He’s wiggling around and making little grunts. When he was first born, she would wake up when he was in the middle of a full on cry. She realizes at this moment that she hasn’t woken up to his actual cries in a very long time, that she can always hear him moving around first. That makes her sad. She can’t remember the last time she was in that deep, peaceful, luscious version of sleep that she took for granted as a teenager.
She looks over to her husband’s side of the bed and tries to look passed his comfortableness, in that fluffy blanket cocoon and pleasant obliviousness to any open eyes in the room, and looks at the clock on his nightstand. 3:24 am. She looks away and can’t remember the exact numbers she saw anymore. It’s always 3:20something, not sure why she even had to look. It’s a habit now, she supposes, to see how much sleep she’s gotten. After figuring out the math in her head for a few seconds, it isn’t much. Just like the other nights she had counted.
The babe’s still moving around and she feels like a robot as she removes the warm blanket from her body. It’s not exactly hard to get out of bed anymore. And she’s finally able to leave the lights turned off when all three of them are asleep in the room. She’s finding a routine. When they first brought him home from the hospital, she had kept a lamp on all night. She wanted to watch his breathing, make sure he was still alive. Some nights she lay with her head at the foot of the bed so she could see him better, when she watched him for so long that it became time to feed him again. In the hospital, she had requested that he stay in the room with her every night they had to be there. She didn’t trust anyone else to treat her babe with the love she did.
The first night that he was out of the womb, after the seven or eight hours of labor and the pushing and the cutting, she hadn’t slept a minute. She was in the hospital bed, facing the bassinet beside her, and just watched him breathe. At her request, only one light had been kept on, the one right behind him so she could have the best view of this big miracle in a small body.
Now he is almost three months old and it’s 3:20something again. She lifts the little boy out of his rocking bed- he won’t stay asleep in his crib yet- and brings him to where she had been sleeping. It had taken her some time to be comfortable bringing him to bed with them. One of the biggest rules they gave them in the hospital: no sleeping with baby. But she’s comfortable with this now too. And his now 14 pound body doesn’t seem quite as fragile to her as it did weeks ago. Months ago now?
She lies down on her side and sets the babe down between her and her husband. The babe latches on and she brings the blanket up over them both, his head and arms sticking out the top. She curls up around the little one and his feet are cold, pressing against the very place he used to live for all those months. His eating is so quiet now. She doesn’t miss those loud gulps and grunting when they were in public, having to breastfeed in front of others when she wasn’t used to it yet and felt like all eyes were on them. But she truly misses it when they are alone. She misses his little cat paws too, the way he would lay his hand on his human bottle and grasp it off and on like kittens do to the mama cat when they are all lined up and eating.
She just can’t believe how big he is in this moment, curled up around him and he curled up in her. It doesn’t even feel like this is the same little babe she popped out into the doctor’s hands. She closes her eyes and listens to his quiet, quiet swallows.
In the morning, after her husband leaves for work, she engages in the daily “toesies” session with the babe. For the last few weeks, the babe’s best mood is in the mornings. So she takes advantage of this and grabs at his toes, saying in an unnecessarily high-pitched voice, “Toesies, toesies! I got your toesies!” And he opens his mouth wide in a smile, showing his dimple, and squeals like he’s trying to laugh but he’s not quite sure how to do it. She loves making him happy.
She pulls out her phone to take a picture of him. She opens Instagram, the app that used to be filled with her pictures of random landscapes and selfies that has now become her little man’s personal photo album. She snaps a shot of his toesie, toesie, toesies face and uploads it to share his contagious happiness with her friends. She opens her profile to see all of her current photos lined up, one after another of her babe growing in reverse. She glances at the description she had written under her name years ago. She can’t remember the last time she read it but it is how she described her whole being once upon a time. I like antiques and driving and loud music. And it surprises her. She can’t remember the last time she did those things, when she went antique shopping or driving or blasting her current favorite song. Oh man. She bets she wouldn’t even know what songs are playing on the radio anymore when at one time, she would know almost every word of every popular song if she liked it or not. She only ever listens to the radio in the car and her husband likes classic rock. And when was the last time she drove by herself and got to pick the station?
She’s not sure what to think at this moment. It brings up a whole string of thoughts. She played guitar. She performed live music. She used to write songs at one point and it’s probably been, what, over a year since she wrote one? She used to drive around a lot and take pictures and go outside. Yes, she left the house sometimes.
And suddenly, she misses things that she forgot she liked. She likes sleep too. She remembers that, if only a little. She likes to sew. She likes talking to people. She likes going places. She likes concerts and yes, that thing again, loud music.
Maybe one day she’ll do those things again but they will never describe her anymore. That saddens her but also makes her happier than she could have thought possible. I like antiques and driving and loud music. But she scrolls down her Instagram again and sees all those pictures of her babe. And suddenly she realizes that now she’s one of those ladies who don’t have to list random things she likes to describe herself anymore, trying to be creative to grab attention and be called ‘unique’. She can describe herself as a mother, wife and keeper of the home. And even if her sixteen-year-old self could see that new description and wonder why now she uses such boring language, it doesn’t matter. Because at this moment, the most exciting thing ever, even more exciting than sleeping through the night and driving and loud music, is seeing her son’s face light up as she says, I got your toesies!