Some small thing — maybe a gentle rustling, or an ESP-like wave of energy, or a swift punch with a little fist — awakens me. However she did it, the baby woke me up. I open one eye only — two would be a commitment to waking up — a commitment I’m not willing to make.
In the eerie green light from the LED desk lamp on the dresser that acts as a nightlight, I am able to see her. Is she on her stomach? This is the first thought. But, no, she is not. Lying on her back, she is, as always, with arms outstretched and starting to flap. Her legs under our blanket are starting to kick. The window of opportunity is closing. If I don’t act soon she’ll wake up and it’ll all be over.
A cry will lead to standing, which will lead to waking, and this must be avoided. Pull baby belly-to-belly, maybe just a cuddle will lull her back asleep. No, her mouth is open and rooting like when she was a newborn. I am wearing a nursing tank so it’s easy to take a side down. I feel both breasts and prepare to offer her the fullest one.
Oh, no, the fullest is on the side furthest from her. She already drank from the side closest to her. Will this require me to wake the sleeping man and switch sides? No, I think. Must angle my body so I’m more on my stomach. Now pull baby close.
Her eyes are still closed. My eyes are starting to strain because I’ve only allowed one to open this whole time. Mustn’t cross over to the waking world. Must return to slumber. This is only a brief moment in between. Resist the urge to look at the clock. Resist!
Pull baby closer. I offer her a breast and she takes it. Relief. At this point I am noticing how uncomfortable I am. With one eye and one free arm I grab the Total Pillow, a flower-shaped drugstore novelty item I received as a white elephant Christmas gift. I stuff it under my head and sink into those miniature chemical BBs that if swallowed would cause harm to children and household pets.
As I sink in, I allow both eyes to close for a brief rest. The milk has let down and I both hear and feel baby’s drinking get stronger, heavier, then lighter, slower. I stop hearing the rhythmic music of swallowing. Slower still until she’s just pacifying. One eyeball is again needed.
I pull away gently but she holds on, fighting to keep the comfort in her mouth. A couple more tries and I get the breast back, covering my nipple with the nursing pad and tank top, but not bothering to re-hook it. This must be done with precision and care so as not to touch the sleeping baby.
Finally, I close both eyes and bask in the symmetrical comfort it brings. Thanks to the magic cocktail of hormones just released, I fall back asleep.