early morning

Out of the cradle, endlessly rocking

It’s 4 am, also known as time for Daniel ‘s next early morning bottle. By this hour, he is waking up from a 4-hour stretch of sleep after his last bottle. This is my time. I have him from 4 am on. Sometimes it isn’t 4 am. Sometimes it is a little after 3, but you get the point. We sort of have a schedule at this point, but it isn’t rock solid.

But at this hour of the morning, it is only the two of us. He wakes me up with a whimper or sometimes all-out crying if I’ve missed the early warning whimper. Some mornings I drag myself out of bed, barely coherent as I stumble to warm his bottle. I practically doze through the feeding. Other times, like this morning, I seem to spring out of bed fully awake.

After he eats, I change him, re-swaddle him and rock him back to sleep. He loves the “windshield wiper.” I sit up, place him vertically on my legs and sort of jerk them gently left to right in short movements. I watch his eyes roll back and become zombie eyes as the motion lulls him. Often I am treated to gummy grins. I smile back. I know the smiles are reflexes at this point, but I like to think they are a reward for a full, well-fed tummy :-). I rock him like that several times a day. I like to think that it is a workout for my quads.

Once he’s dozed off, he sighs loudly and sort of shudders. I feel his body relax. I gently scoop him up and place him in the Pack N Play, holding my breath to see if sleep holds. Sometimes I have to rock him twice, rarely three times. Them I crawl back in bed to catch two hours of sleep until the next feeding when the entire process starts over, and I keep my fingers crossed that the morning light won’t distract him.

At 4 am it feels like we are the only two people in the world which is silly since there is a sleeping J only feet away and I’ve either fed the three beasties aka cats or hear them scratching at the door wanting their breakfast as well. It’s a nice feeling though. It’s funny how intimate that hour can feel even though I’m trying hard not to cuddle him too much or do anything that will fully wake him up and prevent him from going back to sleep. I whisper to him when I speak. If he could read my mind, he would know I am thinking how beautiful and wonderful he is. I’ll stroke his cheek. I’ll kiss him gently as I lay him down.

I do the feed and rocking ritual several times a day, but there is something about that 4 am feeding that is really special. I wonder if the 4 am feeding will be the one that disappears once his tummy is big enough to hold more, and he starts sleeping for longer stretches. Maybe that’s it. Maybe I know the days of the 4 am feeding are numbered. While I’ll enjoy more uninterrupted sleep, I’ll miss a time when it was the two of us, cocooned in darkness, truly our time.