Monster has been sleeping independently for more than a year now. Aside from a few bouts with sickness, he sleeps through the night in his own bed in his own room.
While this does mean better rest for all of us, I have found lately that when I go to sleep, my arms ache, wanting so badly to be holding a baby.
I remember that ache. It’s the same ache I had before I got pregnant with Monster. It’s that biological longing you have that you can physically feel in your bones, as though event the tiniest atoms and molecules in your very being are begging you to have a baby.
I will lie in bed some nights and remember how beautiful it was to hold a baby while we both slept. I would wake when he woke and then watch his sweet little face drift back to sleep.
And then I would just stare at him. I would pour over his chubby baby cheeks, his sweet little mouth, his furrowed brow. Those moments are the ones I picture whenever I am missing Monster.
One night recently, at around 1 in the morning, I heard a frantic cry coming from Monster’s room. It’s a cry any mother would know was signaling something was wrong.
I ran down the hall and picked up a sweaty, confused toddler. Monster had just been diagnosed with impetigo, a harmless yet disgusting skin infection that was taking over his face. He was on antibiotics, and the poor thing never sleeps well if he is taking those.
Being exhausted myself, I brought him back to our room. To my surprise, he crawled into the pillows and fell asleep.
But I didn’t.
All I could do was stare at my beautiful, rash-ridden baby, who had grown up so much since the last time he had been in that place.
His feet now kicked my knees instead of my belly. What was once a smooth, bald head is now a mess of blonde curls.
As a baby, he would wrap his hand around my finger when he got sleepy. That night, as he snuggled into me, eyes drooping, he asked, “Hand?” and put his tiny hand in mine.
Even as I marveled at all the changes, I couldn’t believe how much had stayed the same.
Sure, my teeny baby is now a stomping, romping Monster.
But his round face is still as cute as can be – even with the impetigo. His mouth still purses a little as he sleeps, like he was going to kiss you but got lost on the way to your lips.
And though he has nearly doubled in length, he still somehow fits perfectly beside me.
Some parents moan and groan at co-sleeping. I cherish it.
I miss 50 hours a week of Monster time. I will gladly get punched in the face, kicked in the crotch and woken up hours early if it means I get to hold my little boy a few more hours.