I love the smell of baby's breath. Not the little white flowers that come in those cliche' bouquets of roses. The breath of an actual baby. Okay, I can own that this may be a little weird to some of you, however I would wager that any mom who has nestled her cheek up against that of her sleeping baby would understand what I'm talking about.
I really wish I could describe it for those who don't know. It smells light, and sweet, and warm. To me it embodies that fundamental closeness that exists between a mother and her infant. Intimacy. Oneness.
The human infant has the most complex and intelligent mind of any other infant of any other species. It is also the most helpless. A baby is born from his mother's womb and clings to her. He knows her by the sounds of her voice, and by her smell. He needs her in every imaginable way.
A mother gives birth to her child and gives to him in every imaginable way. It is as if she is now holding her own heart in her arms. To see it hurting or wanting in any way would be to physically suffer.
I can't count the times I sat with my babies, nursing them in the peaceful glow of the nightlight, so desperate for sleep, but grateful for that moment. They would fall asleep, and I would cradle them up close to my face. I would whisper little lullabies to them, and gently rub noses with them. I would linger with them, even after their tummies were full. I would forget for a moment how tired I was, and that I could now tuck my baby in and go back to bed. I would stare at the way they would rest their perfect little lips apart just so as they slumbered, and I would lean into them and breath them in. I would drink in their sweet, brand-new breath.
Even now my Little Man still has that baby breath, and I find myself rubbing noses with him when he yawns, or kissing his cheeks while he's laughing trying to catch that sweet smell. As they get older they lose it. It disappears with the macaroni and cheese and chocolate milk and blue raspberry suckers. I will never forget that smell though, long after it has left my babies' lips. It is entangled in the memories I have of their infancy, and the intimacy we shared that is the basis of our relationships today. They may be walking and talking and growing taller, but when I hold them in my arms, it is still my heart I hold.