Oh, the things we have thunk
In the dark of the night
While nursing our babies down
Of what we’d be doing
If we weren’t here with them
Held hostage by the fist on our nursing gown
Of things left to do
And things best left undone
And what’s going on in the other room
Of the we we once were
Before we were here
Nursing the spawn of an estranged groom
My daughter still wakes every hour or two (or three or four on really good nights) to nurse at night. And, yes, I know…This too shall pass. It’s all temporary. Everything in life is temporary and nothing more so than the exhausting nights of a new mama. But some nights seem to go on forever.
I function just fine now, used to never more than two hours in a row of sleep. And no matter how tired or frustrated or depressed or indifferent I sometimes get, I have no choice but to keep right on going. She needs me. She needs me to be here now for here. She needs me to sing and play and feed her and dress her and love her no matter what I’m thinking or feeling at the time.
I don’t hide myself from her; I tell her that I’m sleepy and angry and sad sometimes. But I still keep playing and singing and helping her. And usually her inertia and joy and curiosity and warmth have their way with me and I am wholly present with her again oblivious to troubles beyond the current day’s poo-poos and boo-boos.
We zen our way through our days together.
But nursing at night is different. It’s quiet. And my mind wanders. It’s about the only time I have to turn inward, to reflect. Solitude, sort of. Except for the slurp, slurp—and the clawing—and nipping. Did I mention she bites?
Some of the things I have thunk:
· How did I get here? Do I really have a baby? When will the real mother arrive and take over?
· What might my life be like if I’d ________?
· Will I re-pierce my nipples some day when we’re done nursing?
· Will I ever sleep with my husband again? Do I care?
· What did I do with these things before? Were they sexy? Will they ever be sexy again?
· What did I used to do with all that time?
· Will she thank me some day? Will she think I’m cool? Will she want to know who I am beyond being her mama?
· What’s my mama doing tonight? Did she do this? Did she resent it? Have I thanked her lately?
It’s strange, the warping of time and internal dialogue. I’ll follow a thought and drift off to sleep thinking I’ve been laying with her for a few minutes and find it’s been hours and the sun is already coming up. Sometimes we both barely wake and merely roll over for a barely-conscious snuggle-nurse. It’s so much nicer that way than being up on bad nights rocking and dancing as she writhes and wails.
Sometimes I wonder how many of the other mothers I’ve met are doing the same thing at this exact moment. It’s one of the saddest parts of new motherhood that we think of ourselves as all alone in the dark of our nurseries, but so many other mothers are going through the same things out there somewhere. We are not alone.