This is something I started doing back when Gibs and I were co-sleeping and night nursing. He’d wake with a wet diaper or just hungry and I’d finagle him into a position for latching on. Often this position would be difficult for me. Side sleeping without supporting pillows is actually painful after a bit.
Gibs would settle down and nurse. Usually he’d fall asleep still latched on. Sometimes we’d fall asleep together like this, but more often than not, I was counting down the seconds until I thought it was safe for me to roll away from him and readjust my back.
And here’s the trap. Break the suction too soon, while Gibs is still only lightly sleeping, and he wakes up. So after I thought he might be asleep, I would start a countdown. In my mind, I would chant, “One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three Mississippi….” I would always count to 60 Mississippi. But if he stirred before I reached the minute mark, I would wait until he calmed again and restart the chant.
In all the hormone mess of being a new mother, this made me feel guilty. Why didn’t I want to cherish every second that Gibson was nursing? Why couldn’t I put off my own discomfort and just look down into that sleeping face, eyelashes fanned over cherub cheeks, and savor the experience?
So when we put him into his own room at six months old, I thought maybe the countdown would end. But of course not, because we were still night nursing. Only now I was upright in a chair in his room waiting for him to fall back asleep before I could go back to my room, kick The Man out of my spot and attempt to go back to sleep myself. The countdowns were even more needed. Not only did I now have to nurse him, but I also had to get him back into his crib without waking him. I’ve counted to 60 Mississippi so many times in the last eight months.
Then we weaned. Again, there was guilt. Maybe if we’d kept co-sleeping he wouldn’t have weaned before a year. But that’s in the past. I’m trying not to beat myself up over it.
Anyway, now when Gibs wakes up hungry in the night, I give him a bottle while still in his crib. While he eats, I change him. Often he’s fallen asleep again before I’ve finished re-snapping up his sleeper. But recently, he’s been teething. Like a lot. And we think he might be going through another growth spurt because he’s eating a lot more, both formula and solids. Could be he’s about to have a developmental leap. Who knows.
What I’m getting at is, the countdown has returned. Twice this week, I’ve had to pick an inconsolable but sleepy Gibson up our of his crib in the wee hours of the morning and just hold him. Even though we’re not nursing anymore, he still wants to be near me. And twice this week, he’s taken naps on my chest in the middle of the day. I worried that our connection would lessen because of the end of breastfeeding, but now I think it’s not true. He still needs me. Just not for nourishment.
In the night light’s dim shadows, I watch his face relax and his breathing even out as his body gets heavier against mine. And I count. One Mississippi, two Mississippi…
“Time, time ticking, ticking, ticking away.”