I previously had the idea that my children conspire to make certain nights hellish for my husband and me. I don’t think that they have a hushed meeting behind a closed closet door huddled around a flashlight while articulating their plan–that’s silly–our flashlight needs new batteries, and the baby can’t sit up. I am leaning toward the idea that their brains telepathically communicate that they should get up in the middle of the night. And often. And staggered.
It’s 12 A.M., and I decide that, perhaps, Chloe isn’t going to wake up soon to eat, so I should go ahead and get in a couple hours of sleep. At 12:15, I hear her little cry. I grab my glasses off my nightstand, amazed at how quickly I went from awake to asleep and now very groggy. I take my time swinging my feet over the side of the bed and listen as Matt gets up to change the baby. I go to meet him in her room; I’ll nurse her in the rocking chair. Instead, I meet Matt in the doorway.
“She just wanted her binky. She’s back asleep.”
I climb back in our bed that’s much too tall for me (although, I love it) and begin to snuggle under my sheet and next to Matt. The little cry returns.
“Uggh,” or some other kind of grunt leaves my mouth. I look over at Matt who decided he had already completed his duty and continue getting back down from our bed. I go into Chloe’s room and smile at this sweet baby who is looking up at me with the sleepiest little face. I pick her up and change her and then move us into the rocking chair. As she nurses, I relax into the chair, allowing my head to fall to the side and my body to melt into the cushions as much as possible while nursing in an upright position. When I don’t notice any more sucking, I gently pick up Chloe and lay her back down in her crib, positioning her binky back in her tiny mouth.
As I walk into my room, I look forward to the ascent into my bed, as Chloe should now have her long stretch of sleep. Maybe, tonight she’ll sleep eight hours straight as she did a few weeks ago. I take off my glasses and lay them on the nightstand and begin to drop next to Matt on my pillow when I hear footsteps scurrying down the hallway. Footsteps carry emotions with them, and these footsteps are carrying a scared little boy.
Caleb frantically bounds into our bed, and I try to suppress another “uggh” knowing that my little boy is scared.
“Come on, Caleb. I’ll lie down with you in your bed. Come on, buddy. Let’s go.”
I finally convince him that I’ll really follow if he gets out of my bed, and we jump down. We make a quick pit-stop to the potty, and then crawl into his little twin bed. I will myself not to fall asleep so as to be able to move my neck in the morning. When I am assured that Caleb is calm and sleeping, I trek back down the hallway and into my room.
I glance at the clock on Matt’s nightstand which now reads a little past 1 A.M. and muster up the strength to climb what now looks like Mt. Everest. It’s less than six hours before the alarm is supposed to wake me, but I welcome any sleep and snuggle next to Matt.
Chloe must read my thought and takes it literally because she awakes at 3:30 to which I announce, “I am not feeding her.” Matt quiets her but eventually brings her in our bed at 4:30 when she yells that she’s not kidding. I try to nurse her while lying down, even though I’m fairly certain that she’s not hungry. I don’t care; I just want to sleep, and if nursing Chloe will achieve that goal, so be it.
Unfortunately, Chloe doesn’t want to eat and squirms and cries.
“Maybe she’s uncomfortable. Let me get a diaper; you watch her,” I order Matt as I hop off the bed. I zig-zag down the hallway as a drunken woman looking for a drink, except I don’t need any help passing out. I have to descend our stairs to get a cloth diaper out of the dryer ( I really need to buy more of those things) and back up again. I change Chloe only to produce the same result–a squirmy, crying baby.
Back off the tallest bed in the world with Chloe in tow and onto her rocking chair. As I hold her close and softly sing, I feel her break wind against my hand and know the cause of her discomfort. We gently rock until she is finally soothed, and I lay her down in her crib.
It’s almost 5 A.M., and I wonder if it’s even worth climbing into bed but try once again. This time I don’t attempt any closeness with Matt, nor him with me. We are both curled into our own little cocoons of quiet, and I let sleep envelop me.
When Matt’s alarm goes off at 5:30 A.M, I am amazed that he actually gets out of bed. Guessing our talk about guarding our family time has hit home with him, I roll back over knowing Matt will be off to the gym soon. I hear the shower but am too tired to process what that sound means.
About 15 minutes later, I hear footsteps running down the hallway. This time, they carry the emotion of happiness with them, and a little boy bounds into my bed.
“Put Curious George on!” Caleb exclaims excitedly.
“Caleb, lay down and go to sleep. It’s not even 6:00!” I grunt, but Caleb is wide awake. When I beg him again in a tone that is much harsher than I intend, he plops off the bed and in a pile on the floor. I quickly apologize and plead with him to lie down next to me in bed. We can snuggle.
Caleb complies, but all of these dramatics have roused me. I know I will not sleep any more this morning.
When Matt finally comes out of the bathroom dressed, I ask him, “What are you doing? I mean, why are you up so early if you’re not going to the gym.”
“I wanted to get in early in case I have to leave to help you out.”
As I push through the fog of thoughts in my mind–Does he think I might fall asleep and need someone to watch the kids? Is he afraid I’m going to hurt the kids?!–I understand his statement.
“My doctor’s appointment is tomorrow, Matt.”
I very well may have told Matt that I was looking for someone to watch the kids today, Thursday, instead of Friday. I don’t know. What I do know is the look of utter dejection on my husband’s face when he realized he had woken up at 5:30 A.M. on no sleep for nothing. And in that moment, I knew he must love me more than anything.
For weeks, months, years, Matt has tried to wake up early in order to get to the gym before work instead of after. His pattern of hitting the snooze button for two hours straight has become a sore spot in our marriage. He cannot seem to wake up early for anything, yet he did it, on maybe two hours of solid sleep, for me.
As tired as I am, I stare at him from amidst the covers and pillows and feel a warmth inside I hadn’t quite felt in such a way before. We kiss, say our “I love you’s,” and Matt heads down the hallway only to return a moment later with another child.
“She’s awake, too?” I question incredulously as Matt puts Hannah Grace in bed with me.
“Yes. She was just standing at the baby gate staring.”
I can only smile and officially get up to get the kids ready for preschool. I have the fleeting thought that they will nap well today, but I know better than to believe such an idea.
I’ve never been a coffee-drinker, but I think today might be a good day to start.