Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sleep, baby, sleep

You closed your eyes slowly, your little arms and feet stopped struggling. And you nodded off to sleep. I watched you, our faces mere centimeters apart. I could feel you breath, soft and warm, brush against my nostrils.

It was over a hour since you started crying. Your shrill tore through the air and my sleep apart. Time to get up again, for your bi-hourly feed. Stirring from sleep I felt my head ache, and my eyes sting. Sleep disturbed is worst than not sleeping at all. I stumbled into the kitchen and prepare your cocktail. A shake here and there, and it was ready. You kept on screaming, like nothing I’ve heard before. Somehow as you grew, your volume did too.

I cuddled you in my lap, cupped you little head with one hand, with your little back and legs leaning against my thigh and leg. Your face was contorted in anguish, as your mouth opened and shut like a babbling fish, only fish are silent, and you let out heart-rending cries of distress. Quickly I fumbled for the bottle and slid it into your beckoning mouth. The screaming disappeared, and just as quickly a face full of pleasure appeared.

You sucked on the plastic bottle intensely, and I could hear the chugging sounds go down your fragile throat. You continued drinking, delighting in the flavour and the flow of milk as it filled your empty stomach. Sometimes your eyes would narrow to a slit, as if you had become drunk and drifted off to sleep, but as soon as I pull on the bottle, your eyes would brighten again, and your lips would continue sucking.

You drank and drank, with milk sometimes overflowing from the rims of your little lips clutched around the bottle and flowing down your cheeks. I was scared that you would choke on the milk, so sometimes I removed the bottle and straightened you up so that I could pat you on the back and make you swallow better. But each time I did that, you would crumple your face in spite and frustration, swing your arms around wildly, and then start shrilling. It hurt me to see you cry, every time. It hurt to know that perhaps something I did or did not did made you, this miraculous little being in my lap, cry.

You were not cooperating. Your head swayed back and forth, sideways and shook like you were high on anguish and pain. I knew you were in pain…perhaps from drinking too fast and too much too quickly, that it felt uncomfortable swallowing. You let out numerous loud sounding farts, and I could feel the rumble and explosions in your stomach and diaper. I tried to comfort you, pat you softly in the back, whisper soft words into your ears, kiss you on the forehead, stroke you on the head and on what little hair you have…but nothing helped. I even lifted you up, placed you on my shoulder, and together we flew to the hanging butterflies, but that didn’t help either. You were restless, unhappy, hurting and confusing me.

For a couple of moments I felt myself loose patience. I felt I wanted to just leave you there and let you be, let you cry and shrill to your heart’s content….but I couldn’t. Your jerked your head up and down like a loose spring, your little arms and hands fought and scratched like a wild cat in captivity and your feet kicked invisible footballs you saw on my stomach. Then I saw the gaze in your eyes. It captured the dim glow of the lamp brightly, and again I saw my own reflection in your bright pupils. What happened to the quiet and calm you a few days before? Was I as unruly and loud as you when I was a little baby? Did I wreak terror upon my parents and leave them slumbering in the middle of the day and shaking from exhaustion in the middle of the night? And compassion took over me, as the frustration and tiredness subsided. However more you struggled and fought, you are only a baby. It’s not your fault to wake up at unholy hours and feel hungry. It’s not your fault to scream and cry whenever you feel uncomfortable. It’s my duty to find out what’s wrong with you, and to take care of you. Because you are a baby.

As soon as I slid the bottle into your beckoning mouth again, the crying would immediately stop, and the sucking sounds would continue. This went on, and on and on, and on. Ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes…eventually after more than an hour of continual struggle, of trial-and-error, of trying to figure out what you wanted, what position you felt comfortable in, you finally relented. You had somehow tired yourself to sleep.

I placed you softly on the bed, covered you little body and little arms with your little blue blanket. I lied down next to you, and watched you. A slight snoring echoed next to us as your mum lay fast asleep.

I watched you, and was touched again by you. You closed your eyes slowly and your little arms and feet stopped struggling. And you nodded off to sleep. I watched you, our faces mere centimeters apart. I could feel you breath, soft and warm, brush against my nostrils.

Sleep overcame me too.

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