i have an announcement to make

Posted by on September 13, 2007

This is going to be a really pedestrian mommy post, but I feel the need to share my news with anyone who will listen. Esme, all by herself, with no prompting from me, slept without waking on Tuesday night, almost twelve hours straight.

While she usually wakes for two feedings, and has been for so long, the two preceeding nights she only woke once, and that by itself was rather arresting. I almost didn’t want to get excited or tell anyone lest I jinx the situation and it never repeat itself again. So when she followed this up by not waking at all, I was really floored. You must understand, this is unprecedented. She will be a year old next Wednesday, and has never, ever, not even once, slept through the night.

Interestingly (or not interestingly at all, depending on who’s reading this), I was just having a conversation with my friends Molly and Paige on Sunday about this topic. Both have the experience of waking through the night with their babies many months after their first birthday has come and gone, and my heart had settled into the knowledge that, since I can’t seem to muster the gumption necessary to train her out of the wakings, I will probably have to just embrace them as a part of my life for a while longer, well into Esme’s second year.

On Sunday night when I put her down in her crib and stroked her head I said in my softest, sweetest voice, “Good night, go to sleep, and I’ll see you when you wake up for your first feeding.” She almost seemed to glance up at me like she knew what I was saying, and curled up peacefully to drift off. In retrospect, it seems as if she finally had what she’d been looking for: the assurance that I am here for her absolutely. The trial period is over; no need to cry out at midnight for reassurance. Of course, I’m sure this is partly in my head, but truly, I can’t believe that the ending of this night waking era is strictly due to bodily mechanisms, a maturing metabolism, or gastrointestial ability to go longer without calories. I feel sure that it has something to do with the emotional connection between her and me.

It’s the end of an era. I know that there may still be some night waking to come, but I still believe that a grand precedent has been set, and the fact that I didn’t have to force it is incredibly rewarding for me.

The other side of the story is that my body will need to relearn the art of sleeping all night without interruption. Even though she did not wake up, I did–at the usual times. I lay there in the dark wondering when the cry would come. When it didn’t, I was unexpectedly sad. I will miss gathering her into my lap at night to nurse her.

Maybe I’m of a sentimental variety of mothers. Maybe I’m spoiled. If I had a job like other people, or were a single mom, or maybe if I had a house full of other kids, or whatever, I’m sure that I wouldn’t have had the luxury of sustaining such a schedule for a year. But I did, and now, so unexpectedly and out of the blue, it appears that Esme is night weaning herself…otherwise known as growing up.

  1. Ser
    September 13, 2007

    Oh, the bittersweet moments of our children growing up! I’m happy that you have some hint of more sleep in your future. Back when Luke was such a bad sleeper, I used to take benadryl once per week so I could get a good night’s sleep, since even when he slept well, I was so hyper-attuned to his every noise. Perhaps something for you to try if Esme is sleeping more?

    Esme looks so grown up in the picture!

  2. anna j
    September 13, 2007

    She does indeed–I don’t recognize her anymore!
    As for the “event,” please give Esme an extra congratulatory kiss from me. And give yourself a missing-you hug from me as well 🙂

  3. Jenny
    September 17, 2007

    Julia,

    This is a beautiful post. Makes me think I should post a bit about my sleepless nights–then you could revisit the subject nostalgically.

    Truth be told, I don’t like to wake, but I like to be awake, all alone with Natalie in our dark and peaceful home.

  4. Jamie
    September 23, 2007

    Congratulations on your return to sleep-filled nights and coherent dreams! You’ll have to make up for the missed nighttime cuddle with a little extra daytime snuggling.

  5. Alishia
    October 9, 2007

    Ahhh, I remember those days well–the sweetness and the bittersweetness. So sad and good and nostalgic at the same time.