in the dim light of dawn

March 3, 2010 at 8:15 pm 4 comments

I’m a little too sleepy to figure out what the right phrase is for our nights lately. Can’t win for losing? Caught between a rock and a hard place? Whatever the phrase is, this is what our nights have been looking like: Echo, not having gotten enough sleep the night before, nurses to sleep in a matter of minutes (three or four), then as the night continues, if there is any surfacing on her part, whether it is an intense dream, or the covers slide off, or she hears a sound somewhere in the house, she calls out and I come in to nurse her back to sleep. Then later, when I climb into bed she cuddles up to nurse again. Then again every two hours or so after that. Finally, after the umpteenth nursing session, I say: Baby, I need to take a break. We just finished nursing both sides and I don’t want to nurse for a little while. Let’s just snuggle and fall back to sleep together. She screams, then nestles in, then falls asleep, then wakes herself up, then asks to nurse, then gets upset at my refusal, then nestles in, then falls asleep, then wakes herself up, then finally is fully awake. If it’s still the middle of the night I finally nurse her again, so desperate to get a little sleep, even if it is the half sleep of nursing. If it starts to turn light during the fall asleep/wake up pattern, Echo just stays awake and we get up with the dawn.

To sum up, she wants to nurse all night. If I nurse her all night I don’t sleep, if I dissuade her from nursing she doesn’t sleep, which of course means that I don’t sleep. This also means that Echo will be crabby throughout the day requiring lots of holding by me and… you guessed it, lots of nursing.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been in this place. My feelings about nursing, especially at night, seem to cycle in relation to her cycling interest. When she wants to nurse more than I think is necessary or appropriate, my feelings about not wanting to nurse become more intense. It’s nothing new. I wrote about it here. After receiving lots of empathy and new perspectives from this dear online community, my feelings settled a lot. I wrote about that here. But enough time has passed, I guess, for me to forget about my renewed faith.

Or maybe I’m just too tired to remember.

Logically I know I am not the judge of what is necessary for Echo, obviously she has a strong and counter opinion to mine. And I also know there is nothing inappropriate about nursing, no matter how much it ends up being. But in the middle of the night, how many times Echo nurses seems to matter to me. I start to think along the lines of: This isn’t fair! And we all know that this kind of thinking, with regard to parenting, is a dead-end. Parenting is nowhere near fair. It isn’t supposed to be fair. To even start down this path is to invite torture.

And when we got up this morning, that was how I was feeling, tortured.

And that’s how I was going to end this post. Tortured.

But then I had some tea. I wiped the sleep from my eyes. I felt my perspective move beyond the edges of our bed. I looked over at Echo watching a book on DVD and realized she isn’t mad. She could very well hold the perspective that I am keeping her up by trying to alter the way we do the whole sleeping thing. But she isn’t. She’s far better at honoring her emotions as they come up and then watching them float on by when they are done than I am. She isn’t replaying the night, attempting to justify her responses or her behavior today. She’s waiting for the next moment, ready to live that fully as well.

I can see now that there is no victim here. Just two people finding their way. (Well three when you count Papa, roused every few minutes by our middle of the night bickering.)

Then, searching for an image for this post I saw so many women. So many beautiful women nursing their babies. Big women, little babies, older women, large not-really-babies-anymore babies, all of them holding one another lovingly. Each nursing moment was captured with a tender eye.

I realized I could see Echo and I this way if I wanted to. If I saw each nursing session as a single graceful painting, instead of as the seventh session in a long line of too many sessions, or as something that keeps me from getting sleep, I would feel differently. If, each time we nursed, I was able to erase the thoughts about everything that came before, keep my mind from jumping to the moments ahead, and just be a single moment like those captured in the paintings, there might not be a conflict.

No conflict, just two people finding their way.

Just another mother holding another baby in the dim light of dawn. Like all the other mamas all over the world, all through time. And whether or not I am able to let my anger slip away as quickly as Echo does, or see every nursing moment through the eyes of an artist, just feeling a part of this legacy is a comforting thought.


Entry filed under: Nursing. Tags: , , , .

pee, poop, and the strength to wait it out you don’t have to wait

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Romy  |  March 3, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Aw nice nursing pictures. Nice blog, nice sentiments. I’ll be joining you again in nursing camaraderie and solidarity in a couple weeks. Keep it up. 🙂

  • 2. Lorien  |  March 3, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your thought processes as you do what seems so very hard, and kind to me. As I read through your old posts, I keep trying to understand how you respond with empathy to a preverbal child. I have toddler who reacts with such strong, quick emotions, and he just doesn’t understand my processing. Got to go, awake and needs the boob.

  • 3. gray  |  March 4, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Just a thought… continued sleep deprivation causes so much stress on the body and mind. I totally respect your parenting style, but I also believe the “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” mode of mothering is just a way to avoid making hard choices. Continual nighttime nursing seems to be doing you harm. You said the other day you thought changing your parenting style was only valid if your child was severely hurting someone else. Sleep deprivation can severely hurt someone else? How well do you drive a car on days after such nights? Who would you blame if you fell asleep at the wheel and hurt someone due to slow reaction times? You have a duty to take care of yourself physically and emotionally for the sake of your family. Sleep deprivation is not something to take lightly. Only you can truly evaluate how much the sleep deprivation is impairing your ability to function.

  • 4. kris laroche  |  March 4, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    your thoughts, your sentiment, these pictures, all bring tender tears to my eyes. i am holding you close, loving you and echo, what you do and who you are.
    thank you for the light you are in our world.


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