|KJ, the little one responsible.|
Sleep is a blanket that can be rumpled and disturbed. It’s dark, almost black, but not quite. Warm and comforting, occasionally laced with images, dreams, both good and bad, but mostly a welcome blanket that settles over and protects.
But it can be disturbed.
It starts with a whimper. A muttered cry, an incoherent whisper that slips in between the folds, poking at the reluctant unconscious. The blanket shifts, rustling and gently defiant.
But the whimper is not content at the lack of response. It stutters and gains strength, calling out, penetrating the thickest of slumber, reaching in and touching that point, that link, the invisible chain that only that sound can touch.
And it wrenches you out of sleep.
Your baby is crying.
Sleep is replaced by a dark room, shadows lazily sketched out by a curtain-dampened street light and the harsh edges of red numbers declaring it to far too early for any sane person to be awake.
But then you are no longer a sane person.
You’re a mother.
Stumbling out of bed before your brain has fully engaged results in a teeter into the wardrobe and a trip without postcards over the pair of slippers you fell out of the evening before
But you can’t cry out. Must be quiet. It is night and everyone is asleep except you and your baby. She calls and calls and calls.
Lamp switches blind you and you blink as the night is washed away. It may tease at the headache you haven’t quite escaped, but it is the thought of whether the light is too bright for the baby that concerns you the most.
In truth, baby doesn’t care. She’s too busy communicating you the state of her stomach.
Haste. Is it the urgency of the cry, the threat that baby will die in the next few minutes if she isn’t immediately satisfied, or the concern of waking others in the house that takes priority? You don’t really know, your brain hasn’t been fully engaged since she was born. All you know is that she needs to be fed.
And whatever she wants is the most important thing in the world.
Listing off the rights and wrongs of lifting a child as you reach into the bassinet, desperately attempting to reassure the red face screaming at you. “It’s okay, honey, it’s okay.” Whispers that often don’t make it to the intended ears and you’re left wondering if you’re reassuring the little one or yourself.
Picking her up results is a surprised halt of noise and the house settles into night once again, only the light in the nursery revealing the lie.
Everything’s okay. Mummy’s here.
I love you.
The only response is a stunned stare followed by a reflex that ensures a newborn can feed, her gaping mouth rooting at your dressing gown, slobber caught in flannel.
It only takes moments to unfasten the bra you can never take off. Shifting pyjamas and breast pads, nestling your little one snug in your arms. But it is never fast enough. You take a moment too long, eye contact is lost and suddenly the noise starts up again.
It drills into your head and links with the primitive brain.
“Nearly there, hon, just a moment, just a moment.”
Nature didn’t design with maternity bras in mind.
The scream is cut off the moment she smells the milk. It’s welling at the nipple. Her cries have woken you in more ways than one, and your breast is hot, swollen, and waiting.
She roots blindly and you guide her, that gaping mouth desperate to feed.
And she latches on.
Sharp, burning pain. A breath sucked in for that moment.
But the cries have stopped and she is suckling. Your breath leaks out your mouth as she settles down. Your shoulders uncramp, you shift in position, seeking comfort, and her hands reach out to clasp your breast either side.
Don’t leave me, Mum.
And a pair of eyes stare up at you over the curve of your body. Innocent. Unknowing. Needing.
|Izzy, my current sleep challenger.|
This piece was written in March 2008, a few weeks after my little KJ was born (I was still attempting to write back then). This was what it was like for me as a first time mum. I'm now a second time mum and things, while still wardrobe collidingly challenging, are slightly different, and as Izzy is now six months old, the world is re-emerging at my feet as sleep does make an occasional visit to my brain :D