The clock says it is 3:30AM; the house is dark and quiet. Kip is snoring softly across the room on the couch. I can hear the sheets rustle in our bedroom down the hall as BD turns in his sleep. This child that we created rests peacefully in my arms, her belly full of milk from my body. In the glow of the nightlight I can see her long eyelashes grazing the curve of her chubby cheek. Her tiny hand is gripping tightly to my thumb, the rest of her body swaddled and tucked snugly against mine. I could put her down now; she is sleeping soundly. But I don't; I hold her and rock, enjoying this time when it's just the two of us. Sometimes I softly sing her a lullaby - the same lullaby my mother sang to me; sometimes I whisper to her - I tell her how glad I am that she is mine, how happy she makes her daddy and me, how we will always, always love her; sometimes I just sit silently in the dark - watching her chest rise and fall with each breath.
When she first stirs in her bassinet, I roll over and glance bleary-eyed at the clock - didn't I just feed her? How can she be hungry again already? When am I ever going to sleep through the night? I close my eyes again and hope that she settles herself and drifts back to sleep. But she continues to stir and fuss, so I know she needs me. I get up and slip on my jammie pants and lift her out of the bassinet. I swear she is heavier now that when I laid her down a few hours ago. She is growing so fast. I snuggle her against my body and we shuffle down the hall to the rocker in the den. I whisper to her as we walk - it's okay, baby girl. Mama's here; Mama's here. As she begins to nurse, my mind starts to race - all the things on my to-do list, my indecision about returning to work, all the wrong parenting decisions I'm probably making - everything seems so much more dire in the middle of the night. She finishes nursing and sighs contentedly; she stares up at me with those beautiful blue eyes - BD's exact shape and my exact color. I rock and pat her back as her eyes slowly close. The clock says it is 3:30AM; the house is dark and quiet.