1:48 am, says the digital clock, which really means 1:38 am since my clock is 10 minutes fast. I have to pee so I tiptoe out of bed, shut the door behind me, grit my teeth as I flush the toilet, and tiptoe back in bed. Heart beating rapidly, I glance at the baby monitor, fearing that reddish orange light....GREEN! I smile to myself in relief. Our little angel is sleeping soundly and I wonder to myself why in the world I shut the bathroom door considering there was no way on earth he would've woken up to the sound of the toilet flushing, let alone the earth-shattering sound of me getting out of bed.
I settle back down to go back to sleep....Only I can't. My brain won't turn off. I find myself glancing at the monitor again and again, feeling the same rush of relief wash over me each time as I see the green light. I know I probably have a guaranteed 4-5 hours of sleep left and I find myself growing more and more frustrated as I proceed to toss and turn for the next hour or two. Finally I manage to doze back off, only to wake up at least 2-3 more times, heart pounding, certain I hear a baby crying. The green light proves me wrong once again.
Shane's alarm goes off at 4:15. He pushes snooze and cuddles with me for a few minutes. At that point I realize I am not 100% sure I've even slept since I first woke up to pee hours earlier. After Shane leaves I feel more wide awake than ever. I grab my phone and play on Facebook, in attempts to make myself sleepy again. I manage to fall back to sleep sometime between 5 and 5:30, at least that's what the clock said the last time I looked at it.
My eyes fly open and this time I know the cries I hear are real cries. I glance at the clock just before I fly out of bed. 6:48...Good boy! I call the dogs out of the room, dash to the kitchen, turn on the water to get it warm, let the dogs outside, refill my own water cup and check the sink...still running ice cold. Ellis' cries are growing more and more scream-like. I decide to just leave the water running and rush to the nursery to rescue my baby from his distress. Lifting him out of the crib, I feel the heaviness of his soaked diaper. 2 minutes later I have managed to send him into an ear-piercing shriek-fest thanks to a quick, but tortuous diaper change and my lack of giving him what he really wants--food! I carry him to my room and lay him down on his back in the middle of the bed--far away from being able to roll off. I run back to the kitchen and furiously mix him a bottle.
20 minutes later my baby is peacefully sucking his pacifier on my shoulder. He has spit up a large amount of milk all down the front of my shirt and ruined his pajamas. The burp rag I had used to originally prevent this is soaked and now in the laundry hamper. I am beginning to feel very sleepy as I realize my day is just beginning. Suddenly, Ellis' eyes POP open. He looks at me and I say quietly to him, "Hey buddy....Good morning!" My whole morning is made as that little face lights up with a huge, adorable, milky grin. His pacifier falls out of his mouth and he proceeds to coo and smile at me for the next several minutes. I feel as though I could hold him forever, but after a few minutes he starts to get restless. I lay him down in his little napper, which is next to the bed. It is now 7:25 am.
For the next half hour, Ellis plays contentedly in his little bed, gnawing on his fingers, his bib, and his little lion taggy blanket. I listlessly watch early-morning crappy TV and pray that he will go down for a morning nap so I can go back to bed. He fusses a bit, so I rock the napper, watching his eyes get heavy. Yes....that's right, little guy....Just go to sleep, I think to myself.
At last! I hear the rattling sound of his little baby snore. I switch off the TV and the bedside lamp and snuggle back down for more precious sleep. His snores are telltale that he is sleeping soundly. After a few minutes I find myself merely listening to his snoring, rather than trying to fall back to sleep again. I snuggle further down under the covers and try to focus on something else. Finally I manage to doze off. It isn't long before I wake back up again, only to realize the snoring has stopped. I find myself holding my breath as I strain my ears, listening for any other sounds to indicate whether or not my child is still sleeping. I am afraid to move as the slightest sound could wake him if he's in a wakeful stage of sleep. I hear a rustling sound that is unmistakably the noise of my child NOT sleeping. I check the clock and sigh to myself, realizing that my child has slept for a grand total of 20 minutes.
And with that I head to the kitchen to make some coffee.
This is how most of my days begin....and in just a couple of weeks they will begin in a totally different way....and I am going to miss my special time with E each morning. I will even miss the annoyingly short cat naps and the fact that I have not gotten to sleep in even one single day this whole summer (except for one weekend away, but even then I couldn't sleep well). I will miss the endless bottle washing, bib-changing, dirty diapers, the never-ending piles of baby laundry that I never can seem to keep up with....and I will miss him. I will miss him so much it hurts me to even type these words. I'll still see him every day. I'll still get to hold him, feed him, kiss him, rock him, and play with him....only it'll be for about 10 minutes in the morning and 2-3 hours in the evening. That's it. And that's not enough.
But it has to be. All I can do is focus on the blessing of my son and how much he has changed my life for the better. All I can do is realize how much of myself I am missing by not working and embrace the gaining of a routine and a structured day. I can set my sights on my students and getting to know them and form a bond with them. I can look forward to each afternoon when I finally get to come home to my sweet boy and see his smiling face as I greet him. I can find a way to start this new chapter of life--the life of a working mom. Millions do it every single day and I know I can too. And my boy will never have anyone who can love him the way his mommy does, even if she is not by his side 24/7. As much as I want to be with him all the time, I know it isn't possible for our family. And that is okay.
For now...I am just going to enjoy today. I'm enjoying that it is 2:09 pm and my house is quiet. The monitor light glows green as Ellis naps peacefully. The laundry hamper is almost empty, so I get a break today. No dirty dishes in the sink, bottles are clean, bed is made....I can just relax....Until that light turns red. ;)