Three months and one day.

8 AM.

The boy slept last night but I didn’t. Some summer nights this happens. I fell asleep early, while nursing him in my lap on the couch and then dozed with him on me. Eventually B. took him and got him into bed and I thought I would go too but wanted to stay in the wife space of the living room verses the mother space of our bedroom. I lay on the couch under the fan while B. meandered the internet and then he read aloud to us from The Alchemist, which we have both read. This time though the book is causing him some stress and that’s what had him up in the middle of the night. Me, it was the summer heat and the odd chill that comes from too many hours under a fan and also when I fall asleep early and don’t actually get into bed, it’s often like this, a chance for deep sleep that passes and then doesn’t return for many hours. Sleep can be like this for me; a bit jealous, a bit vindictive.

An insomnia night is much more high stakes with a babe but I repeated my old mantra, passed to me from my grandmother, “Even if you can’t sleep, just try to rest.” I tried to rest, though from some weird shifting in my vagina I always feel like I have to pee at night.  I’m trying to remember to do a set of kegels every time I nurse but for some reason I only remember to do this during the barely conscious, middle of the night, sessions.

After an interlude of smiling, wiggling wakefulness (which is his typical morning way) the boy fell back asleep on my chest this morning, while I was standing and swaying on the top of the stoop. While standing there I imagined my father walking up and looking at me from the bottom of the stairs. I smile and put a quieting finger to my lips and then invite him in with a tilt of my head. We climb all the way up because B. is still sleeping and then I ease the boy into the rocker.

“Are you hungry?” I ask my dad. “I can make you some eggs.”

I put on the coffee, and we sit down under the fan.

“Why did you name the boy Rafael?”, he asks. (It was his father’s name first and in my mind he is currently mad at me for using it. I have no idea if this is true or not. I haven’t heard from him though, since the boy, since Rafael, was born.)

“Because that was his name,” I tell him, and it’s the kind of answer my father likes and he smiles.

I got no further in the scene because a garbage truck was coming down the streets and the squeal of the air brakes tends to wake the boy up. I went back inside the house, and then to the bathroom mirror to take a peak at the cuteness of him asleep on me. He was stunning of course, but then I looked at my own face too and held my own gaze. I saw there a tired and beautiful woman.

6 1/2 Weeks.

I was wrong. Sleep is everything.

Best not to think this sentence:  “All I need is one full night of sleep.” Because it can only be followed by this one: “You’re not going to get that for a long, long time.”

I thought I could outmaneuver all those sleep warnings. I thought I could break down the day/night industrial complex. I thought all it took was the right attitude.

The thing is that I really can’t blame the boy. His needs are too pure. I can’t steal sleep from his wants and rhythms. But from B.? It’s not in the middle of the night, but in the morning, that he can, at times, become my sleep nemesis. I think I do for him too, but I don’t want to assign him my own character defects. It is he that has the power to give me more sleep. He who can take the boy for a walk. He who can pace with him upstairs while I fall back asleep for that precious hour more. I would like to say that I think graciously of his needs in these moments but the laws of scarcity apply and sometimes, well sometimes if sleep were money I’d rob a small child of their candy fund just to get more of it. These are the moments when I glimpse the borders of my own basic kindnesses.

I’m immensely disappointed about all this. Not the tiredness itself, but to have fallen into the most obvious of new parent modes. Also, yesterday we ran into another set of parents whose babe is only two weeks older than ours and they get six and seven hour stretches and I walked away from that conversation saying to B., “We need to get serious about a bedtime ritual.”

Evening as it is now is something that comes on us suddenly. The day moves along at a meandering pace; morning and afternoon seeping into each other until suddenly, as if we’ve been dropped over a hidden waterfall, B. and I find ourselves sweaty on the couch at 8 o clock, 9 o clock, 10.  He is bare chested. I’m in my nursing bra with one flap open, a nipple airing out, and the boy, having finally fallen asleep, lies before us unbathed and still in his day outfit. You’d never know it though, looking at him. No signs of the long day show. Instead, he makes sleep look good, lying there, a gorgeous being straight from the cosmos.

We had talked earlier of the movie we would watch. The emails we would send. The random tasks that we’d accomplish with great satisfaction. Instead, we lean gently into each other so as to keep our sweaty skin from touching too much of the other’s. We kiss. Say, “Good job,” with a laugh. And then we assign the first shower, hurrying towards bed, the clock already running down towards the moment when the boy will stir sleepily, stretch, still looking adorable, until, very quickly if not intercepted, he’ll begin howling with all the unmitigated fury of his need to survive. Sometimes, if B. is the one to bring him to me, I think in my hazy sleep that I already have in my arms. I hear his cries, and feel the shape of him in my arms and then fumble around blearily to find him in the covers.

He is fed, and held upright to help with the gas, and then rocked back to sleep, and though I know how the next sleep cycle will end, he gets me every time–the look of him a mighty balm against the raw edge of the interrupted night.