“Eric? Eric…” continues Laura.
“aheummm???” I reply, half muffled, my face buried in the sheets and a warm, soft pillow. The bed was so warm.. I reach my arm out and the air in our room was bitterly cold compared to the temperature under the covers.
It is 3:00 A.M. and Laura has just finished nursing Mauldin and is ready to take on the slumber beast. I finally figure out what is going on and I immediately sit up.
“Can you take him?” she said. “Every time I try to swaddle him he breaks out in a fit and cries.”
At this point, in the wee hours of the morn, I really cannot function. As much as I would like to force a response to form; I can’t. I, in turn, nod yes with my eyes closed and arms outreached.
“Thank you, sweetheart.” Laura says in a loving whisper… and a kiss on my scruffy right cheek.
I start rocking as I take Mauldin, in my arms, and immediately put him over my right shouldler… I know if I do this if he has any burping to do then this is when he may do it. Sure enough, the little booger busts out a tiny, but for him, quite meaningful release. I continue to pound lightly on his lower back and alternate the love pats with an upward rubbing motion. I have no idea if this really does anything, but from all the other mom’s and dad’s I’ve watched in the past this tends to soothe the child in some shape or form. I take that he is slipping off into dreamland as I hear little squeaks emerge from out of nowhere!
It sounds sort of like a little puppy… adorable, I know. One day his squeak will disappear and only leave the crying and annoying wimpering… until that day I gladly accept that my son has a squeaker.
I leave him balanced on my shoulder while I take one of his cotton receiving blankets and lay it out on my side of the bed… I have learned from watching Laura, the best swaddler, ever, (sorry Charles) and take a corner and fold it down ever so gently. The amount of receiving blankets we own is staggering and it seems as if I am using a different one every day. Tonight this blanket is white with blue, red, and yellow polka dots… not my favorite one, but it was 3 AM and I was not going to the nursery and risk him waking up so I could have an aesthetically pleasing swaddle blanket that I know he will end up peeing on.
Mauldin, still on my shoulder, begins to snore, lightly, but still snoring, nonetheless. I know this because his face is turned towards my ear… I calmly bounce up and down as to keep him in motion… Mauldin, for some reason, loves to keep moving. “He likes to move it, move it!” LOL! I reach my right hand back and place it below his neck and with my left hand I place it firmly over his hips… I do this because this is where the positioned holds him when we place him in the cradle. The cradle we use is one that was passed down from my wife’s two sister’s… it originally belonged to out nephew, Drew, but he, of course, grew out of it, so next on the list was our niece, Annagrace, and now it’s Mauldin’s turn. I, certainly, do look forward to the day we can return the wooden wonder; however, it will be bitter sweet because it will mean our son is growing up… I am not sure we are ready for him to graduate to his crib just yet… I have become quite accustomed to our son’s late-night shenanigans.
I did finally get Mauldin swaddled good and comfy, and now comes the hard part… the part when I have to move him from my arms to the motionless cradle that sits on the otherside of the room. Our room doesn’t seem that large, but when you have a newborn who has just fallen asleep and not yet in the REM state walking across a room can be quite difficult. I am not sure why, but even a small creak from the wooden floor can cause his little eyes to pop wide open and I am back to square one.
I make it over to the cradle and sure enough the little beast awoke. I was not sure at first because the light in our room is so dimmed at this point and my eyes are so tired I was not sure what I was seeing. I look down at Mauldin, real close up, and notice his eyes are in a dead-lock with mine. It was as if he just wanted to say..
I kiss him on the forehead and follow up with a light “Shhhhh.”
I rock back and forth, front to back in a rocking horse motion and then switch it up to sway right to left… It is beyond me how he doesn’t get motion sickness from all my movement, but it seems to put him right at ease. The room has a chill in the air, a curious chill as if a ghost was standing next to me while I rocked our babe back to bed. I am curious as to how my body was retaining its heat! The my skin could feel the obvious cold, but why was I not shaking? Why wasn’t I… well, cold? Was I so tired I couldn’t distinguish the difference between hot and cold? Was my body so exhausted it had turned numb? Mauldin certainly wasn't cold... he was so wrapped up there was no way... besides he sweats when he sleeps. I know my feet were hot because my feet would stick to the floor if I was in one place too long while rocking. The sound of me pulling my foot up would make a deafening sound that I was sure would wake Mauldin. I decided to back up and stand on the rug that is placed under out bed…
I look over at the clock and it is now 3:28 AM. In my mind I talk to myself and decide…. “self, you are going to rock him for five more minutes and then put him down.” Then I rethink my stupidity… I look down at my son and his eyes are closed. How long had I been talking to myself in my mind? How long had I been going back and forth on what I would do? While I was striking a compromise with myself Mauldin had, again, fallen into the land of nod. Can I place him in the cradle and not awaken the savage beast? One, two… three… I place him down, tightly swaddled and not a peep… not a squeak… and eyes are still tightly shut. I take this as my confident cue to crawl away, slowly but fervently. I make it to my side of our bed and creep under the covers, which are now frightenly chilly. Now I feel cold? What is up with that?
Laura reaches over and her arm brushes across my chest and she rests her hand on my right shoulder… she says… “why are you so cold?”
“I am not sure…” I whisper “I was hot two seconds ago.”
Laura, pulls herself closer to my side… I can feel her playing footsy and then she runs her hand down my leg and rubs back and forth, on my thigh, trying to cause some skin on skin body heat to emerge.
“Thank you,” I say.
I am taken back to another time in our lives… but while my mind began to wander…
The beast emerged from his sleep… Laura grabs the monitor, from her bedside table, and clicks the top of it to see the real-time screen to check on what he was up to.
“He has busted out of his swaddle.” Laura said.
“Fine.” I reply while throwing back the covers and walk over to our restless babe. I reach over and put his little squirming arms back inside his blanket and rest my hand over his chest. “Shhhhhh….”
He quiets down almost immediately. I look over at the clock and it is almost 5 AM. Where has the time gone? I wondered.
I rush over back to my side of the bed and slide over to Laura hoping to return right back to where we left off…
“I re-swaddled the beast!” I quietly whispered in my wife’s ear.
“Laura…” I say again… she was asleep. I take a deep breath and roll over and reposition the pillow under my head… I look up at the clock… In it’s yellowish green light emanating from our armoire: 5:15 AM. I feel like I can’t win.. the clock just keeps on ticking… So, there I am… lying wide awake while my wife and son are sound asleep. Well, my only consolation was that I got Mauldin to sleep… I did not need help from anyone… I did it myself. I think that is pretty cool – and certainly worth a gold star… or a cookie!