So, it's late at night - actually way early in the morning - and I should have been asleep a long time ago. But instead, I brought my laptop to bed to finish up the page I was scrapping, and (as usual) got caught up with other things. In the middle of those other things, I heard Milly whimpering through the baby monitor. Now, some nights she goes to bed in her room and I don't see her till morning. Most nights, though, she still wakes up and wants to come to bed with me. No problem, I welcome the snuggle time - I just wish she'd come on in here on her own instead of waiting me to come to her and bring her in. But I digress.
I went and picked her up and hauled her into the bed with me, and told her that I wasn't going to sleep yet, but she could sleep here and I'd stay right here with her. As crazily demanding as she's been lately, I nearly expected this to end in a tantrum, but was pleasantly surprised when she laid down and went to sleep instead.
And then she started moving. Squirming. Twisting. Turning. Flopping. Kicking. She normally isn't quite so wiggly - if I'm lying next to her, she cuddles up and lies perfectly still. But given a wider reign, she's going to take up as much bed as she can manage.
Right now, she's lying sideways, her head near the edge of the bed, just beneath the pillow. Blankets have been kicked off. Arms outstretched. And one little foot, encased in fuzzy white princess-print footie pajamas, is propped firmly on my thigh.
When Rachael was a baby - from the time she was about six months old until she moved out of my bed and into her own at eighteen months - I had to stay in bed with her at night. She'd nurse to sleep and then, if I moved very carefully so as not to disturb her, I could sit up and use my laptop. If I left the room...I'm not sure how she knew, but she knew. There were some nights that I resented this arrangement very much. There are few people that I admitted it to - most would have proclaimed it yet another reason never to co-sleep with your baby. (I dare say most of them never tried it!)
But for all the nights that I was irritated about being confined, as it were, to the bed with my baby...there were ten more that I sat and watched her sleep, her little features just visible in the light from the computer screen. I memorized every detail of her cherubic little face, traced her pudgy cheeks with my fingertips, vowing to never, never forget a single thing, no matter how quickly she grew and changed. I marveled at the fact that, as much as she'd changed already, she still looked so much like she did when she was brand new, while she was sleeping.
She also tossed and turned a bit, propped her feet on me, stretched out as much as she could. She smiled in her sleep a lot, and I loved that. And I blogged about those sweet nocturnal smiles back then as well.
Now she's six years old and hasn't crawled into my bed in the middle of the night in about two years - since her sister was tiny, I suppose. I remember lying sandwiched between my girls, baby snuggled against my chest and big sister curled against my back. And one night, she just stopped...which is as it should be, I suppose, as I always knew it would be.
I have the feeling that it won't be long until the nighttime visits from Milly cease as well. After all, she has a big sister in the same room that she could just as easily crawl into bed with, when she wakes up at night at all. So during the rare instances when she joins me in bed while I'm still awake, I'll sit here a little longer than necessary, a little longer than I should, with the computer still on, the only light in the room.
And I'll watch her sleep.
I'll memorize every detail of her cherubic little face.
Trace her pudgy cheeks with a fingertip.
And vow to never, never forget this.