I walk the narrow strip between the crib and the rocker. Freddie is perched on my shoulder trying to catch his breath from the latest outburst. Every few moments he pushes against me, cries out in anger and repositions himself in my arms before collapsing in exhaustion.
I walk back and forth, back and forth singing and humming his favorite song...Baby Beluga. My back is screaming and my arms are sore, but Freddie doesn't like to rock if we're not nursing. And we are. Not. Nursing. Period.
I am at war with myself right now. This has been going on for over an hour.
The comforting female in me cries "He's so young and this is obviously wrong because he's fighting it so much!"
The logical woman in me screams "It's not like I'm weaning, he just needs to find another way to go to sleep. No more night nursing."
The selfish girl in me whines "Oh my, this is just like Ainsley. Hours and hours of torture to get a kid to sleep. This can't be happening again."
The tired mommy in me yawns "I just want to go to bed. Can he just sleep with me tonight and we'll try again tomorrow?"
Freddie has been silent for a few moments. I wonder if he's asleep but can't see his face. I make my way to the rocking chair and sit down slowly.
He fusses in protest but only for a moment.
I rock and sing. I rock and hum. I rock and stroke his hair. I rock and kiss his cheek. I rock and whisper "I love you, mommy's here." We rock and rock and rock. His eyes are closing but I can tell he's still alert. His body is still at attention.
His face screws up and he releases a husky moan. He is 24 pounds of rage and fury. Fists push against my chest. Toes scrape at my thighs. He cries and yells "Baba! Baba!" He wants to nurse and I want to give in.
I close my eyes and count to ten. At the end of this breather, I'm giving in. I don't care what anyone says. This is just too hard. It's so much easier to just nurse him.
When I open them, he is changed.
His face has become soft and his lips are slightly parted. His rigid body has succumbed and gone limp against me. His eyelashes flutter ever so slightly, tickling my collarbone. His feet and hands dangle and twitch now and then. His breathing is deep and smooth. No more hiccups, no more gasping, no more screaming for Muma. He is my perfect boy and all at once relief and sadness wash over me.
I didn't give in, tomorrow night should be easier, but my baby is growing up so fast.
I hold him for longer than I should. I smell his sweetness and watch the corners of his mouth twitch before placing him in his crib.
I walk out of the room thinking about how easy it would be to keep doing all the things that keep him small and young and dependent on me. Things that would keep him at my side always and keep my heart from breaking. Things that would keep these little moments at bay and unnoticed forever. But then, I wouldn't be his mother.