Christmas 2012. A best friend’s wedding a few weeks after the (rather early) arrival of my first baby, Hector.
I was still only getting a couple of hours sleep at a time and I definitely hadn’t mastered anything to do with motherhood, yet nothing was going to stop me being there for the celebrations.
My mum and I spent ages trying to settle Hector to sleep in his pram before the reception but he wasn’t having any of it. So in the end I gave up and carried him into the party, where he proceeded to sleep soundly in my arms throughout.
I’d been a bit nervous beforehand as it was the first socialising I’d done in months and I had visions of Hector screaming throughout. But I enjoyed it all so much, with this tiny, warm little creature snoring against my chest.
My shoulders dropped, any worries about sleep deprivation and breastfeeding disappeared out the window, and I wondered if maybe I could cope with this whole motherhood thing after all.
It’s one of my favourite memories of early motherhood, which isn’t surprising, as according to recent research commissioned by WaterWipes, ‘when baby fell asleep on me’ is one of the best moments parents experience with their baby.
I’ll never forget the first time Hector fell asleep in my arms. It was in the neonatal unit, three days after he was born, when I was finally allowed to hold him for the first time.
I’d never dared imagine this moment as pregnancy was such a roller coaster and yet here he was against all odds, this tiny little being.
It was only then that the tears started to flow. A neonatal nurse had to wipe them off his face.
This Christmas, WaterWipes is encouraging mums to step back from the chaos for 20 minutes every now and then to enjoy a quiet sleepy cuddle, and we think this is a great idea.
What can be more heavenly than the peace of your baby falling asleep on you?
With this in mind, we asked our contributors to share a treasured memory of their baby falling asleep on them. We’d love you to do the same too, just use the tagline#Sleepie on social media.
Emily Jenkinson, journalist
Two weeks after my daughter was born, when my husband returned to work, we had a maternity nurse to stay for a while. She was brilliant and showed me what to do in terms of getting her into a routine etc.
However, she was quite purist Gina Ford and I do remember one boiling afternoon shortly after she had left thinking, “You know what, I really can’t be arsed to hump round and round the park for this so-called afternoon nap, I wonder if there is another way?”
I fished out the dummy I had hidden away guiltily when the maternity nurse was there, lay on the sofa with my daughter on my chest and had a blissful hour of snuggling as she slept peacefully on me and a gentle breeze wafted through the windows.
I have a picture of the exact moment – sent to my husband along with a text saying “sod the routine!”
Rosie Trotter, founder Cook with Rosie
Even though Christmas 2015 was the most sleep deprived time of my life with a newborn and a nearly 2 year old…it was still a very special one.
Clinging onto the last drips of adrenaline a few weeks after Lochie’s birth, I remember an afternoon just the 2 of us, when my toddler was on a surprise outing with her Auntie, and our home felt so extraordinarily peaceful.
Lochie’s warmth, and his short milky breaths post-feed gave me this sense of calm and contentment that I wanted to hold onto forever.
Who was it who said that you love your child just a little bit more when they are asleep?
This is a picture I took of my husband Anthony having a lie-in one Sunday morning with first child Lily, then four months, in the crook of his arm
I adore everything about it – especially the way her paw of a hand rests so insouciantly against the curve of his cheek.
It is now 15 years on and Lily is now as a striking young woman who is taller than me. But this picture is still one of my all-time favourites.
Lily had barely arrived in the world – but it shows how completely loved we wanted her to feel – and how much trust she put in us to keep her safe.
In an otherwise hectic world, the time parents take to gaze at their babies sleeping is never wasted.
To me, these moments are some of the most important of all. It’s then that we finally get time so sit back and wonder: ‘How did we make something so perfect and beautiful?.’
Clio Wood, founder &Breath Postnatal
We’d only been back from the hospital for a couple of days after our little one had been in the NICU for 4 days and we didn’t know what the hell we were doing.
Stressed and discombobulated, we just didn’t know how to stop our daughter screaming!
We tried lots of different things, cuddles, milk, nappies, rocking, singing, and finally I stripped off her clothes and put her on my bare chest for some skin-to-skin.
She stopped crying IMMEDIATELY and the two of us slept for an hour. A short respite, sure (and it wasn’t nearly as effective when we tried it after that!) but much needed at that early stage of parenthood.
Nicole Salvesen, interior designer and co-founder of Salvesen Graham
It took me until I had my third baby to really spend time cuddling and allowing them to sleep wherever and whenever they wanted. In my arms couldn’t be a better place.
It is a moment that always made me feel calm and full of protective love for all my children, not just the one in my arms. Suddenly tidying the house or thinking about all those jobs didn’t matter anymore.
I can never thank all those around me that gave me the chance for the quiet and calm to hold my babies like this!
Caroline Davies, journalist
After the flurry of activity following the birth of my daughter, we settled into a routine at home. She suffered horribly with colic and didn’t like to sleep in her crib so I had the opportunity to take full advantage of the ‘fourth trimester’ and spent hours curled up on the sofa watching trashy box-sets whilst she slept peacefully on my chest.
This photo was taken very early on and it was one of the first occasions that I really felt like a mum. My whole world had shifted and despite all the difficulties and feelings of ‘winging it’ I had never experienced a love like it.
Henrietta Rodgers, journalist
When Tessa was about 7 weeks old, I made the mistake of hiring a “supernanny” consultant as I felt I was sinking and desperately needed help with juggling a toddler and fitting a baby into a routine.
One of her instructions was that I should under no circumstances go into T’s bedroom when she was crying at 4am to give her a cuddle as she must learn to sleep and settle on her own.
It went against every instinct I had so I sacked the cruel nanny the following morning and let T fall asleep on me for every sleep that day and night and each one was bliss for us both.
Laura Clifford, founder Little Learning Seeds
My first cuddle with baby #2, after unexpected post delivery surgery and that moment they fall fast asleep on your chest.
Joy, happiness, relief, peace and adoration. A rare, but memorable moment of uninterrupted calm before reality and siblings!
Rachael Armitage, lawyer
I remember with both of my boys, Dougie and Theo, how special it was the first time that they fell asleep on me. It was in the early hours of the morning on the hospital bed, a few hours after I had given birth, and I was unable to sleep (unlike my husband) as my adrenaline was still pumping after labour.
So instead of sleeping whilst the baby slept, all I could do was gaze at this wonderful little being that I had just brought into the world and listen to every breath they drew as they rose up and down on my chest.
I felt like I would never sleep again as I didn’t want to miss a single second!
Aurora Hutchinson, Mumfidential editor
At home, sitting by the window on a beautiful spring day. We were completely alone. My newborn baby had just breastfed and he was sleeping peacefully in my arms.
His face was rosy from the satisfaction of a full belly and from the warmth of us being so close. I drank in every little part of him and I felt like he knew he was in the safest place in the world.
It was at that moment I realised how fiercely I loved my little boy, and an already strong bond was made stronger.
Rachel Thomson-Glover, fashion writer
I always remember those rather bleary eyed first weeks when we bought our second little boy Lukas home. Lars then a toddler would sleep for 45 minutes tops the whole day. I would throw him in bed with strict go to sleep, don’t come out of your room, I’m watching you sort of instructions and rush with baby Lukas to our rocking chair where I would pray that he might ,just might, want to nap too…please god.
Denise Marshall, journalist
Not the most flattering selfie, but a beautiful moment on a Turkish beach with my six-month-old Finley I will treasure forever.
I felt forced to stop breastfeeding a month after this picture was taken as I was desperate to take hayfever medication, but a few weeks before I stopped nursing we had our first family holiday as a four, and mum and son cuddles were top of the agenda.
I’d just fed Finley and he settled for a snooze on our sun lounger. The beach was overcast and empty, my eldest son and husband had headed to the pool to play and I knew this was a peaceful moment just the two of us looking out to sea.
The relaxed pose symbolises the whole holiday – it was no problem nursing my child in this Muslim country, it was an incredibly family friendly place and we just were in a stress-free bubble of feeding, playing and cuddling before weaning set in.
How I’d love to be back on that tranquil lounger when the festive season goes crazy!