Holding a sleeping baby can be so rewarding…
I don’t know what it was–a stuffy nose, a potential first tooth, a refused nighttime bottle–heck, maybe even the full moon is to blame!–but last night was tough.
Yesterday evening we went out to dinner with our old couples’ small group, and shortly after we came home to a soundly sleeping baby, Emma Vance started to stir. I knew instantly that it was going to be a long, bad night. I could just feel it. And I was right. (Unfortunately.) Around 11 p.m. it started: Every half hour or hour that would go by, she’d be up, crying out for us hysterically. She seemed hungry and stuffy and just unsettled in general, but each time I’d get her to go back to sleep–for at least a little bit. Then, at 3 a.m., I finally gave in, scooped her up, resolved to hold her for as long as it took. If this was to go on all night, then at least I could keep her quiet so that Ryan could sleep, right? (He does make the money, so this is my small contribution to the family.) So I sat there. For four hours, I sat. My back was killing me, I was exhausted, my legs were numb, but Emma Vance was happy and sleeping for the longest period of the whole night, so I sat and I sat and I sat.
And I thought.
I thought all about our lives and how they’ve changed. I thought about the first night we brought Vampire Baby home. How vivid that image still is in my mind–the one of Ryan holding her in the very same rocker as dawn crept up on us, brand new parents with no clue what to do. I thought about how if this were any other baby in the world I’d be miserable and cursing her. I thought about how this wasn’t just any other baby in the world, how this was Emma Vance, and how I’d gladly hold her ’til kingdom come if necessary. I thought about all of the stories we’ve lived through over the past seven months. I thought about how these moments are so fleeting; in just a couple of years I won’t ever be able to do the privilege of holding her in my lap throughout the night ever again. Then, eventually, I thought about my legs, full of pins and needles…and of how cold the room seemed…and how exhausted I was…and how heavy she was…and how dry my throat felt…
And I started trying to have a telepathic conversation with a sleeping Ryan.
“Ryan. Wake up. I can’t call out to you because I’d wake the baby. I can’t stand up and walk in there because I’d wake the baby. I can’t call you because I left my phone in there. Ryan. RYAN. RYAN! Wake up. I’m so thirsty. Soooo thirsty. You want to wake up and bring your wife a glass of water. Wa-ter. Now. Right now, before she panics. She’s so dehydrated, and she’s taking care of your daughter so that you can get a good night’s rest. Please…help…me…”

(In recounting this one-sided conversation the next morning, Ryan swears he woke up at one point, saw the empty bed next to him, thought, “Oh man, am I thirsty! Oh well, I’m too tired to get up and get a drink of water right now. Time to roll over and go back to sleep…” Geez. All of that psychic energy wasted! :) )
I was almost at my breaking point, contemplating if waking up every half hour or hour would be better or worse than sitting there any longer, and it happened. E.V. sleepily flopped herself backwards a little bit, which awoke her momentarily. She looked up at me with half-closed eyes that widened as big as they could get, trying to take in everything she was seeing. In an instant I saw her recognize me, and she said very clearly and distinctly “Mama.” Then she grinned, closed her eyes shut and was out faster than the whole incident took. Best moment EVER.
It was totally worth it. Up until now she’s been babbling “mama” and “dada” pretty consistently, and we pretend that she’s referring to us by name. And, truthfully, I think she’s learning what those words mean, but Ryan and I always ground ourselves by reminding one another that she hasn’t really shown a distinct, factual understanding of them. She cries out “mama” when she’s upset and whispers “dada” in the mornings before Ryan gets up, but it’s not like she’s ever reached out for one of us and said the correct word, you know? But this was it, folks. It was so innocent and honest. It wasn’t a mumbling of “mamamama;” it was my name. And it was wonderful.
Eventually I gave in, carefully took E.V. into our room to get some water, and made a little seat for me in our master bed to give my legs some relief. At 7 a.m. she woke up for the day, and so I put on my happy face, went downstairs and did our normal morning routine. After her first nap my wonderful husband took her for an hour so that I could pass out FINALLY, and after a day filled with trying to get her back on schedule, she seemed much better at bedtime tonight. 
I do have to say, though, that even if it’s a terrible night again tonight, it’s okay. It might just be the lack of sleep talking, but I’d happily give up my peace and quiet tonight to relive that moment…

The dogs love to trade off keeping us company. :)

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