A year ago this month, Mac woke during the night for the very last time. What a gift! Since last February he has slept like a champ.
I knew it would feel good to have a baby who sleeps through the night. What I didn't know, though, was how bittersweet it would be.
Along with the middle of the night feedings came snuggles, silent conversations, quiet coos and a tiny, perfect head nestled into my neck. Because he sleeps 12 hours a night, Mac crams as much activity as he can into his waking hours - leaving little (read: no) time for snuggling or even a quick hug.
Sunday night I caught a glimpse of Mac on his monitor; he was positioned awkwardly, with his chin resting on the mattress. I feared he'd wake up with a crick in his neck and decided to adjust him before I hit the hay.
I tiptoed into the nursery, tilted Mac's head to the side and, before I knew what had happened, was lifting him out of his crib, scooping him into a hug and letting his precious, heavy head fall onto my chest. It was heaven.
Macky smelled like baby shampoo and clean laundry and felt warm, snuggly and absolutely delicious in my arms. I couldn't bring myself to put him down, so I rocked him in his glider, so rarely used these days as anything besides a trampoline for our wild man as he exclaims "chee! chee!" - his version of "chair."
In Mac's world, chairs are a base camp for rocket launches and toddler leaps. In mine, they're the perfect spot for rocking sleepy babies.
Mac has never wanted to be rocked. His bedtime routine from day one was simple: feed him, change him, put him down. If he's tired, he wants simply to sleep - right away. I know what a blessing that is, but occasionally I feel shortchanged. If I can't rock Mac now, when can I?
I won't lie (and this won't shock you): I cried holding Mac that night. I thought of all the times I woke, bleary-eyed, to feed him and wondered when I'd get my nights back. Now that I have them, I'd give anything to feel the weight (considerably more now than a year ago) of my son curled up on my chest.
We rocked for ages and I prayed over every part of him, thanking God for the gift of being his mom. It saddened me to think this could be the last time I'd hold him in the middle of the night, the last time I'd really get to snuggle with my busy boy.
Sneaking into a nursery seems slightly less creepy than waking a kindergartner in the night for a hug, but it's still not something I can do forever. Mac is a heavy sleeper, so I knew he would keep dreaming in his crib or my arms. It was worth the chance either way.
When I came back downstairs, B called me a baby-stealer; he had looked at the monitor and seen an empty crib. When he asked what I'd been doing, I could barely find my voice to tell him. It felt so good snuggling with Mac on Sunday night that I might have done it again last night.
When Mac wakes in the morning, he does so full-force, ready to start the day. I barely catch a second of his cheek pressed against mine when I get him up, already wriggling to get down and play.
That's ok, though. If only for the last two nights, I've gotten my fill of snuggly, sweet baby time. He may not have any memories of it, but I always will.