Every night we run a marathon together, you and me, Pony P. I start out with so much confidence, such high hopes, maybe tonight, it will be different. But then it happens, 30, 60, 90 minutes after I’ve laid down my weary head, up pops yours and out comes your barbaric yelp. In that moment, my body does some strange things. My tummy flips, my heart palpitates, the skin between my boobs begins to sweat, and a wave of dread washes over me.
No, please, no. Go back to sleep, P. Go back to sleep…Please don’t make me go dawn there.
I hold my breath, waiting the suggested 5 minutes that feel like fifty while you continue to cry out. By 3 minutes I’ve had enough. I turn on the video monitor lighting up our darkened bedroom. Your Dad sleeps next to me, seemingly oblivious. There you are, standing up, holding onto the bars of your crib cell, demanding some attention. How can I resist? The sooner I nurse you the sooner I can fall back asleep. That is my logic. It makes perfect sense to me. Especially around midnight when I’ve barely begun to dream.
Down the creaking old stairs I go, creaks I am sure you know by heart. Your Dad and I have found the loudest ones, we avoid them like skilled gymnasts. In front of your door, I take a deep breath, and in I go. You always scream when you see me, out of relief, anger, fear, I never know. I pick you up breathing you in nuzzling your neck while your little arms wrap around mine. I love this moment. I love how tightly you hold on, I love the sound of your breath in my left ear. I tell you how much I love you as I sit down on the nursing chair swinging your warm body around and onto my lap sideways. You frantically search for the holy grail, my nipple, and once you find it, a tiny sigh escapes your lips before you latch on for dear life. And that, my love, is the moment when it all makes sense. In that moment, as we rest into each other, no matter how tired, annoyed, frustrated, or delirious I am, I can’t help being overcome with this incredible wave of gratitude and sheer joy in the simple weight of you, in my arms. I close my eyes and feel our bellies breathing in and out together. Sometimes I wrap my fingers around your chubby warm feet or kiss your roving hand.
And then I thank God for you your Dad this life. And I really mean it.
When you’ve been satiated, I sit you up, you arch your back, and it’s up and away back into your crib. Potato Bug. Creeping out the door and carefully negotiating the stairs, I think to myself how they use the sound of babies crying to train Navy Seals and lack of sleep as torture and I say to myself-
I would make a horrible Navy Seal but a damn good hostage.
As I lay my head back down on my now chilled pillow next to your warm Dad, I look at the clock, realizing, fuck, if this is a GOOD night, there will only be 3 or 4 more of these to go.
It’s only the beginning of a long long night. We haven’t even reached the half way mark yet. A word comes to mind.
I can endure, more than most, and I’m not sure that is always such a good thing. Some think I am mad for enduring this so long. Our marathon of sleep issues. But I could probably go on forever. Or at least I always think so when I am finally back in bed and you are asleep once more.
But then it starts up again, sometimes 30 minutes later, the cry, the shakes, the stairs, the bliss. And I am in the thick of it again. However, once 5:30am rolls around, I know I’m near the end. I can almost taste the finish line. The marathon is over. Your Dad is next. It’s his turn. I nurse you one last time, sighing as I hit my pillow. And go deep deep deep.
Funny thing is, when I finally do wake up and see your beautiful little face, I forget all of it.
And I’m ready to run again.