Kathleen has been pretty good at sleeping at night. She still wakes up a couple of time to eat, but she tends to go longer stretches at night. Usually she wakes up, we change her, I nurse her, and Brian or I give her a bottle. Then we settle her and put her back in the bassinet or she doesn't want to be put down and one of us lies down with her on our chest. It's not a bad system. I can't complain.
Last night, she slept for a few hours and woke up around 2 a.m. She nursed; she had her bottle; and she looked at me with her big eyes, wide awake. She wasn't fussy, though her mouth kept going. I tried feeding her more. Still wide awake, and her mouth was still going. She'd close her eyes and then pop them back open. I let her suck and suck and suck. We did another bottle at 4. She had a series of loud, satisfying burps, and I put her down a little after 5.
As I sat there in the semi-dark with her, I remembered my sleepless nights this time last year, my grief so raw. I was afraid to go to bed then. As my mind and body started to settle down, any protective measures I had put up to get me through the day came down and the pain that seemed intolerable intensified. I'd sob briefly hugging Henry's blanket and eventually sleep. Every night I dreaded bedtime and I tried to avoid it. I'd sit up for hours doing crossword puzzles or endlessly searching online for something to comfort or help me through. I'd go to bed in the wee hours and sleep late.
I remember talking to a friend in March. It was almost 11 a.m., and I had just gotten up. "Lucky," she said. She had a new baby at home and had been up with him. Really? I thought. Lucky? Do you want my kind of luck? I wish I had a reason to get out of bed before 11. I wish I was up all night because somebody needed me.
I knew there might be a day when I had a new baby, when I had no sleep, and all I could think of was lying down and closing my eyes, but at that moment, I would have given anything to be up all night with a little one.
Now, with a new baby home, I do appreciate sleep. But while there are times I'm exhausted, I know it could be worse. Last night, I longed to get back into bed. I yearned to lie down and get some rest. But there was a warm little body in my lap. For a time there were big eyes staring up at my, there were soft tugs at my breast, and then there was a snuggly, sleepy little girl, eyes closed, face peaceful, so worth staying up for. I'm tired this morning, but I really can't complain. No, I can't complain at all.