Faintly at first and then louder as I wake from my dreams, I hear his cry from over the baby monitor. I know I should wait. Allow him to put himself back to sleep. Allow myself to go back to sleep. Instead, I go to him because those quiet moments we share during the night do my soul more good than a few extra moments of sleep would do my body.

Before he was born, I devoured books that instructed me in the art of getting a baby to sleep through the night. I planned to do everything I could to establish healthy habits—while reminding myself it was fine if he didn’t doze for 10 straight hours until he was at least a couple of months old.

I would have been shocked at the time if I known it would be more than a year until I put him down at night and didn’t see his face until morning. I also would have been shocked with myself for how little I came to mind the nightly routine of responding to his calls.

But now I know there’s something special about the bond that develops only after the midnight hour…

I love quietly cracking open the door to his bedroom and finding him expectantly waiting for me and the comfort I’ll provide.

I love sitting down the the glider that was so rarely used during active moments of the day for some calm cuddles or nighttime nursing.

I love that the melody of my lullabies soothes him even if my singing voice isn’t welcomed by anyone else.

I love the way he reaches up to my face as he’s done since he was a newborn, as if to make sure I’m real—because I feel the same way about him.

I love getting to feel his growing body curled up in my arms to remind me that even though he’s starting to look like a little boy, he’s still my baby.

I love listening to the night sounds and feeling unencumbered by the distractions that keep my mind racing through the day.

I love studying the outline of his face in the dimness of the room as he drifts back to sleep.

I love gently placing him back in his crib and feeling my heart flutter with anticipation of the time we’ll spend together in the morning.

But, most of all, I love him for who he is today. If that means I don’t sleep through every night, that’s a price I’m willing to pay many times over.