtime nursing. We both are relaxed, and she usually falls asleep quickly and peacefully. Sometimes, she is not quite worn out, but it doesn’t take much activity before she settles down for more breastmilk. I watch TV or read or write or talk while she nurse-sleeps. Even after she finishes nursing, I may keep holding her until my arm gets all sweaty, and her little body gets too warm. That is exactly where she is as I write these very words. I often don’t want to put her down.
Writing this article in bed with a pencil and paper
I didn’t want to put down my sleeping baby.
9 1/2 months old
I eventually gently position her beside me on her side facing me, with her back to the high, sturdy bed rail. If she isn’t in a deep sleep, she will grab my hair on the way down and suck her thumb while I cuddle and pat her back to sleep. I usually continue watching TV or read as late as I like, right next to my sleeping baby. (I have researched and practice SAFE sleep sharing, but get your own medical advice.) She will stir at least a couple times (more often in the early months) during the night, rarely with a cry, and I readily provide her nighttime comfort and nutrition. All is good.
As an older mother of five and after having experienced a devastating miscarriage, I know that this is a precious time, much to be appreciated, and will be gone all too soon. “Babies don’t keep.”
Nurturing my baby is truly my highest priority. The mutually satisfying mothering-to-sleep style I have chosen for each of my five babies is an alternative to the Ezzo, cry-it-out, sleep scheduling, Ferberizing methods.
I can’t think of anything more rewarding as a mother than the pleasant experience of nursing my baby to sleep and having my baby sleep next to me. I encourage you to consider being willing to experience and embrace this glimpse of unconditional love.
Trying to stick to strict schedules or having the attitude that if you “let baby get away with this, she will always want to do this” can take all the fun out of sleep-related mothering. Enjoy this peaceful mothering experience. Give your child the gift of your motherly comfort, and make your heart rejoice.
Live without regrets.
Asleep on Mommy ~ almost 5 months old
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11
“‘Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.’ For this is what the LORD says: ‘I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.’ When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass.” Isaiah 66:10-14
DISCLAIMER: I want to make clear that sleep-related mothering does not always go so smoothly, but I will attest to the fact that the vast majority of the past ten months of my baby’s sleep-related life has been exactly as described as above. Also, I am not an expert, and I am not giving advice, so please refer to your doctor regarding all issues mentioned here and on this website.
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NOTE: This is my contribution to the 8th annual Ezzo Week hosted at Tulipgirl.com from July 11 -17, 2011. “This week is devoted to both encouraging parents, as well as educating them on the destructive philosophies and practices associated with the parenting teachings of Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo.”