I sat on the uncomfortable rocking chair around 3 in the morning after the rough night. My son arched his back as if he couldn’t get comfortable. His head lifted away from my chest. Occasionally it would bounce back, and the cool tears on his face would wet my skin. After just a minute or two, the gas slipped up out of his stomach and his neck slowly relaxed as he rested his weary head on my chest. It got heavier and heavier and so did his eyelids.
After 4 hours of trying to help him, he finally succumbed to sleep, trapping me with 24 lbs of squishy baby weight. And in spite of my exhaustion, I sat unmoving and just held him. My cheek pressed against his fuzzy warm head. His breathing, remnants of sobs abandoned. My precious boy nuzzled against me. It was my reward for my toil, so I enjoyed every special second. Thirty minutes of quiet snuggles on a squeaky, unyielding rocker. I watched the shadows and breathed deeply. There aren’t many moments like this. It was just me and my boy.
At 3:30 in the morning I finally slipped between my sheets and my eyelids slammed shut.
My Rough Night
The Likely Cause
That day, we had gone to his six month appointment. We found out he was off the charts for weight and pretty big in all other growth aspects. And to top it off, he has got a giant head that comes from my side of the family. If you ever wonder why some hats are so big, it’s for people like me and my son.
He got two shots. I didn’t think anything of it. With his first couple of rounds he had been fussy, but nothing I couldn’t handle. My daughter had never had many ill effects from the shots.
I put him to bed around 7 just like any other night. He fussed a little more before he fell asleep, but soon he was breathing out Zs.
I just had to…
As a matter of safety, I usually take the sound machine out of his room at night after the loud noises in the house have disappeared. He has a bad habit of putting a blanket on top of his face and if I’m asleep and he’s having a hard time breathing, I want to be able to hear immediately.
My daughter was in bed, my company had left and I was about to sleep as well. So, like every night, I snuck into his room and took it out. Usually he moves and then goes right back to sleep.
On this particular rough night, he moved and then woke up.
All right, this wouldn’t be a problem. I’d just give him a bottle, top him off for the night and that way I made sure we all got a good night sleep.
He drank about half of it and I thought that he probably wasn’t hungry because he’s been sleeping through the night for a couple of days now.
The 4 Hours
The rest of the four hours that made up my rough night are a little hazy. It all blurs together now. I know that some things happened during that time. Here is a list of all courses of action in no particular order:
- Gave him Tylenol.
- Rocked him.
- Held him.
- Sang “I am a child of God”
- Left his room about 15 times.
- Entered his room about 15 times.
- Sang “I like to look for Rainbows”
- Sat on the floor by his crib and held his hand while he tried to settle down.
- Let him play with my face.
- Sat on the couch and the living room while he looked at the lights.
- Let him lay in mommy’s bed. (Austin was out of town.)
- Burped him. And again and again and again. So many burps.
- So much spit up.
- Bottle attempts 1, 2 and 3.
- Wrapped him in a semi-swaddle
- Reached under the bed for all of the pacifiers he had chucked by the wall.
- Wiped his tears.
- Gave him Ibuprofen.
- Caressed his head.
- Tried to let him ‘cry it out’. (I can only last about 15 minutes at the most.)
- Bounced him.
- Sang “Down in the River” over and over and over again.
- Prayed for any possible relief about every 10 minutes.
There might be more. I don’t know. It was a rough night.
The Unexpected Reward
I know I am not alone in the ‘rough night’ department. Most parents get to experience this joy at some point or another. Most of the time, you are only rewarded with an hour or two of much needed sleep.
But sometimes, the world stands still and all is quiet as your little one finally falls asleep in your arms. The whimpers subside and you get a small glimpse at how much your baby must love you. His face is pressed against you, cheek smashed against your skin. The deeper he falls into sleep, the more his breathing levels out.
Only you could heal his whole soul. Not only have you labored to help his little body feel better, but you also kept his spirit full. He knows that you are there for him and that you love him and have taken the time to understand him.
You heal his whole soul regardless of whether or not he falls asleep on you. But if you are lucky enough to feel your trusting little one nuzzle in, you can take the time to pat yourself on the back. Because you did it. Even if it took you until 3 or 6 in the morning, you did it. You healed your baby’s soul.
More Rough Nights to Come
So I hope I can remember when I have another rough night and many more, that every time I choose their needs over mine I heal their soul. I heal their physical hurts and I show them for the rest of their life, that they are worth me climbing out of my bed.
And in the quiet moments when I have evidence in my arms of how much my children appreciate it, I hope I can remember that I am doing okay. I healed my baby’s soul and I think I healed mine too.
I’ve had many a rough night with my toddler too.