Monday, November 24, 2014

right now is right.

Three hours. That's how much sleep I got last Wednesday night, roughly, from about 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. My poor baby had (has) a nasty cough that reared its ugly head about a half hour after I laid down in bed. She only just got over a runny nose and cough that lasted almost two weeks, so when we heard her start hacking around 11:00, we both let it go for a while to see if she'd sleep through it, like she's learned to do. Every seven minutes or so - juuust as I'd drift back off following her last coughing fit - she'd start back up again. She finally started crying after about an hour, right after our whispered conversation in bed: Should one of us go rock her so she can be upright for a while? Can we assemble the humidifier without waking her? Does she need breast milk or honey or milk and honey together? We ended up doing all of the above, with J.J. rocking her in the glider for an hour or so. Being upright seemed to help the most...so, unfortunately, not too long after J.J. laid her back down, the coughing started again.

I am...shall we say...not my best self during middle-of-the-night parenting scenarios. When Rowan was teeny-tiny, I experienced my lowest lows during the midnight hours, swinging wildly between rage and despair. I now understand how that was related to postpartum anxiety, but had no clue at the time. Whatever the cause, J.J. (who has always woken multiple times a night, thanks to his Type I diabetes, and can fall right back asleep) took over as the default middle-of-the-night parent long ago, doing all of her nighttime feedings and the occasional sickie-cuddle session. But he'd already put in his time on Wednesday night, so when she woke up for real around 1 a.m., I jumped up (not difficult, considering I hadn't actually slept yet) and went to rescue her.

I'm so glad I did.

J.J. always claimed to love rocking with her late at night, just the two of them. Rowan isn't much of a snuggler when she's awake, so nighttime is the best time to steal some prime Rowie cuddles. I hear that, but pumping has made me the last one to bed and the first to wake up for 13+ months, and like I said, I turn into a crazy hell-demon without regular sleep. So I prefer to lull her back to dreamland as quickly as possible, leaving myself a sliver of a chance of Jedi-mind-tricking myself back to sleep.

But on Wednesday? Oh, there was just something about her. As soon as I lifted her from the crib (along with Bunny and a paci, of course), she melted into my arms. We eased into the glider; she shifted and sighed, staring contentedly at the nightlight and making a half-hearted baby sign for "light". I buried my nose in her silky hair, still smelling of her shampoo from her bedtime bath, and her eyes drifted closed. For the first time since she was - maybe three or four months old? - I watched my baby sleep. I watched grimaces and grins flicker across her face; I watched her eyelashes flutter. I dared to kiss her velvet cheek and hold her pudgy hand. I was amazed, all over again, at the fact that this human, this girl, my baby, grew inside of me and - exists. Her head was nestled near my armpit and her legs were bent like a frog, and I realized with a start that she was in her preferred in utero position. I placed my hand on her head and remembered feeling it through the stretched skin of my belly.

I didn't feel a super strong connection to my baby as a fetus, like some pregnant women do. I certainly loved her at birth, but I only fell in love with her gradually, as I got to know her. Some days, I can't believe it's possible to love someone as much as I love Rowan. That night, as I rocked her and sniffed her and snuggled her, the impossible happened, and I fell in love with her all over again, harder than ever before.

Nothing in this world makes me happier than watching my baby girl grow and laugh and learn and change. There was a Humans of New York Facebook post the other day featuring a man who voiced his regret that he had sacrificed his daughters' potential inheritance from him by staying home with them when they were little, and it sparked intense fear and guilt in me. How selfish am I being, putting my wants ahead of child(ren)'s future financial security? That fear tends to metastasize in the dark, cold hours of night. And yet, the other night, despite the hour, it was neither dark, nor cold, nor fearful. The weight of her love rested against my chest, and peace with where we are in life right now seeped into my skin and my bones. Right now, it is good. Right now, it is right.

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