Tonight, I had the distinct pleasure of rocking my baby to sleep.  Now, I know that may not sound like a big deal to you, or even other parents.  Many children co-sleep or have trouble going to sleep on their own, but neither of my children fall into those groups.  After they were 4 to 5 months old, they were moved from the bedside bassinet to a crib in their own rooms.  Both boys didn’t like to be fiddled with when they were trying to sleep and made it very clear from day one.  Occasionally, Mega would sleep on DH’s chest, but never overnight or even for more than an hour or two.  Bear would sleep next to us sometimes, and never after he was 6-7 months old.

          I put Bear to bed like usual – changed his diaper, gave him his milk and The Bink, read a story (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), and tucked him in.  I kissed his forehead, told him I loved him, and that I would see him in the morning.  I walked out with Mega, and turned out the light, shutting the door behind me.  I tucked Mega in, duplicating the routine and hopped in the shower. 

          When I was out and dressed, Bear started to cry like something was wrong.  I went in, and he was just sitting there.  Checked the diaper – still clean and dry.  He had The Bink in his hand.  He wasn’t cold.  I picked him up from the changing table and he just went limp…  Not in a scary OHMYGODWHATSWRONG sort of way, but just a relieved, comfortable sort of way.  He nestled his face close to my neck and wrapped one chubby little arm around my neck and the other was limp against my side.  I could feel his little puffs of air as he exhaled…  I couldn’t resist – I nestled my face close to his forehead and inhaled deeply…  He is starting to lose his baby scent, but just for tonight, it was like he was a few days old and he smelled like new baby, and not a graham-cracker-caked toddler.  I smiled a bit and he must have felt the small sigh that accompanied it because he leaned back and looked at me in the dimly lit room.  He put a chubby hand on each cheek and giggled behind The Bink.  Then he went limp against my chest again…  We rocked…  When Bear was a teeny babe, he would open and close his hands as he fell asleep.  If he was having trouble falling asleep, I would give him a finger or two to hold on to and that was usually all the contact he would tolerate as he tried to get to sleep.  As we rocked tonight, I felt his little hands open…  close…  open… close…  He patted my arm a few times as I patted his back and oh…  Those baby sighs…  I knew he was asleep when his breathing slowed down and the opening and closing of his hands ceased.

          Though my legs were aching from the 20+ minutes of rocking in place, I couldn’t put him down…  Not yet…  I stood there, snuggling my baby and taking in his baby smell…  I tousled his bouncy baby boy curls and concentrated on the almost imperceptible whump*whump*whump of his heart against my chest…  It made me remember the first time they found an irregular heartbeat, just like Mega’s, when I was still pregnant with him.  It flooded me with gratitude that my baby made it to this day.  As I look around, I see others who have lost children and while my heart breaks for them, I know I have only a glimpse of their pain, and it makes me cherish these little moments and that tiny whump*whump*whump even more.  It makes it painfully obvious that I need to make time for more heart-stopping moments with my children.

          That half hour with my Bear was probably the sweetest lullabye I have ever known.  I almost wish he would remember it, but it almost makes it more special because he won’t.  It’s a little secret I will never forget and though I can tell people, only I will understand.  I love you, boys.  I know it’s rough sometimes, but I will always love you, even when you think I am a completely unfair tyrant.  I will always love you.  Good night, sweet babies.