I am a rule follower by nature. Actually, not just a rule follower, but a recommendation follower as well. So, as soon as I found out I was pregnant with our oldest child, I started researching. I made sure I had plenty of swaddles to avoid loose covers. I set up a bassinet in our room so that we could room-share for the first few months. I watched videos on how to properly install the car seat. And I made a mental list of other dos and don’ts. But, when I got to the recommendations about laying babies down “drowsy but awake” so that they could learn to self-soothe, I paused. I had always envisioned rocking my children to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby
Now, if you follow the expert advice and your little ones fall asleep independently in their bed, that is fantastic! And sometimes I envy you! But, when push came to shove, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to give up that extra snuggle time. And you know what? I’m not sorry. And, if you are like me, you shouldn’t be sorry either.
When our son was born, I remember never wanting to lay him down, day or night. I did, for the sake of sanity, but I just loved holding him and watching his eyelids flutter open and shut as he drifted off to sleep. And I loved watching him sleep for just a few moments before I put him in his bed. It was the most peaceful thing I had ever seen. As he got older and became mobile, that time of rocking and holding and snuggling became even more precious because he was not one to sit still during the day. Naptime and bedtime were my only opportunities to snuggle and I wasn’t giving that up without a fight!
And babies don’t keep
This all posed a slight challenge when our son was promoted to a big boy bed. I no longer rocked him to sleep but began to lie down beside him until he fell asleep. Is this always convenient? No! But, these moments at bedtime have provided me with our sweetest and most hilarious conversations. For instance, if he went to bed on his own, I would have missed his final words of, “You can make bacon if you want to” as he fell asleep one night. I also would have missed him rolling over and kissing me on the tip of my nose after an intense battle just to get him in the bed. As he falls asleep each night, I have the chance to tell him all the things I love about him, pray with him, sing with him, and answer his questions about life.
Rocking our baby girl has also been a priority for me but driven by completely different circumstances. I don’t get to snuggle her as much during the day because I am chasing her brother (or pulling him off the coffee table or banning him from the pantry). I cherish rocking her at nap time and bedtime because it is our only snuggle time and I know how quickly she will grow.
Yes, Sweetie, we can rock.
One night, my husband had a work obligation during bed time, and we were in total meltdown mode! My son was wailing because he wanted me to put him to bed first. He did not understand that his sister could not take care of herself for me to do so. So, after much crying and gnashing of teeth, I told him to crawl up in the glider with us and rock her to sleep.
He was so precious! He sat beside us and quietly rocked. When she wouldn’t take her bottle, he prayed, “Dear Jesus, Please help Abby drink her bottle.” Moments later she had drunk her fill and was sound asleep. I laid her in her crib and put Jason in my lap and rocked him. I had not rocked him in nearly a year, and my mama heart broke over how quickly the time had gone by. When we moved to his bed he looked me in the eyes and asked, “Mommy, can you rock me every night?”
I knew then and there that his heart needed our snuggle time as much as mine did. So, I will continue to rock my babies. Even if it means I am not “baby wise”.