The first time my 15-month-old slept through the night without waking me up was bittersweet. I was happy she was gaining independence, but I was also sad to realize she started to need me less.

By Caroline Chirichella
January 29, 2020
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Courtesy of Caroline Chirichella

Last night I woke up to the sight of my 15-month-old daughter sleeping blissfully in her crib. This shouldn't be anything startling and yet, for me, it was. This was something new.

On most nights, my daughter would sleep an hour or two, only to wake up crying wanting to come into bed with my husband and me. But not tonight. Tonight she was independent. Sleeping beautifully—on her own.

While I was happy to see her sleeping so well, it made something clear to me: I realized how much I missed my daughter sleeping in bed with us, snuggled face to face with me.

What is also so painfully clear to me in those moments? How much my daughter needs me, of course. But also just how much I need her. And even more so, how much I need her to need me.

On those nights when she wakes up, stretching her little arms to me, with her eyes wide open looking directly into mine, she wants the comfort of her mommy. So I put her into bed with my husband and I. We move our pillows to the side to create a perfect nook for our little girl. I lay her down and she instantly turns to her side to snuggle her head right up against my pillow so that she and I are face to face.

I can hear her breathing. I can smell her sweet scent. Our noses touch. She clasps her hand into mine. And in those moments, she falls back to sleep immediately.

I need her soft, sweet whimpers. I need her hands to clutch mine. I need to feel the softness of her chubby cheeks. I need to see the joy she gets when taking her first steps. I need to see her smile and giggle. I need her just as much as she needs me.

It is an amazing feeling to be so needed by this tiny little human that I brought into this world. My daughter not only wants me to do everything for her, but she needs me to do everything for her. Her life is 100 percent in my hands. She depends on me to take care of her in every sense of the word. It is a feeling and love like no other.

I know there will come a time when she won't need me to give her a bottle. She won't need me to rub her nose. She won't need me to feed her. She won't need to come into bed to snuggle with me. More than anything, when she won't need me in those moments is exactly when I will need her the most.

I can only hope that her need for me will continue throughout our years together. I will always be there for her in any way that I possibly can. If she needs to talk or a shoulder to cry on, her mother will always be available. Just as my mother and I have remained close my entire life, I hope my daughter and I will too. Whether she is a baby, a teen, or a full-grown adult, I hope that she will always need me in one way or another. Because as her mother, I will always need her.

So, when she drifts to sleep with her small hand nestled in mine, I will keep holding on as long as I can.

Editor's Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics does not encourage bed-sharing during infancy.

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