It was a little earlier than usual, but it didn’t matter. She was cranky and showing signs of being tired (rubbing her eyes and complaining), so we decided it was time to head upstairs.
We went through the same routine we do every night. Daddy carried her upstairs and waited with her in our room while I went into her room, turned on her portable heater, laid out her receiving blanket on the arm of her crib and grabbed a binky, a fresh diaper and pajamas.
She was trying to figure out how to crawl across our bed to get the T.V. remote just a couple feet out of her reach when I walked into the room. Tilly, our cat, as usual, was already pestering her for some love.
Daddy told her good night and kissed her and then I changed her diaper and put her in her pajamas. She complained the whole time, although it was only half-hearted as if she was too tired to put much effort into it. Then I placed her on my pillow and I laid down on my side next to her and whispered that it was time to go night-night. Instantly, she curled into me, her little hand coming to rest on my cheek as soft baby breath caressed my nose.
She turned to look at the T.V. only a couple times, no doubt checking to make sure nothing of interest was on. But she always turned back to me, getting as close as possible to me before finally giving in and drifting off to sleep.
I waited until she seemed really out before plucking her from my pillow and carrying her in my arms to her room and to her waiting crib. She stirred only slightly as I placed her on the mattress, with its animal patterned sheet and surrounding bumper. She turned on her right side–a sure sign that she’s ready to sleep deeply–but just as a precaution, after I covered her with the receiving blanket, I placed a comforting hand on her hip to let her know I was still there.
She was fast asleep.
I went downstairs, anxious to spend some time working on my many craft projects and watching TV with Greg until we, too, decided to retire for the night. But I was only downstairs for about fifteen minutes before a tiny little moan echoed on the baby monitor. Greg and I looked at each other, our breaths held as we waited to see if she was simply turning in her sleep.
Another moan–this one longer and a bit more insistent. And then a whine that turned into a cry. I jumped up from the recliner and started for the stairs, her cry growing in fervor as I went. She needed me.
I found her laying on her back in the crib, binky still poised in her mouth, her eyes fully awake and shining with a smile when she saw me. She kicked her legs and flailed her arms as if to ask me if it was playtime. I tucked the blanket in around her again and leaned down into the crib, enveloping her the best I could without actually climbing into the crib with her.
“It’s okay,” I whispered, the words so quick to my lips because I say them every time she is settling down for a nap or at bedtime. “Mommy’s here.”
She turned on her right side again and grasped my left arm in her two hands, as if to make sure I didn’t leave. And I waited, expecting her to fall off to sleep, but after a moment she turned onto her back and looked up at me with those gorgeous eyes.
“Uh,” she said.
I looked down at this little girl, this baby, who was already over ten months old, but who was still my little baby and I was suddenly overcome with the urge to hold her, to keep her in my arms forever.
“Do you want to rock for a while with Mommy?” I asked her as I scooped her out of the crib and settled into the rocker my parent’s had bought me for one of my baby showers. We started rocking back and forth, but she sat up and stared at the portable fan oscillating back and forth just a couple feet from us. She was fascinated with it and I knew as long as it continued to turn, she would want to stare at it instead of sleep.
I gently nudged her and she rested her head against my chest, her eyes still open as she watched the fan. We rocked. And rocked. I thought her eyes might close, she might drift off to sleep again since the rocking motion was so comforting. After all, it was slowly lulling me; my eyelids were getting heavier and heavier. But she was still awake, her eyes open large as she watched that stupid heater and sucked on her binky.
I was suddenly too tired to keep rocking, to try to get her back to sleep so quickly.This wasn’t working. She didn’t want to fall asleep this way.
I stood up and walked across the hallway to our bedroom, placed her on my pillow again and laid down on my side next to her. Back where we had started. I covered us both up with a blanket and curled my arm around her. She turned on her side, her little body so warm against me as she, almost immediately, closed her eyes and went to sleep. This must have been what she wanted, I thought. And because I was so tired and it was so comfy being there cuddling with my baby, I fell asleep as well.
About an hour and a half later, Greg came upstairs and I woke up when he lifted her out of bed, placed her against his shoulder and carried her into her room. The tiny space next to me in bed was suddenly empty, her warmth gone. But it was okay; I knew she was sleeping soundly in her crib and now Mommy and Daddy could go to sleep too.
**I had every intention of posting my Wednesday Props post last night after Zoey went to bed. But, as you can see, time sort of got away from me. So, the Wednesday Props post will be coming out some time tonight. Probably. Maybe.