It's 3 o'clock in the morning when I hear my 4-month-old's bed creaking. I grope for my glasses and head down the hall to the nursery. I am tired and somewhat irritated; it has only been four hours since he went to sleep.
Bleary-eyed, I look down into his crib. He bursts into a grin, his tiny body twitching with excitement. Scooping him up, I inhale the sweet perfume of his skin and kiss his round little cheek. He grabs my hair and tries to latch onto my chin, covering the lower part of my face with wet baby kisses.
His diaper and pajamas are damp, so I place him on the changing table and begin to undress him. He looks at me with those deep blue eyes, his face erupting into a smile. He tells me "ooh-goooo," and I feel my irritations beginning to melt away.
We settle into the rocking chair to nurse. He clings to me and stares, working to establish a sucking rhythm. Illuminated by the night light, the hair on his small head seems to glow. I stroke his fuzzy head and return his stare. He gives me a toothless grin so wide I can see his tongue working back and forth in an attempt to nurse while he beams at me.
I whisper, "I love you, Baby," causing him to grin even bigger. His small body seems to melt into the cradle of my arms as he returns to nursing.
His sucking becomes more mechanical, and his eyes close. Tenderly, I return him to his crib and shuffle down the hall to check the room where my older children are sleeping. I find the 5-year-old tightly bundled in her Barney sheets, just the top of her head showing. A Barbie doll lies beside her, keeping silent watch.1