I remember the first time I held Sophie until she fell asleep in my arms. I remember how she would curl her tiny hand round my collar as a comfort to sleep. I remember the last time I held Sophie and rocked her to sleep. I remember the last time she cuddled into me and fell asleep, her eyelashes resting on her plump little cheeks. I remember breathing her in and running my hand over her wispy blonde hair. I remember this was a year ago.
I didn’t know it was going to be the last time she let me hold her to sleep.
I didn’t know that she was going to be so excited about moving from a cot to a toddler bed that cuddles to sleep with mummy was ending. I didn’t know.
You never know the last time is the last time. It only hit me tonight, when I picked Madeleine up out of the cot and she snuggled into my neck. I’ve been so busy feeling exhausted and run down and frustrated because of colic/sleep deprivation/toddler Olympics that I haven’t had a decent chance to stop spinning in circles and just breathe Madeleine in. Don’t get me wrong, she’s fallen asleep on me numerous times, but it always seemed clouded over by the “now, how do I get her to the cot without waking her???” Worries. It’s always been “thank goodness, now I can rest”. Of course, no one with a newborn can really blame me for that, throw in an excited toddler who doesn’t nap and you generally get points for remembering to brush your teeth.
She is now seven months old. Seven whole months have passed and it has been a blur of sleepless nights and sleep training. Teaching Madeleine that mummy cannot possibly rock her for hours and hours until she is in a dead sleep, only to be wide awake the moment her head hits the cot. Teaching Madeleine that falling asleep on her own is a good thing. Well, it is a good thing, self settling is important all round not just for my own sleep but for hers too. The trouble is, now she can do it, I miss my cuddles. She now needs her own space to fall asleep and this is great for me especially as her bottom teeth are FINALLY gracing us with their presence. She very very rarely falls asleep on me for a nap or bedtime now. She likes to starfish in bed, and who can blame her?
Tonight, three hours after bedtime has been her first wake up and she was a little upset. The bottom teeth and gums are so sore and she was just quietly and gently crying, so I picked her up. I expected her to wake up fully and get myself into a shit situation and no sleep. Instead, she snuffled into my neck, clutched hold of my necklace and snored away. I didn’t put her down straight away, I couldn’t. I gently swayed, and breathed her in. I smelt the milk and sweet smell in the crease of her neck. I could smell her shampoo. I smelled a sweetness that is Madeleine and a scent I just can’t describe. I held her and rocked her gently for a good twenty minutes before laying her down. She didn’t wake up again, she snored a little more and made me smile.
It really hit me that one day, she and Sophie won’t want me to cuddle them at all, let alone to sleep. They won’t want me invading their space and smelling their hair. Sophie is already so independent, she loves it when I play with her hair and will ask to sit with me, and in church she lays her head on my shoulder while I sing the hymns and sway at the back. But she’s growing up. They both are.
You just, you never know when the it’s the last time.