Several months later, on a sleepless night, I got up and wrote my baby a letter, something I've done a couple of other times since but should really do more:
At 4 a.m. you woke up crying. I was having trouble sleeping tonight for some reason, and I had heard you roll around and make little noises a couple of other times as I tossed and turned myself in my bed across the hall from you. I think one of the cats had pushed your door open and was exploring your closet, waking you by crinkling paper and crawling on boxes. But this time you cried, sounded upset. I shuffled to the kitchen and made you a bottle, went back into your room to see your head raised up, looking for me, I think.
Your little toes were cold (you had kicked off your covers as you usually do, and have, in fact, done since the day we brought you home from the hospital, never wanting your arms pinned down by the blanket or to be swaddled as most other newborns prefer), so I tucked you in next to me in my bed and curled around you, gave you your bottle. I held both of your tiny feet in one hand to warm them up, and you grabbed one of my fingers with your left hand and held it while you drank, both arms resting on your forehead.
I tried to close my eyes during your feeding—there were many times when you were younger, when you were getting up more than once in the night for food, that I fell asleep during this same routine, waking up panicked that I had smashed or suffocated your tiny, tiny little body, realizing an hour or more had gone by. When you were very small, from the time you were a few weeks or so until about three months maybe, you wouldn’t sleep in your bassinet, so for all of us to get a few hours of sleep, I laid you on my chest every night and slept half sitting up in bed, worrying all the while that I would drop you or, again, smash you…but your dad and I were so tired. You seemed to like listening to my heartbeat, like you were reminded of being back in the womb. I wondered if you would ever sleep in your crib, if we had failed as parents, spoiled you so that all three of us would be crowded into our queen size bed for years. Some nights I wondered if I’d ever be able to sleep on my side or stomach ever again. But, one day, you napped in your crib, and eventually started sleeping more and more in your own room and bed, until you didn’t even really like to sleep on my chest anymore even while we watched TV. Now, when your dad puts you down asleep in your crib, he says you smile when he pulls the covers up around you. He’s right. I’ve seen it too. So I’m free to toss and turn as I please, and most nights that’s a relief. But sometimes, a lot of times, I would love to sleep sitting up again, your sweet-smelling head tucked under my chin, our hearts beating in rhythm.
Tonight we went to a minor league baseball game--your first. It was hot, but you were so good. You wore your jean shorts and a light blue t-shirt and your navy blue visor that makes you look very preppy and adorable. I carried you around the stands when you got bored or fussy, and your dad gave you a few bites of his hot dog bun. You watched the players and listened to the announcer and crowd, with this look you have that I will never forget, a kind of wide-eyed, open-mouthed wonder, always taking everything in. Having you look at things, at everything, this way has made me do the same. It’s overwhelming the way I want to show you everything, to tell you about everything in this world and see what you think of it all. I love taking you places. We can’t go anywhere without at least two or three strangers stopping us to talk to you and to ask how old you are, what your name is, how much you weigh, to say how adorable/attentive/beautiful/handsome/big/tiny you are. I tell your dad it annoys me, strangers breathing on you, grabbing your fingers and giving you germs, but I’m really so proud. You are mine.
When the game was over, they turned out the stadium lights and there was a fireworks show. I stood in the dark by our seats holding you, and your dad came over to stand by us as the sparkles started filling the sky. We were both watching your face, your expressions, having both seen fireworks many times before but never our own son’s reaction to them. You were mesmerized, not even jumping when there was a loud boom. The three of us sat down on the steps, your dad’s arm around you and me, his hand on my knee and yours on my arm, and I felt unexplainably happy. This is my life, I thought. Our life. The three of us.
You didn’t really drink much of your bottle tonight (this morning!), but didn’t want to let go of it when I tried to take it out of your mouth. Your breathing was deep and slow, and I knew you were asleep again, but I didn’t want to take you back to your crib. I rubbed your face and hair and hands, just amazed by you and I couldn’t help but cry, softly though so I wouldn’t wake up your dad. Sometimes that’s all I can do when I look at you, I am just so overwhelmed by all the emotions I feel for you that tears are my only, sometimes irrational, release. You were completely relaxed, and your mouth looked just as it did in the ultrasound we had just a few days before you were born. I may never be able to make you understand how I felt that very moment looking at you…
I’ve heard when you can’t sleep it’s better to get up and do something instead of just lying there miserably, so I thought I’d write. I’m not sure I’m any sleepier having done so, but I feel contented that I got at least an impression of the way I’m feeling tonight down on paper. I should do that for you more, Macauley; I will try to…Time is going by so quickly; your third tooth is coming through now, your fine blonde hair is growing over your ears and into your eyes…you’re turning into a little boy. My baby. Even now I know there will come a time when you don’t want me to think of you as such, but you need to know I won’t be able to help it. You are my baby and always will be. You are loved more than you will ever comprehend.
22 August 2003
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."
Happy Baby Shower to you and your family, Bella! Thanks for the chance to share, Debbie.