Madelyn has always been difficult to get to sleep. When I was pregnant she would do these somersaults (even when she was way too big and definitely shouldn't have been, ouch) trying to get comfortable and figure out this new body of hers. And now that she's here I've come to realize just how very particular putting her to sleep is, because that girl likes what she likes when she likes it. No questions asked. From the way she's being held, to the pace of the simultaneous bouncing and rocking motion, and how the binkie is angled in her mouth you HAVE to get it right or else she won't even close her eyes for you. It took us a loooong time to figure out what she likes and as a result she cried for the first 8 weeks of her life straight, then only cried "most" of the time for another month after that. Good times. (Especially when we went jean shopping at the outlet mall and had to leave before buying anything since she was just not having life.)
Even though putting her to sleep can be a disaster, to put it lightly ;) sometimes that girl surprises me. Sometimes no matter how long I bounce/rock her she squirms and wiggles and sleepily opens her eyes and looks at me. Those are the times when I know she just wants to be close to me again, the way she was when we used to be one person and I was the only one who held her and knew her.
So I lay her down and I take off my shirt and hold her next to me as she slowly nurses and my heartbeat finally lulls her to sleep. Those moments are some of my favorites. I wonder if she remembers that she was inside of me for so long. Or that I have been protecting her and nurturing her for her entire life. I wonder if she feels safest when I'm close, when she can feel the warmth of my skin, and can listen to the familiar pitter patter of my heart.
Whenever she falls asleep with her cheek pressed up to my chest I remember what it was like to feel her delicate (and sometimes not so delicate) movements when I was pregnant with her. I remember that moment when she first entered the world and she was placed on my chest and our eyes met for the first time and there were so many tears, I like to think she was as excited to meet me as I was to meet her. I remember that first day when everyone was holding her and passing her around the room but the moment I started talking she'd turn to look at me, (like when you're in a room full of people you've never met with only your husband by your side and all you want to do is be next to him so you won't feel so intimidated or alone). I remember that whole first day, how she was so alert and would gaze up at me while I held her close, memorizing my face like she was finally putting a face to someone she's known forever but never actually met. I guess that really is the way pregnancy is though, knowing someone but not knowing what they look like. I remember just hours after having her I was the most exhausted I'd ever been and a nurse placed her on my chest and she curled into a little ball and fell asleep instantly, like she finally felt safe again. I remember how hard breastfeeding was but when I read online that I should put her skin to skin on my chest before nursing to calm her down something finally clicked with her and she started latching.
Her closeness to me is natural and instinctive. And whenever she feels it too I know that she loves me as much as I love her and she needs me as much as I need her.
Being a mother connects you to your child in a way nothing else does, or ever will. It's a love and a bond that can't be understood unless you've experienced it. Whenever I see a pregnant woman or a mother of a small child we nod at each other and silently acknowledge how sacred our lives are and how much we understand one another. Because only mothers comprehend the amount of love and admiration one has for their child.
When I was pregnant I was so incredibly sick. I vommited every 20-30 minutes throughout the day for months straight and went down 20 lbs. I was given an IV 4 times, and went to the hospital three times. It was the most miserable time in my life. But I would do it all over again just to meet that little girl even if it was just for a day.
She has changed me so deeply and infinitely. I have never been so protective. I have never been so selfless. I have never been so passionate. (I have never been so emotional, hah). I am a better perosn because I am her mother.
While I was sick for those horrible months I wish I could have seen just one of the moments of her falling asleep on my chest, or the look in her eye when someone new is holding her and she realizes I'm not close enough and she whimpers and reaches for me. Because those moments are worth it. So very worth it.
And watching your perfect and beautiful baby sleep so softly is the greatest feeling in the world.