31 Days:: Baby’s Breath

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Day 10: Baby’s Breath


When my little guy Ben was only around 6 months old, I was up in the middle of the night with him—again… as always— and I got a whiff of his breath.  I need to first preface this by letting you know: I’m a big “smell person.”  My husband and kids tell me I’m part wolf because I can smell when one of my people has consumed soda or candy or gum— even if it was 10 hours prior!  Literally.  So smells are a big deal to me.  And since lots of scents gross me out, I don’t typically have scented candles in my house, nor do I wear perfume or use scented lotion.  The only scented anything I can usually have on hand is lemon-scented hand soap in the kitchen.  That is nice.  Pretty much every other “false scent” is slightly nauseating.  I guess I just prefer things au natural whenever possible.  I know: I’m a weirdo.

Anyway.  What is my point?

Ah, yes.  Infant Benny in the middle of the night.

So on this one particular night, I was up holding him and patting his back and bouncing him to try to comfort him back to sleep.  As I held his little butt with my left hand and my right hand cradled his back, holding him close to my chest, I kissed the top of his head and spoke soothingly to him.  As he persevered in his wide-mouthed screaming in my face, I smelled it: his tiny little middle-of-the-night-stale-milk breath.  

Exhausted as I was, half asleep as I was, and frustrated as I was that he wasn’t cooperating and just going back to sleep like I wanted him to, the innocence and sweetness of that very unique nursing infant breath struck me.

“My little man will be a bona fide big boy some day,” I thought.  “And then a young man.  And then a man— a real live man.”  And even though these sleepless nights were just about to make me become a crazy person— I was sure of it!— the fact of the matter is that they wouldn’t last forever.  I had proof of it on the other side of his bedroom wall where his big sisters slept soundly.  They, too, used to drive me crazy by waking up all hours of the night.   They, too, wouldn’t listen to reason and just calm the heck down so that I could get some darn sleep.  I remember those nights with them feeling so. very. long.

And yet… I cannot for the life of me remember if their breath smelled like this when they were babies.

And the thought of that— the thought that someday I wouldn’t be able to remember how Ben’s breath smelled on this particular night— brought tears to my eyes and a very distinct heaviness to my heart.

Almost frantically, I breathed in his scent as deep as I could. Again and again, I breathed him in and I tried to find the words to describe this scent so that I would be able to remember it years down the road.  So that I would be able to come back to this moment in time.  This aggravating, yet beautiful-beyond-description moment in time.

But I couldn’t think of any perfect words to describe it.  And I couldn’t think of any other smell it reminded me of.  It was simply the smell of Ben Ben’s breath.  Ben’s toothless, I haven’t nursed in a few hours, I’ve been screaming for quite some time now… breath.  It wasn’t gross like morning breath.  It wasn’t sweet like freshly nursed, dripping with milk, baby’s breath.  Nope.  It was different than anything I remember ever smelling before or since:  it was the smell of the middle of the night; the smell of a screaming infant.  It was the smell of innocence and toothlessness and purity and… quite accurately: it was the smell of I’m the only one who will ever remember this moment in time… this scent is just for me.

And it was beautiful.


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What about you?

What is a small moment in your life that carries great significance?  What vivid memory do you have that displays something simple, yet beautiful to you?

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One Comment

  1. I love this. Wow, thanks for sharing it (and if that’s a picture of your little Prince, what a joy!)
    I actually just posted an article in my 31 days today on scent, but a whole other type..!
    But I totally relate and affirm to you that their scents are precious… All my children have a smell and when theyve been held or hugged by someone else, that smell rubs off on them. Especially for my littlest (5 months) I liek to wash that off quick!
    (and I dont use stuff with fragrance–baby’s natural smell is so amazing. I can’t understand how Johnson and Johnson or “Zwitsal” here in Holland made it. They produced a synthetic fragrance to cover up our chidlren’s naturally sweet and unique smell.
    And we call that “baby smell”?!
    Anyway, soapboxing, yes, smell is a very special and powerful sense we have.
    Enjoy it and thanks for encouraging me to more enjoy mine!
    Love from Holland,

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