A Gift of God
Last night, Nathaniel slept a sweet, blissful, and quiet 8 hours. That was only the third time in 7.5 months that he has slept that long. He has been my worst sleeper thus far, and I have been incredibly tired and sleep deprived. When I woke up to feed him and realized how long we had both been sleeping, you better believe I did some celebrating (quietly and sleepily of course, considering it was 3am).
Today, Nathaniel has been a beautiful disaster. I am sure it’s teeth or a growth spurt or one of the millions of things that make babies cranky and miserable. Today, it has crossed my mind several times what I have heard from many moms who have gone before me: “The third is the easiest, you are already feeding and caring for two others, so its hardly any extra work.” Maybe I am alone in this, but I don’t agree with that for one second.
Nathaniel has been my hardest baby, in the sense that he is a terrible sleeper and that I already have a 4 year old and a 2 year old to care for. The naps for mamma are few and far between, and in the early days it often felt like someone was always crying. However, Nathaniel’s name means “Gift of God,” and that has proven to be true over and over. For me, what is true of the third, is that my capacity to not stress and just enjoy my baby has grown immensely. You see, I now know that EVENTUALLY he will sleep; and that someday he won’t always smile so sweetly at me; and I know that not too far from now he will like to tell me “no,” and he will be too big to curl up in my lap, and he won’t be nursing, and he won’t be so dependent on me, and….should I keep going?
What I know is this baby thing FLIES by. Nathaniel has been such a gift! Even when I haven’t slept in 7 months and 14 days, I still find myself smiling at him in the middle of the night all snuggled up to me in the rocking chair. And when he does nothing but cry and wants to be held all day, I find myself happy to carry him all over, chatting and talking to him on the way. My ability to live in the moment and understand how quick the sweet chubby feet come and go is much greater. For me, the third baby has been an absolute Gift from God.
It’s true of so many things in life – the best things are often the hardest things. What brings us great joy often comes from great sacrifice and suffering. I am convinced that the reason babies aren’t perfect angels is because all the sleepless nights, and fussy days and hours we have labored, in some fashion, to bring them into the world, add up to a work that we care intensely about. We have poured ourselves into them and given our whole selves, and this is what bonds us to them and brings us an overflowing heart when they take their first steps or giggle with joy at our sight. Our work and our sacrifice to care for our babies knit us to them for life. What hard work or sacrifice are you being called to make right now? Are you avoiding it because it is too hard or too much work? Maybe if you can endure and persevere, you will find a great gift on the other side, one full of joy and happiness.
My third baby was by no means my easiest (have you all met my sweet Elliot?