Miracle Drug

29 08 2013

This week, baby-sleep has been even more tricky and elusive than normal, and normal, at the intersection of super-light sleeper and developmental-milestone-chaser, has never been either predictable nor restful. Three of my last four nights have netted me less than four hours’ sleep, all of those composed of smaller hunks (2 hours here, a half an hour there, etc); last night it was closer to three.
Unsurprisingly, then, I spend a lot of time standing in the dim blue light of her wave-maker watching the baby’s face beside the crib, either rocking the wee girl in my arms (as she grows heavier by the day, and harder to hold) while singing or shushing or leaning over to rock or pat her body as she curls on the mattress, halfheartedly trying to learn to depend on only her own body to build that bridge from wakefulness to the dreamlands.
Tonight I tried to put her down early, respectful of both her long night last night and her single, too-short nap today, and by the time I won the fight it wasn’t really early anymore, but I decided to count the victory anyway and celebrate with ice cream. Half an hour later, spoon in mouth (I dawdled getting there, feeding the cats, locking up doors, putting a few of our thousands of constantly straying Things where they belong), I was called back to my post by the warbling distress call of a baby waking up already sitting up, disoriented and frustrated, and for that matter, she realizes, hungry, as she fell asleep before making it to Boob 2.
So the ice cream went back in the freezer, and I returned to the dimness, the rhythmic static-sounds of the electronic ocean, the everlasting neck-crick of nursing, rocking, swaying. And as I swayed there, watching that artificial-starlight-tinted little face that I realized had fallen asleep a while ago, holding the warm, sleeping tumble of her puppy-like toddler limbs against my body, in total disregard for the over-familiarity of the tableau or the sleep-deprived ennui I’m prone to on weeks like this, I got a wave of the full-on rush of it, the miracle drug (not a drug that works miracles–what if that’s what the song is trying to sketch out instead: the chemical thrill that accompanies recognition of the miraculous?).
It’s the most common sort of miracle there is, really; babies “just happen every day.” And that doesn’t make it an iota less miraculous. Because holy guacamole, people. I made that human. In my body. And now she holds my hand and makes me laugh on purpose and rages at me and brings me gifts to enact forgiveness and feeds me morsels of her favorite foods and sleeps–miraculously again–in my very arms, trusting and safe and small in the big big world. She’s still got a bit of the newborn head-scent left, the one Bono sings about (“the songs are in your eyes”), but she doesn’t need it any more. The magic, the tap right into the mainline of the miraculous, is working just fine on its own.

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