My daughter gave me a hickey.
Luckily it’s on my arm and not my neck, so I can avoid the “aren’t you a little old for that?” looks.
I was sitting on the couch, peacefully reading and enjoying a glass of wine under the assumption that Isabelle, whom I had just nursed and put to bed, would sleep for at least another three or four hours until she woke up for her first middle of the night feeding.
Forty five minutes after I put her down, we heard rustling on the baby monitor. A glance at the video screen showed her rolling side to side and kicking her legs like a little bucking bronco in her sleep sack.
Tim went upstairs to try to rock her back to sleep. After about 10 minutes, he came back down. She woke up. He tried again – same result. Finally, I went to see if I could muster any mommy magic. After 15 solid minutes of rocking in the bathroom with the fan on – my go to move – she was still wide-eyed awake, staring at me and sucking on her hands. What the heck?! The girl had barely napped all day. How was she not tired?
So, I walked to the top of the stairs and said to Tim – as Isabelle sucked vigorously on my arm, leaving a lovely purple bruise – “I think she might be hungry.” I know – I’m a master of the obvious. But I had just fed her. After Tim warmed a bottle, Isabelle drank it down in about five minutes flat and conked back out.
But she woke two more times in the middle of the night to nurse. After the second feeding, it took me a long time to get her back to sleep and she rewarded my effort by sleeping for 45 whole minutes before waking up for the day at 5:30. Tim got up with her and I crashed, exhausted, for a couple hours.
Remember when I used to write about running on this blog? See, the thing about writing about running is that you actually need to run to have writing material. I haven’t run in more than two weeks. Not coincidentally, my last run coincided with the final day of a glorious month-long stretch in which Isabelle went to bed, slept for five or six hours and woke up only once in the middle of the night to eat.
It was fantastic. I didn’t feel like a walking zombie. I had enough energy to choose running over sleep some mornings while Tim watched Isabelle. I was feeling confident about starting real training at the end of August for my November half marathon. Then Isabelle reverted, waking every two to three hours throughout the night. I figured it was a growth spurt that would only last a couple days. But here we are, 18 days later. Not that I’m counting or anything.
I’m not going to lie. Sometimes it’s frustrating. I miss running. I miss sleeping. I miss not having purple circles under my eyes. Or purple hickeys on my arm, for that matter.
But my best friend, the mother of a two-year-old, reminds me that “everything is temporary.” A whole slew of other mom friends agree, reassuring me that this is normal, that it will pass. One tells me, “Just remember, she needs you.”
That struck me. Because even though my exhaustion often weighs on my shoulders like a heavy blanket in the middle of the night, I must remember that this “needing” won’t last forever. There will come a time – very soon – when Isabelle and I aren’t alone together each night, our hearts beating against each other in the quiet darkness while I comfort her and feed her and then kiss her soft little cheek before putting her back to bed, in total wonder that something so beautiful is actually mine.