We have one of those clocks that projects the time onto the ceiling. It makes it so I don’t have to get up on my elbow and look over my husband in the night to see the clock, which lives on his side of the bed. I lie awake, staring at the time ticking by overhead. It’s past 11pm and the baby usually wakes up somewhere around 11pm every day.
I listen to the sound of our fan humming, pointlessly twirling the air. I listen to my husband snoring beside me. I listen to the cat scratching on the furniture down the hall, out in the living room.
Finally, he wakes. I’d hoped to be settled in to sleep myself by then. He doesn’t want much, just to have my hand laid on his plump little body so he can settle in again knowing I’m close.
I get out of bed and move towards the crib, I think ‘at least my pillow might cool off a bit.’ The crib is in the corner of our bedroom, out of the way of the fan’s breeze – not even 4 steps from me. The plan was for him to share a room with his big sister once he started sleeping through the night but at nearly 9 months old…he’s only done that twice.
I drape myself over the side rail and gently place my palm on his back. He’s sticky with sweat but he instantly settles at my touch. I wait until the soother ceases to move in his mouth before I get back into my own bed.
Some nights he sleeps through until 4 and some nights he wakes at 1am. Again, I move out of the fan’s breeze and again I drape my body over the crib. I’m groggy. Tired. My hand rests on his tummy now, he’d rolled over, and he is restless. He flips onto his knees and sits up. Eyes blinking at me in the darkness.
I lay him back down, say “go night night now sweetheart,” his eyes flutter and it gives me hope that he’ll sleep again soon. My cheek rests on my forearm and I feel sweat begin to form in the middle. The railing is jammed between my breasts and presses uncomfortably into my sternum and I try to shift quietly without the buttons on my tank top rattling against it.
I wish I could slither right over that rail, into the crib. I’d curl my body around his and maybe we’d both get some sleep. He’s not settling. He’s squirming and rolling over and trying to stand up. He’s crying out. He’s upset. The small of my back is crying out too and sweat is forming now at the nape of my neck. I pick him up against the advice of the sleep training books I’ve read.
I bounce him on my hip. I sing his bedtime song and try again to put him down. The railing is back in it’s nook, my back is aching. He’s not having it. I fix him a bottle and he drinks and finally I can put him back to bed.
My husband sighs, says “Just bring him to bed.”
I arrange the horseshoe shaped pillow in the center of our bed and prop the baby up inside of it. It keeps us from rolling on his limbs. The queen size bed suddenly feels tiny and I lie, perched on the edge. I let my eyes close but don’t sleep. Not really. I doze in and out, opening my eyes to catch glimpses of him. I make sure he’s not flipped over to catch his face in the pillow. I make sure he’s not sat up and tried to crawl away towards the foot of the bed. I make sure he’s comfortable, sleeping well, safe.
“Morning Mommy!” It’s his big sister up and wound tight as the sweaty curls at her ears. She’s wanting to know what plans daddy has for her. My husband gets up, fills her sippy with milk, a clean bottle with formula and takes the kids to watch cartoons downstairs.
Finally, I sleep.