I wish I could nap. I know people who take power naps. They just find a spot to sit, lean back and poof, a ten minute power nap. Right. Ten minutes of that would get me nothing but a kink in my neck and scratchy eyes. And I have tried, because napping is something that would come in handy for, let’s say, the parent of a problem sleeper (shouldn’t that really be nonsleeper?)
Briar was, and continues to be, a challenge in the arena of sleep. And it is an arena, sometimes we give the greatest Greek spectacle a serious run for its money with the late night histrionics. I have been unwilling to let her cry it out, though we did try it a few times. I ended up in the fetal position with body wracking sobs. I think Sean assumed the fetal position as well while he tore out bits of his hair. Sometime around 15 months she did start sleeping. It was a revelation. Before that the only times we could really count on her sleeping were Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10 when Sean would hold her on his chest for a nap. He’d tell me they were going to nap and I would let fly a derisive snort. Sleep, sure. But sleep she did, and so did he.
They would lay on the sofa, bathed in the late morning sun, a blanket covering them, Briar’s perfectly pudgy little hand upon Sean’s chest, one foot poking out of the blanket with a sock dangling from her toes. The look on Sean’s face was always a blend of satisfaction and I told you so. I envied him that time, not just the sleep, though I would have loved that too. I longed to have Briar rest with me like that. Watching the two of them, the rhythm of their breathing, the similarity of their profiles brought me to tears more often than not. Now it is Avery on Sean’s chest. Her dark hair catching on his weekend beard, her hands, so different from Briar’s, occupying that familiar place against his chest as her face burrows in the blanket. He has the same beatific look. I am so grateful that Sean has this time with the girls. Yet I still feel a deep longing to have that chance to disappear into the whisper of a baby’s sleeping breath.
This weekend Sean took Briar up for a nap. While he was putting her down I held Avery. It was an endlessly dreary day, with fog and mist so thick you couldn’t see across the street. I slipped into Sean’s leather chair as Avery snuggled into my chest to nurse. Looking out the window I felt a chill. I pulled a blanket over Avery and wrapped another ’round my neck and shoulders. My lids grew heavy but I knew I couldn’t possibly sleep, I waited for Sean to come back. Avery rubbed her fingers against my neck, I pressed my lips in her hair, while the sound of cars passing through puddles whirred outside. The room grew darker and I let my eyes close. Just for a minute I thought. Avery continued nursing as I lost myself in the waves of her breathing, the chill slipped away as my body warmed from her body out. I opened my eyes and all was dark. Avery still slept on my chest, the fog lifted and street lights shone on the wet pavement. I shivered as she stirred, closing my eyes to etch the moment forever in my mind.
Sitting here tonight I can still feel her in my arms, still see the mist as I slipped away in the whisper of her breath.