If we're lucky, Ike settles down for a "long" stretch around 10 pm. Four, maybe even five hours while swaddled up in his crib. A few weeks ago, that same exact number seemed glorious, decadent, a brilliant stroke of luck. Now, I can't help but feel impatient, waiting for him to take another step forward and sleep juuuuust a little more, a little longer.
Sometimes I attempt to carve out some (ha ha ha) "me" time. I'll jog around the dark, quiet neighborhood. Or just watch TV and have a glass of wine. Or think about painting my toenails, but that's just way too much of a time committment. The minute he goes down, the clock starts ticking.
Sometimes he wakes back up at 11. And then 12. And then so forth.
But on the "good" nights, I usually just grab the monitor and head to bed at the same time, but am unable to sleep. The exhaustion that drags after me all day gets replaced with a weird, amped-up overtired state as I stare at the clock and mourn each passing minute as a missed opportunity, as my body stays primed and ready for the inevitable first waking and maybe around midnight I manage to close my eyes and get some sle...
BAM, it's almost 3 am and he's up. I hear him down the hall, even before his cries come through on the monitor, and I wait for Jason to wake up and go get him because that's our deal but Jason stays asleep and I glare at him for awhile and it would be easier to just go get the baby myself but WE HAVE A DEAL and I reach over and turn up the volume on the monitor instead because DEAL. WE HAVE ONE.
Jason stumbles around and gets the baby and changes his diaper and brings Ike back to our bed and seems to be back asleep within 30 seconds. I nurse and doze and sit up to burp him and fumble for the rag I always keep hooked over the headboard oh crap, where is it, right as he casually yaks all over my side of the bed.
Every night, I debate whether to simply let him sleep next to me or attempt to put him back in the crib. He's so...NOISY, you see, that having him in our room means I have to listen to a non-stop stream of grunts and coos and whimpers and I jerk myself awake at every single one, so most nights I get up and carry him back to his room, feeling a slight twinge of guilt over making Jason get up when I might as well have gone in there and nursed in the rocking chair in the first place. But the DEAL, WHICH WE HAVE, is admittedly less about the practicality of shared responsibility and more about me not looking over at my husband's peaceful sleeping form multiple times a night and being consumed with a murderous, jealous rage.
So back in the crib around 3:30 am, and back up for more milk at 5:30, at which point I am beyond caring about his snuffles and noises and plop him down to sleep between my legs, as he seems to doze very nicely with my thigh as a pillow, and try to grab one last hour or two of sleep before the other boys wake up and it's time to start the day for real.
This morning, though, he woke up, fussing, and I pulled him close. His eyes were shut, his mouth blindly rooting, but in the split second before he latched on he opened his eyes and looked at me. And gave me a wide, crooked, and unmistakable smile.
You're welcome, baby.
(And thanks. I needed that.)