This morning your little brother awoke at 4am. Normally, he is an excellent sleeper; however, he currently has a cold. So I've been up since 4am but I'm okay with it.
This is not to say that I enjoy waking up ninety minutes before my normal, unnatural and inhumane wake-up time. I like to sleep. I enjoy it. But this is to say that I noticed something this morning.
Eyes barely open, I scooped him up from the pack and play next to our bed. Yes, he still sleeps in our room at six months old. My goal is to evict him before college. I'm semi-confident it will happen.
He was sniffling and half-crying, eyes closed, searching his thumb. "Maybe he'll go back to sleep," I tell your father as I lay him on the pillow between us. His eyes open and he beams up at me, the best little baby sounds erupting from the best, biggest smile.
"No such luck," I mutter in the dark. And what I noticed was that I wasn't upset. I was actually smiling too.
Maybe it's for the most obvious of reasons. Of course I realize how lucky I am to be awake at 4am, pulling snotty, chubby fingers from my unwashed hair. How could I not be grateful to still be three sizes up? Barging through Kohls at 8:00 at night in an oversized sweatshirt and pajama pants with a baby attached to my hip...because I'm still a size ten six months later and I'm going to buy pants that actually fit.
Of course I remember the nights when there was no one to wake me. I remember when early evenings were free for prime-jogging time, when I'd have given anything to be tied to a bath or a bottle. And so it's easy to assume that I'd be grateful for a baby, for any baby really. And I am--- so very grateful for this living, breathing baby boy that I can hold in the dark way too early, but I owe him more than that.
I don't want to discount the appreciation that I have, merely for his every breath. During all of his many, many ultrasounds I was always shaking, waiting for them to tell me that his heart was still beating over all else. The tech would breeze through the measurements, abdomen and femur size and length, heart chambers and head circumference. Once, we were nearly twenty minutes in when I finally asked if there was a heartbeat. She looked at me like I was crazy, but I needed to hear it. Every scan. Every time.
It's just that he has given me so much more than some tangible reminder of everything a baby should be, more than anyone else ever could.
There is a gratitude that I share with only him, so sacred and unique. And his eyes can quell so much and ignite so much. And when I stare at him at 4am I can feel nothing else but that. I am nothing but awestruck. Completely awestruck and ruined for every flabby ounce and fold. For what he is and will become and for what he's made of me. And when I try to explain it to other people I never can.
For the longest time there were so many "No's."
No problems. No issues. No worries.
I'm sorry, there's no heartbeat and no, she won't be coming home.
No answer. No plans. No point.
No second line. No guarantee.
And I can only explain the way I feel when I look at him, as the quenching of some infinitesimal part of me that still believes in yes.
And no matter what he does or where he goes, this will never change. I will always look at him and I will always hear it. And he will always be the pulse that came from mine. The one that clung to the most darkened, fading sound and who forced it from the stands. Made it loud again.
He is the debt I could never repay, with the massive blue eyes and the smile to stir me. Over and over and as long as I live, I look at him and I believe.
I look at him and I'm awake.