Something has happened in our family, a transition. It happened quietly, smoothly, seamlessly, comfortably. My baby goes to bed without me. In fact, she is now a toddler (but of course she is still my baby). It began about a week ago, I fed her until I thought she was asleep and put her in her cot, but she wasn't fully asleep and rather than getting upset and imploring me to carry her back to my lap and my breast she simply lay on her front, whimpered a little and dropped off to sleep. Each night since then we have simply carried her up to bed when she has shown signs of tiredness and popped her in her cot. She kneels down and then, with her bum in the air like this, she falls asleep:
For the last two nights her daddy has put her to bed as I've been at work. I'm really happy for him, and I'm thrilled that she can soothe herself to sleep. And a little part of me is sad that our bedtime-feeding routine is no longer. This is ironic because for months I bemoaned the fact that she needed to nurse to sleep and was fretting about how to get her to go to sleep by herself. Isn't it amazing that I didn't have to do anything? I didn't 'get' her to sleep, she did it all by herself. And I certainly didn't have to train her or condition her behaviour in any way.
My baby needs me still, of course, but she needs me in different ways. She still wants me to carry her, but she also wants me to hold her hand as she walks. She wants to breastfeed but she also wants bread and cream cheese. She wants her mummy, but she also lights up when her daddy comes home from work. I can't cling to her baby-ness, I have to let her grow and explore, but of course I still have to nurture and protect her, she is still so small and so new, and the world is so big.