The wail pierces the night like clockwork and both of our adult bodies tense as hers goes all out awake. “Momma hasn’t responded. Momma is laying quiet and I see her there.” the tiny mind seems to find a way to shriek when her careful , but quiet Momma utterances haven’t worked through my dreams. I lean over and pat her back. This is the 10th night in a row that the child has begun what is now become a nightly ritual of waking every 3 hours to “check in” with us. Just the night before Lovey had asked, “Shouldn’t she be sleeping through the night by now?” Yes and no.
At 15 months, we’re still nursing. It’s briefer and interrupted by other little hands, and noses and stories sensing a sitting adult and needing to come climb up and near. The grace with which Sugarplum takes in her family’s constant presence slays me over and over. Come bedtime, she quickly reaches her left, little dimpled, starfish of a hand over to pat Lovey; a shy smile creeping up around her busy lips. During the day as one set of sandy, sticky lips connects to her baby-soft tendrils after another she wiggles to make eye contact then sighs and settles back in. Always working her hands through a blanket- gauze, fleece, cotton- whatever- just needing to knead. If one of those sister’s should dare remove it her temper will flare and soften as they hand it back.
She’s busy now too though, no more leisurely sessions nursing at the computer, with a book, in front of the TV or a hot meal like during the early months. Once her hands or eyes or ears lock into any of those she’s off and up, only returning with a protest if I try to set her down. When she decides she’s done, she’s done. She rolls and climbs and scoots away. She wants to lay down or play, not to be held , not to be cuddled, not to have Momma’s nose sniffing her baby neck and stinky ears.
And that’s ok. I don’t feel bittersweet at the growth this time around. I’m in awe, amazed as in one moment she sits, the next she stands, the next she walks, she runs, she climbs, she falls and stands, she turns back to huddle into our legs and then grabs our fingers to lead us off to the others.
I’m tired though. I can do one time a night. Each molar pearl that shoves through interrupts all of our sleep though and once the pattern starts she follows it to a t. By the 10th night in a row, I decided to use our night-night routine to try to sway her back to bed without a quick nurse. Night-night mirror, Night-night picture, Night-night books, Night-night lamp, Night-night Bunny-bear and Night-night Sugarplum. See you in the morning. To be fair, I’m sure it was quite hard to hear my whispers over her wails. And somehow shouting the soothing words didn’t seem like it would have quite the same effect. So I would wait for the pause to yawn and wipe her eyes clean of Mr. Sandman’s work and start the lyrical round that works like a charm each evening now. 56 minutes later she gave in and snored in response. Now days and nights later her little clock is reset to a solitary cuddle and nurse a night.
I’m thinking I’m ready to Good-night moon that single waking too though. Once that is set it will be time to move her in with the Sistred. That, I’m sure will bring a bittersweet swell. Or at least I hope it does. More than likely we’ll just turn our attention from Sugarplum’s nightly needs back to Zuzu’s; who has been eyeing the spot between us with a rejuvenated gleam for weeks now. Or maybe we’ll be allowed to sleep up till the time of The Quail’s early morning wanderings and eat/drink/Momma chants….since the thought of 5 of us actually sleeping a straight 7-8 hour stretch is fairly unfathomable…