I wake up. My hair is standing on end because I went to sleep with it wet from a late evening shower. The bed sheets are wrapped around me, tight & mummy like. My heart is pounding and my mouth feels dry. My bladder is full. It will have to stay that way. The dull blue from our son's night light sets the scene. The late night baby crying scene. I know this because it happens, still, from time to time. I do not mind it like I did before, it will not last forever.
I drop to my feet and stand up, the world spins a little as I am still dizzy with sleep from my strange twisted dream state. I try to get my bearings quickly. I hear her cries at first far away. Those cries penetrate my sleep and wake me up, always with a start, a jolt of electricity that I imagine to be ancient. Parents since the beginning of time have come alive when they hear their off spring screaming, especially in the dark of the night.
I lunge forward, out through the closed white door, around the corner, the short hallway and tug her closed door open. It is dark in there, a soft blue glow from a clock but mostly darkness. I can make out her shape, where she stands sobbing at the end of her crib. She knows to stand there at that spot in her crib, that is in the direction of the door, the way to safety, to my arms.
I pick her up without hesitation. I coo soft words to her. I imagine the horror she must feel when she wakes to find no one she knows around and it is dark. I snuggle her to my chest, her soft hair tickles my chin and her head bows gently under my neck, she stops crying immediately. It is 4:00am. I am tired but glad to be there with my baby.
I cuddle her up next to me and let her nurse, her ragged breathing sags into calm nursing gulps. I am hyper aware of the world around me when I wake up like that. Yet at the same time, it is all very dream like. I have to think hard about how it all happens in the morning. How mothering, parenting, is deeply ingrained. That we cannot be taught what is right or wrong for our children, that in some cases we just have to do what nature tells us to do, that is to nurture our babies, even in the wee hours of the morning, in the dark.
I hold her close and relish the moments I have, they are fleeting. She is already such a big girl. Her feet hang off the arm of the chair, she does not like to rest on the boppy which is just too small for her anyway. She is weightier and bulky compared to the baby I brought home last year who used to fit so perfectly in my arms and was so quiet and seemed to hardly move.
Now she is all action all the time. Like a giant pink fish in my arms, floppy and twisting, turning this way and that trying to get comfortable, wanting to stay close to me but also wanting to be on her tummy, on her own. Suddenly I feel her fingers, stroking my cheek and tiny sweet giggle rings out in the dark, then a sigh. Her breathing grows deeper. All is quiet.
I sit with my eyes closed, rocking and breathing in and out, calmness stretches over us. I am rubbing her back, knowing that this will not last, these early morning dreamy moments with my little baby girl.