Bath & Bed Time

We routinely set the mood each night around seven or eight. The soft pink glow of the night-light orb casts gentle shadows on the wooden ceiling and walls. The piano lullaby music is set at medium volume, and her soft blue blanket with the fleece on one side and velvet on the other is waiting at the head of the bed to be softly draped over her.
She is so small and marsupial-like against my stomach when she suckles before sleep. It is a vivid reminder that not too long ago she was curled up inside me. At times these bedtime moments make me feel like we are one body again. She starts off eating intently and very seriously. After awhile though she starts to lose her concentration and the milk starts dribbling out the corners of her mouth as she smiles up at me.
“It’s nigh-nigh time Lili” I whisper to her. She doesn’t look the least bit tired. She stretches out her pudgy arm and spreads her fingers out. Even though I am supposed to be promoting sleep I can’t help but kiss a few of her fingertips that have landed on my cheek. Kiss, Kiss, Kiss…..Kiss… She is amused by this and expectantly holds her fingers spread out as if reaching for something.
“It’s nigh-nigh time Lili” I remind us both. I decide to feign sleep myself- see if that helps. I close my eyes and exhale deeply a few times. Stillness. I wait a moment more. I half open one eye. Her hand is still outstretched in the same position, her eyes intently on me in the dim light. She lowers her hand and it makes contact with my face. She starts swiping around. Her pinky goes up my left nostril; another finger reaches inside my mouth. She manages to hook my lower lip and pull it out with her other finger still up my nose. I continue to play dead. She lets go of my lip and it makes a light thwaping noise as it hits my gums. She does it again. And again. And again. I open my eyes and tilt my head away trying to look serious. I take her hand and try to pin it to her belly. She gives me a big gummy smile as if to say ahh hah! I knew you weren’t really asleep.
I decide to try to nurse her again. I contort in an unnatural sort of way to give her my other breast, and she takes to it with renewed pleasure. After a bit I sense her giving up to sleep. I hold myself steady even though my neck and back are getting crinks by the second. I am looking for the signs of true asleep-ness: Lips parting, fingers slackening, an absence of jerky movements. All signs point to yes! I test it by starting to ease myself away from our entanglement in slow motion. I become acutely aware that we are not one body as I pull away each body part of mine that touches hers. Unless I am sure that she is completely sacked out I need a lot of gracefulness to execute the departure successfully.
Once I am free and hovering above her I can’t help but lean back in to fuss with the blanket or to give her one last kiss on her sweaty forehead. The last act is me sneaking away like Elmer Fudd when he is creeping along trying to hunt Bugs Bunny. It is an exaggerated sort of tip toe. I do this as I tread softly downstairs (skipping the top step that creaks). As I rejoin Alex, blinking in the brighter light I flop down on the couch and say a quick prayer that tonight is one of the nights that the bedtime production worked so well that I only have to do it once.

As a post note: Alex and I have ordered some sleep-tip books that have come highly recommended, so perhaps next month I will have a different bedtime routine. We shall see…

1 comment:

Daisie said...

Your bedtime routine sounds fabulous and just like bedtimes here. All three of my babies were breastfed until they decided they wanted no more (Elizabeth had turned 2 years old, Francesca was 15 months and Nathaniel at only 9 months old has a way to go yet)and shared our bed until then. The transition to their own beds and a full nights sleep was accomplished within a week of coming off the breast. Enjoy the closeness you share and don't push things, it'll all come right by itself and she's still so small. I miss bedtimes like that no my girls are big. Enjoy every second!! X