From the moment I had my daughter it was love at first sight. The bond we shared was beyond what I would have ever expected. I was a fortunate Mama because my baby took to breastfeeding like a champ and did so wonderfully for her first year. After that first year, we slowly transitioned to bottles and sippy cups. This transition was harder on me I think, then it was for my daughter as it meant letting go of that breast feeding bond that we shared. That time with her is something I will forever cherish.
With the end of breast feeding, also came the end of co-sleeping. Below is a picture of my daughter and I co-sleeping with the cat of course!
My co-sleeping relationship with my daughter was a love-hate relationship. I loved it because when my daughter would wake up in the night she would easily be able to find my breast and/or soothe herself back to dreams. There was a lot of snuggling going on and what parent doesn’t like those extra snuggles? I hated it on the other hand because I like to sleep sprawl. My body basically needs and desires the entire space of the bed. When sleeping with a baby I did not get quality sleep. I literally laugh every time I see this Baby Sleep Positions as this is how it was every night for my husband and I co sleeping with our daughter. I am sure those of you who co sleep can relate and will get a kick out of this too. Then, as parents, we let go a little more and decided it was time for her to get used to sleeping in her own room in her own crib.
This was a whole new ball game for us as parents and one that was presented with much difficulty. We tried everything from the Cry It Out Method to noise machines. Once she fell asleep, she would wake up multiple times in the night which either resulted in me sitting or standing by her crib trying to soothe her back to sleep or bringing her back to our bed for short periods and when she fell back to sleep, we would put her back in her crib. It was an exhausting time in our lives as parents. Eventually, we established a pretty good bedtime routine with her where we would read her a few stories and rock her to sleep before placing her into the crib. Again, it was another great bonding time for me and my daughter and it seemed to do the trick. She began sleeping through the night, with the occasional need for her mom and dad to come in to soothe her back to sleep. We had no choice but to let go some more.
At 18 months, Etta was bound and determined that the crib was less then desirable as our bedtime routine and sleeping through the night came to a quick end. We just could not figure out if it was a growth spurt, or what. It clicked the day I had laid her down for nap while she was still awake in her crib. I listened on the monitor to her coo and babble to herself. Then the crying started and then it got quiet. I decided to wait it out a bit before peeking in on her, except when I turned around there was my daughter. I was in shock and remember thinking to myself did a ghost carry you out of your crib and into the kitchen? Obviously not. What the heck? My baby girl had climbed out of her crib, thankfully gracefully and without any bumps or bruises. It was this day I told my husband I thought I knew what we needed to do and that was go and pick out a big girl bed for our baby girl. My husband was hesitant at first as she was only 18 months and our baby. With reluctance on both accounts, we ventured out to our local WG&R and picked out a big girl bed. We were letting go yet again.
This picture is our daughter in her crib-doing everything but sleeping!
Once the big girl bed was bought and we got it set up in her
nursery big girl room, it was pretty evident we needed a new bed time routine to go with it. Our daughter was more then willing to try out her big girl bed and was over the moon excited about it! So, we started by reading her bedtime stories to her in her bed then we would lay with her until she fell asleep. Unfortunately, she has never been a child who can fall asleep on her own. However, I never have minded because again, I love that time with her. Low and behold she slept though the night that first night in her big girl bed. Most nights after this, she slept through the night. The picture below is of her at 2 years old taking a nap in her bed with her best fur pal! This big girl bed was the answer to our prayers. We still have the occasional nights where she is up in the middle of the night but quickly falls asleep once woken up. And again, we let go a little more.
At now 2.5, my daughter still has a bedtime routine, but here’s where the dagger in my heart comes in. My baby is a big girl. She is old enough to formulate some of her own ideas & choices now. As of lately, her bedtime routine does not include me. I still do the usual bed time story (when she lets me) but as soon as those stories are over she wants me gone. Her exact words to me usually are “Go Away Mommy, get out of my room. Only Daddy.” She physically will hit me in my face if I try to stay or cuddle her at bedtime (any other part of the day I am allowed) Ouch, right?! I can’t tell you how hard this part of letting go has been for me. My husband keeps telling me to not get sad or let it get me down and that it is just a phase. However, this mama is not ready for it. I know to some degree my daughter will always need me and want me around. I know this because living 4 hours from my own parents and not being able to see them has made me really miss them and wish they were here daily to be apart of our lives. But when you hear your 2.5 year old really not want you it just hurts.
I think part of why it hurts so much is because these last 2.5 years have just gone by in the blink of an eye. My mom always told me that time flies when you have kids and she was and is completely right. Never in my life, has time seemed to just whiz on by me. When I think of not only myself needing to let go, I also know that my daughter is starting to let go. She isn’t a baby, she is turning into a little girl right before my eyes and with that comes change. Change is always hard for me. With this also comes the realization that I no longer have a baby and I may never again get the chance to have one. It breaks my heart into a million little pieces over and over and over again. However, I am so grateful each and everyday I have had this amazing experience and a bond so strong with my baby. I realize that with each passing milestone and year it requires a little more letting go. However, no matter what, she’ll always be my baby. That is something that I never have to let go of.