In My Arms

I hold my babies while they go to sleep. Not Trombone, anymore, but when he was wee and now Fresco. I was thinking today, imagine if I was someone who refused, who put her babies in bed to sleep (and whose babies participated in this quaint ritual!) I would not know the sweetness of a round, sleeping cheek, the complete relaxation of a furrowed brow, the heavy sink of muscles released, if I had never held them, watched them, breathed them down to unconsciousness.

Fresco is in the midst of a sleep regression, the nastiest of all, the 8.5 month-er, and so any hope for him to sleep normally, whatever that is, is lost. This week he nurses to sleep, unless he doesn’t and then he jiggles to sleep, unless he doesn’t and then sometimes I just stare at him and try to will him to sleep, but that hardly ever works and then I try everything again until finally, he gives up, heaves a sigh, moans a little, collapses.

This morning, in the dark of 7:30 am it was nap time so I performed the rituals and finally he dozed and as I waited for him to be asleep enough to be put down, I remembered holding Trombone while he napped, every nap, until he was about this age. With some exceptions, I took it for granted at the time and now I haven’t watched Trombone sleep in almost 2 years. After Fresco begins sleeping normally (this will happen, right?) I will not, hopefully, be witness to my children at rest for the rest of their lives and I rocked as I thought and I watched my baby drift off, moving his arm rhythmically like a swimmer; up to his ear, back down to his side, up to his ear again and then, finally, tucked under his belly, still. I imagined him months ago, in the womb, in his deep sea bubble, moving his arm like this, or trying to. It made me smile.

I want more sleep. I fantasize about sleep the way people do about more carnal, less pedestrian things. My eyes are two chemical burns in my head. My skin is the colour of sick concrete. When I go to bed at 9:15 pm and am woken at 9:55 from the deep dive into unconsciousness that I take as soon as my light is out, I sometimes cry along with the baby as I lift him from his crib, nestle him close, watchful as he barely interrupts his slumber to eat, comfort himself, be sure I am still there, still coming to him. I twitch, doze off, sometimes get back to bed to see that 45 minutes has passed and I know the baby does not take more than 10 minutes to eat. All I want is 5 hours straight, or 6, or actually what I want is a month in bed, alone, my pillow and me, actually what I want is quiet, earplug-quiet, my own sore bones absorbed by the pillow topped mattress, all I want.

All I want. I want all.

What I want is the peace for myself that I see on my baby’s face while he sleeps. But I do not begrudge him this, not now. Not today. Today the room, the air, was so still I swear I saw his eyelashes grow. Today I saw a smile pull at his lips that made him look years older, years wiser, like a funny old man. Today I am glad I was awake to see him sleeping, there to witness his most vulnerable beauty.

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