Friday, January 29, 2016

4 Things to Keep in Mind When Your Little One Awakens at Night....Yet Again!

     Sometimes inspiration for a blog post will come to me while taking a shower, or nursing my baby, or reading a great book, or making dinner, or when getting ready for me day. But the inspiration behind this particular one came to me one morning last week at 2am. Yes, you read that correctly-2am! What on earth was I doing up at 2am? Well, nursing my baby and wondering why she was awake in the middle of the night for the third night in a row! 

     You see, from two months of age on, now 12 month old Anna has always been fantastic at sleeping through the night. Granted, she would have her nights sporadically here and there where she would awaken me and I would have to nurse her and put her back to bed. But by and large, we all began to enjoy a full night's rest in this house from the time she was about two months old.

     Then last week happened......

     Suddenly Anna was waking me up each and every night for three nights in a row! And not just waking me up by crying for a second on the monitor and then going back to sleep. No, we're talking a continuous, becoming-more-insistent, "Mama, you need to come get me!" type of cry. Each night! So, I would get out of bed, put on my robe, walk across the hall, get her out of bed, change her diaper if I thought it needed it, nurse her, put her back to bed and 40 minutes to an hour after having gotten up, I would finally go back across the hall, climb into my own bed again, and go back to sleep. 

     What was the deal? Why was my great sleeper suddenly waking me up each night? Didn't she know she was a good sleeper and understood the whole sleeping-through-the-night thing and needed to act like it? 

     I still don't fully know why she had those days last week (happy update-this week has been back to normal pretty much!). One of the nights she was indeed wet, but the other nights I don't fully know what the problem was. She may have been unexpectedly hungry, may have had a bad dream, may have been unable to get comfortable, or may have just needed Mommy time. But as I sat there in my rocking chair in her nursery that morning at 2am, I pondered on the implications of being up with my daughter. I pondered on how, at times before when she would wake me up in the middle of the night, I would grumble and complain, roll out of bed angrily, get frustrated that I was losing sleep when my child was so not a newborn anymore and not sick, etc. so should not be having trouble sleeping, and reluctantly go feed her and tend to her (and then lament to my husband later about what a selfish, horrible mother I was for that attitude! Ever been there? ;) ). 

     But yesterday morning was different. Because, in God's grace, four thoughts in particular suddenly went through my mind that hadn't fully stuck in the past during those nighttime feedings. Four lessons which encouraged me, which brought new and fresh and Biblical perspective, vision, and purpose to that moment, and which, I pray, will encourage you fellow Mamas who are right there with me in the trenches of those sleep-depriving middle-of-the-night feedings and baby-calming times. 

1. Remember Those Ladies Who Would Give Anything to be Awakened in the Middle of the Night by a Crying Little One, and Ponder On How Very Blessed You Are!

     I know, Mamas, how very hard it can be in the moment of sleep deprivation to remember this, but we would all do well to think on just how very blessed and privileged we are to have such a precious cause for middle-of-the-night or early-morning awakenings! I know ladies who have miscarried, I know ladies who want children right now and do not have them, I know ladies who were never able to have children. And as hard and as not-very-fun as the interrupting sounds filtering through the monitor can be to us sometimes, those ladies would give anything to be in our shoes. To have to get up with a sweet crying babe, to hold that baby close and nurse that precious little one or rock that sweet child back to sleep. So, before you get out of bed grumbling and frustrated and angry (as I have more than once, I'm sorry to say!), the next time you are awakened by that cry or have your "me-time" cut short by a suddenly now early morning riser or short nap taker, just take a second to imagine life without that little blessing. Imagine a quiet life full of long stretches of glorious sleep or uninterrupted time for yourself, but with no John or Emily or (you fill in the blank). It makes you extra thankful and helps you with your tendency to grumble, doesn't it? :) 

2. Those Times with Your Children are Moments and Memories You Wouldn't Have Otherwise!

     We all hear (and say!) how quickly little ones grow up, how you blink and your child has gone from newborn to infant, you blink again and the child is now a toddler, you blink again and your child is starting school, and so on. This truth naturally makes us a little (or a lot! ;) ) sad and sentimental. But think about this for a moment: in this fast-paced world where we go to bed with a newborn and wake up with an infant crawling around, those middle-of-the-night "interruptions" are extra moments you get with your child that you would never ordinarily have! They are memories which, if both of you had had the pleasure of a full night's rest, you never would have been able to make! As taxing on our bodies and spirits as those sleep-depriving moments can be to us, I think that sometimes they are a special little blessing sent to us specifically by God to touch the Mama's heart within us all. Because, ladies, He knows us! He made us to be nurturing, sentimental, and emotionally attached to our children. He knows it hurts our hearts to see our babies grow too quickly. And, so, I believe that sometimes He chooses to allow our sleep to be "interrupted" so that we might catch an extra little moment with our quickly-growing little ones in the current stage in which they are. Time will come when we all have empty nests and are able to catch up on any sleep we may have lost in these sometimes very difficult early years. But when that time comes, our sweet babies won't be babies anymore and we'll look back on today with fondness and longing for that precious time when our babes fit so perfectly into the crook of our arms or into the length of our laps and we snuggled close and drank deep of the scent of their hair as we calmed them back to sleep as only a Mama can. <3 

3. It Truly Won't be Like This for Long!

     There's a popular country song with this sentiment, and it is so true! As much as it felt sometimes like those newborn days of feedings every two to three hours around the clock would go on forever, I look back now and am shocked at how fast they flew by with Anna. Just when you feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel or no return to continuous sleep all night long, you leave the tunnel and are amazed at how short it was! So, no matter what your cause for being "interrupted" yet again-a colicky baby, a teething baby, a baby who just needs snuggles, a baby who just needed a short cat nap, or what have you, it won't be like that for long! Remember that, embrace the moment, and soak it all up as much as you possibly can. Because, again, you'll blink and gone will be the days of interrupted sleep.

4. Your Little One Wants (and Needs) You!

     I don't know about you, but there have been times when Anna has awakened me in the middle of the night and it has made me downright grumpy. A kind of grumpy that I really do not like about myself and that is just plain ugly, to be perfectly honest! I think I even remember desperate silent prayers of, "Dear Lord, I know You can, so please do, get that baby back to sleep!!!" But here is what the Lord spoke to my heart in the stillness of that early morning not long ago: "She just wants you." You see, our little ones are not waking us up at inopportune times because they're wanting to intentionally ruin our night, cut short our sleep, and be mean and selfish (though we act as if they are!). No, in times like those, if anything, it is I who am being the selfish one, not my daughter. She just wants her Mama. She just needs to know that, in spite of the darkness of the room or the stillness of the night, her Mama is still there, and she is never truly alone. Her Mama is just across the hall, available to come to her when she just can't get back to sleep or she's suddenly hungry or has had a bad dream. And so I, the grown-up, "self-sufficient" Mama needs to take a moment to consciously stoop down to my daughter's level, consider how she is feeling, what it would be like to be in her shoes in that moment, and just scoop her up and love on her. While she is still little. But for a moment longer....

In Conclusion

     I understand how you feel, Mama. I know what it is like to just want to be able to stay in the comforting warmth of your own cozy bed, rather than up tending to your crying baby.....yet again! But may I encourage you today, friend? This time is special. It's precious. And it's fleeting. All too soon, it will be gone. So, savor it, by God's grace and through His strength. Because, while you can always get your full night's rest back again, you can't get this sweet time back again. 

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