Sunday, January 21, 2018

Four Years

Four years ago at this time, I stood in a hospital room, hovering over a sleeping eight pound baby in a hospital bassinet. The nurse had gone, after checking me and the baby over and ordering us to get some sleep—we had, after all, just pulled the most exhausting kind of all-nighter.

But instead of laying down, Barclay and I gravitated across the room to where the baby slept. We stared at him, and at each other, and at the clock, and at him and at him and at him.

"We're supposed to go to sleep?" I said.

Barclay shook his head. "I don't know if I can."

I agreed with him. I was beyond tired, but I didn't know if I could leave the baby alone. The thought of both of us losing consciousness, leaving him in this room while we went wherever people go when they sleep, was terrifying. It felt impossible to me in that moment. I remember having this exact thought: Well, I guess I will never sleep again.

(I wasn't wrong.)

There are feelings so distinct and tangible that you always remember the first time you had them, and this is one that I physically remember right in the pit of my stomach and in the front of my head between the eyes, but could not describe to you, not even with a million words.

But if I had to try, I would put it like this: I wanted to put the baby back.

Because the night before he came, I was able to lose consciousness with relative ease. I mean, I had heartburn, and everything hurt, and all the usual stuff, but I didn't feel like I was leaving anything behind when I closed my eyes. He was tucked away safe in my belly, kicking my ribs and having the hiccups. In my mind, he came with me everywhere I went, including to sleep.

And now, there he was, separate from me, the most vulnerable, breakable, wonderful thing I'd ever seen, and I could no longer surround him. I wanted to surround him.

We ended up sleeping that night, at least a little. I think Barclay sat up for a while. I remember I woke up a few hours in to feed him and didn't rush back to bed right away. And I remember that for months afterward, sleep felt like a trust exercise, every single night, like falling off a table backward and hoping someone would catch me.

And now, four years later, I've just tucked Sully into bed, tip-toed out of his room, and am sitting at the kitchen table. I can see into his bedroom from here. His eyes are closed, his breathing is loud. I'm remembering that feeling again and feeling it and trying to think of how to describe it. I still want to surround him, but as he gets older, that gets less and less possible. Every day and night is still a giant trust exercise.

Anyway. It's bittersweet. It's a lot of feelings. I had a lot of feelings before he came, so can you even imagine being in my head  now?

But we had fun today, celebrating him and trying to explain to him what a birthday even is ("Like, you didn't exist, and then you did, and then you were born. At the hospital. This was the day we met you. Get it?")

Oh, and Barclay and I made drum kits out of cupcakes for him and his cousins... Check check check check me out:

My Sully. What a gift.