The Middle of the Night

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His cries pierce the deepest sleep I've had all night.  I look at the clock.

Damn, it's only been 45 minutes this time.  It's the fourth time I've been up with him since we went to bed a few hours ago.

My feet hit the floor with a thud.  I run into the door frame with my shoulder.  I stumble down the hall.  I'm in a fog, moving strictly on autopilot.  I open his bedroom door and stand over his gently rocking bassinet where his face is screwed up in a cry.  I lean down and pick him up, again.

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I used to love the nighttime.  After my son and my husband were in bed and it was just me and a quiet house.  It felt peaceful.  And then I'd fall into bed with exhaustion, after a day well spent.  Now I fall into bed with exhaustion, but exhaustion of a different kind.  It's a bone deep exhaustion.  The kind you aren't sure you'll ever truly recover from.  Now nighttime brings on anxiety because I never know how the night will go.  Will he be up every half hour?  Or will he surprise us and sleep for four hours straight?  More often than not it's the former and I'm walking between my room and his for hours on end when the rest of the world is sleeping.

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I'm sitting in our hand-me-down rocking chair roughly patting his worn green swaddle.  I'm half hoping the patting will burp him, half hoping it will calm him.  I hear the sound of the bassinet rocking, his soft snores as he's burrowed into my neck.  In my head I'm repeating please sleep, please sleep, please sleep.  

His breathing begins to slow and at the same time, his mouth turns into a smile.  The kind of newborn smile that they only do in their sleep.  Unwittingly, the corners of my mouth turn up to mimic his.  In that moment, in the dark and stillness of the house, all is forgiven and my heart feels full again.  I stroke his head, I kiss his round cheeks, and slowly I rise from the chair, take the two steps to the bassinet and put him back down.

I cross my fingers and back out of the room, careful not to step on the squeaky spot on the floor.  I quietly close his door and walk back to my room where I collapse into bed with a sigh.

Please sleep, please sleep, please sleep.