The Deep Dark Hours

Posted: September 13th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop | No Comments »

Pre-Kate, one thing I heard mothers talk about that I was sure was complete crap was that in the middle of the night they’d wake up moments before their babies needed to nurse. That there was some weird groovy connection between them that they just naturally operated in synch that way.

It’s not that I thought those women were lying per se, maybe more that it was unlikely that I could ever muster something so fine-tuned. I mean, I’m the one who’s sneezing and hacking for five days before I get the first inkling that ‘Oh! Maybe I’m getting sick!’ I guess I’ve come to accept that there’s a missing link or two in my mind-body connection.

So I was stunned when Kate was an infant and I found myself–the woman who takes pride in the fact that I never get up to pee at night and sleep deeply on airplanes, lumpy couches, and alongside train tracks–waking up suddenly in the middle of the night, only to hear Kate seconds later squirm around in the bassinet and start her soft “ah ah ah” feed-me noise.

I felt a huge rush of belonging. I was part of that super-connected Mommy-baby club. I was normal!

I haven’t asked other mothers about this, but with the second baby I think I was less attuned to those wake-ups. Or maybe just less thrilled by them. In fact, Mark and I had forgotten what noisy sleepers newborns are, and in Paige’s first nights home managed to tune out the menagerie of wheezing, retching, and choking noises that might have alarmed us with Kate. With Paige we just rolled over, dragging our pillows over our heads.

These days Paige is decamped down the hall in her own room, and for a while I needed a monitor to be sure I’d hear her wake up. But I’m on the verge of tossing that onto the garage sale pile. When Paige gets up in the night now, the monitor first picks up the rustle of her moving around in the crib. Then she starts in with her alarmingly loud monotone vocalizations.


You’d think she has a little bullhorn in there.

And hey, it works. Around here, nighttime–and especially early morning–is Operation Don’t Wake Up Kate. I mean, if Paige gets up at 5:30, I can stick a boob in her mouth, whip her around in the rocking chair a bit, and eventually coax her back to sleep, if only for a precious hour. If Kate were to be awakened at that hour, after several rounds of walking her back to bed and pleading with her to “Please lie down and get some more sleep, it’s not morning yet, honey,” Mark or I would eventually find ourselves blearily assembling the 101 Dalmations floor puzzle in the living room, while Kate launches into her endless waking stream of banter. (“This is fun, right Mama? We got this puzzle from Ari’s yard sale, right? He’s a big boy. Where do you think this piece goes, Mama?”) Not exactly how I like to spend my pre-dawn time.

Of course, I have no one but myself to blame for my daughters’ excessively talkative natures.

So, when Paige starts her middle-of-the-night blaring babble, exhausted and cozy as I may be, I dive for the door and stumble down the hall to grab her. Even though we go through this, well, every night, I still always expect that once I’m in the room with her and start frantically, hopefully-soothingly hushing her, she’ll pipe down. But even when I pick her up she’s still at it, and at the same top notch. That girl’s got a story to tell, and when I enter the room there’s not even a pause or flicker of recognition that she’s got company. “EHHHHHHHHHH. iiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeee UH?? EEHHHH EHH. LAAAAA!!!”

Last night I was just settling into bed with my book. I’d even read a page or two, and was relishing it, since it seemed I might have enough wakeful energy to read one or two more pages. (By Christmas, perhaps I’ll get through the chapter!) And then Paige started in. An odd time for her to awaken, before Mark and I have even gone to sleep. So, feeling sorry for myself that my simple-pleasure Friday night was being interrupted, I tossed my book on the pile of also-barely-read magazines and ambled to her room.

What’s incredible is how quickly my maternal chagrin can turn into a near-weeping lovefest. I picked up Little Miss Loudmouth and thought about the time not long from now when I wouldn’t be able to hold her to me in one easy swoop. And as we rocked she flapped the blanket I’d snugged around her off her arm and started waving it up in the air. Reaching for my face, swatting at my hair, and eventually settling her pudgy paw awkwardly behind her back where she could grip my arm. It’s those kinds of things that reel you back in when you’re parental reserves are hitting rock bottom.

But I’m no fool. I’m already bracing myself for the day 16 years from now when Paige storms out of the house screaming that she hates me because I’ve refused to give her $800 to fly to LA for the weekend with her 21-year-old creepy deadbeat boyfriend so they can go to a beach party that Skylar’s mother is letting her go to, then stay at guy-who-should-be-dating-someone-his-own-age’s cousin’s house, where there’s allegedly adult supervision. Riiiiiiiiight.

I guess when that day comes I’ll just have to comfort myself with the thought that there was a time when she was just seven months old that Paige gave in willingly to a nice long cuddle, and I was the one she saved all her best stories and secrets for.

No Comments »

Leave a Reply