I awake to the familiar sound and fumble on the nightstand for my phone to check the time.
Ugh. 4:39. AM.
Like so many other early mornings, I groan as I drag myself from the warmth of my bed and make my way across the house, careful not to kick, step on, or trip over any stray toys that may have been left out. I roll my eyes again at the neighbors behind us, who insist on leaving their back porch flood light on every night, though I am a bit thankful for the glow it casts in my house.
Pausing just outside her door, I rub my groggy eyes and listen for more sounds that tell me she hasn’t gone back to sleep on her own.
She sees me as I enter the room, and her cries soften as she clings to me when I pick her up and give her a small hug. She gets impatient while I go through the motions, automatic after so many nights, of changing her diaper and zipping up her jammies. As I awkwardly situate us into the glider, she knows what’s coming, and her impatience grows but is quickly pacified as she begins to nurse.
I lean my head back and rock the creaking glider slowly, wondering how long this will take. I’m so tired, and all I can think about is sliding back into my warm, comfortable bed. I barely even notice when her hand, always reaching up to sweetly explore my facial features or tug at my collar, drops down to rest on her side. I have no idea how long we sit there, dozing together.
Suddenly I’m startled awake by the feeling of her pulling away. I look down to see that she has rolled onto her back, snuggled amongst the blankets I have in my lap to keep us both warm. She’s sound asleep, her little arms are thrown upward, resting near her head, her mouth a little more than slightly open. Her long eyelashes rest peacefully on her smooth porcelain cheeks.
I take her all in. She’s so much bigger than the little baby I brought home eleven months ago, yet still so small in my lap. She’s growing so fast, and soon these long nights of interrupted sleep will be a thing of the past, as I have often hoped.
But this moment is different. I force my tired eyes open so I can gaze at her sweet sleeping face, so perfect in the darkness. I take in the size of her little body stretched across my lap. I relish in each warm exhalation that softly sweeps across my face.
Suddenly I don’t care so much about going back to my warm bed to finish my night’s rest. I’m content to stay here as long as she will let me.