Archive for the ‘her bad crazies’ Category

Sufficient Unto This Day

April 22, 2009

Last week, I almost quit blogging. Almost.

I wasn`t going to say anything about it. If I had quit, I would have gone totally silently into that good blogless night. There wouldn`t have been a post angsting about whether or not to quit; there wouldn`t have been a post proclaiming some long goodbye. I was just not ever going to post again. Which, I know, is kind of douchey, but still.

I was not going to post again, because the imperative to post was hurting my heart and making me crazy in a week during which I felt, strongly, that I simply could not post, that it would be wrong to post, that it would be wrong, somehow, to even Twitter all the fears and anxieties that I was struggling to contain. I wanted to write, but my preferred forum for writing was closed to me, or so I felt. I ached to write, to write anything, even just 140 characters proclaiming my fear; my fingers twitched, desperate to tap messages into my phone as we circled Emilia’s bed in the hospital, as we fretted and worried and paced. I am so scared, I typed, I am so scared. And then my fingers retracted their message, backspaced, deleted, and I resumed my pacing, my worrying. What could I possibly accomplish, publishing my fear? And how hollow, how terribly, selfishly, hollow to whine vacantly into the void when others were living and sharing darker fears. Realizing darker fears, the worst fears. What would I be doing, to add my own selfish anxieties to that chorus of pain?

No pain is hollow, of course. Seeing my daughter slumped and incoherent, eyes sunken in dark sockets, skin white and hot, was terrifying and horrible and I felt my anxiety in every moment as a strangling hurt, a terrible pressure against my lungs and throat that threatened to cut off my breath. But that was only my hurt, my fear, and although I know that every parent understands how terrible that hurt and how horrible that fear, it was not the time to share it, it was not the time to reach out. It was simply not the time.

Which invites the question: is it ever the time? This is a rhetorical question, of course, because, yes, yes, there is always a time for expressing and sharing fear or anxiety or sadness or all of these together. If we never shared these experiences, we would not know that they are common, ordinary even. We would not know that pain is something that we all live through. We would not know that it is something that we share. And we would never be able to find community in and through our pain, if we didn`t express it, share it.

But doesn`t sharing the pain, sometimes, just exascerbate it? Doesn’t it become, sometimes, a sort of twisted indulgence, a way of lingering in an ache and prolonging the sensation of hurt, in the same manner as scratching compulsively at an itch, even though it causes us bleed? If I write my hurt, am I expunging it or clinging to it? And if I draw others into my circle of anxiety, does it serve to comfort all of us – by underlining how common the experience – or does it serve to discomfit all of us – by making the experience common, by forcing others to live it, vicariously? Do I want community, or do I want attention? Can these two desires even be distinguished?

My anxiety about writing through my fear last week reduced to these three concerns – that I wanted to write because I wanted to wallow in that fear, that by wallowing, publicly, in my fear I’d be forcing others to experience that fear (in a week when fear and pain were already in too great supply) and that my writing/wallowing might be construed as attention-seeking (look! look! I hurt too! come see my pain!) – and these conspired to shut me down. And so shut down I did: I unplugged my computer and disabled e-mail on my phone and resolved that the only writing that I would do would be with pen and paper and kept entirely private. And then I cried. A lot. Because blogging has, in the worst of times, been a lifeline for me, a way of working through the pain and fear of struggling with depression and with the challenges of motherhood and with the general anxieties and regrets of a life well lived and with the looming spectre of death. And so the thought of abandoning it – of being abandoned by it – was terrifying, gut-wrenching.

And so I decided to not decide. I would simply not write about my pain that week, and hope that I would somehow grow an ability write light-heartedly and humorously so that I might not be so often an agent for spreading dark and gloom across the internets. And then Monday came and Emilia seemed better and so there was something happy to say – Emilia seems better! – and so I opened my computer and said it and the universe didn`t collapse in on itself, so. Baby steps.

I still don`t know how I`ll handle writing about Tanner, whose condition is worsening, and about how I`m going to explain the fact of his inevitable death to Emilia (something that becomes ever more pressing with every question she asks about his disabilities), and about lost siblings and hurt parents and depression and darkness and faith and all those terrible, difficult things that seem to have become my stock in writing trade. I just don`t know. I do know that I will write about them, sooner rather than later, just as I know that I will, someday – later rather than sooner – stop writing this blog. But I`m not going to worry about those things now.

For now, I`m just going to keep writing, and see what happens.

You can tell me, honestly – is there such a thing as oversharing hurt? Do I do it? Do I need – do we all need – to bring less angst and more happy? DOES THE INTERNET NEED MORE UNICORNS? I think maybe.

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Monday, Monday

March 16, 2009

I have typed six paragraphs this afternoon. I have deleted them all. I have deleted them all because they all said the same thing, and the thing that they said was boring and stupid and self-obsessed and whiny and I couldn’t decide whether or not I was willing to indulge in any more self-obsessed whining in this space and so I kept retyping the same blah-blah-blah-tired-malaise-blah crap onto the screen and then erasing that same blah-blah-blah-tired-malaise-blah crap because, really, who wants to read about that? Who wants to write about that?

Bah.

So I decided to spare you my melancholy. Instead, I’ll just direct you to some better reading, and go take a B-complex multivitamin:

1) When grandmothers get mad: my mother, frustrated and angry with the New York Times, lets loose on her own blog. (Yeah, you heard me. She has her own blog now. She needs encouragement, so please visit.)

2) You think you’re stressed out? Marital discord and sexual abuse and frustrations about babies having babies are being discussed over at the Basement. (Remember the rules over there, people: comment nicely. You’re free to disagree with opinions, and tough-love is welcome, but it all needs to be dealt nicely. Civilly. Respectfully.)

3) What do Jim Carrey, Pam Anderson and I have in common, other than a troubling propensity for oversharing? We’re all Canadian. So are all these bloggers. Check out our new project (it’s still, like, totally in beta, but you should still visit, and cheer us on!)

4) Or, just shut your computer and take a nap. That’s what all the cool kids are doing.

Out Like A Lamb

March 9, 2009

I don’t understand how this works, but for some reason, getting away by myself for one night this past weekend seems to have caused me to become even more tired than I am usually. Of course, the fact that getting away for that one night involved flying to New York and attending an event that was by some turns thought-provoking and by others head-exploding (more on that at some later date, when head-combustion is less of a threat to the structural integrity of my psyche) and, in the process, suffering near-intolerable nursing-boob-related pain (relieved only under circumstances that, again, must wait until I am considerably less tired to be explained and discussed) goes some distance to explaining why I am so tired. It does not, however, explain why I feel so emotionally fatigued, why I feel so utterly tapped-out, so completely drained of any will or energy to write/create/stand upright.

Spring is pressing upon my window, and I feel in my bones that the coming season will bring good things (a baby who sleeps through the night in his crib, who takes an occasional bottle – both causes were advanced by my night away – renewed energy for me, renewed spirit, sunshine) but at the moment I just feel limp. Lifeless. Maybe this is just late-arriving winter dormancy; maybe it is just March coming in like a depressed lion. I don’t know.

Whatever it is, it requires that I sleep. And eat, maybe, and try to not worry, for the moment, about finding ways to express things that have hurt my heart or my brain. That, and watch the entire first season of Gossip Girl over the course of an afternoon while eating chocolate and popcorn. I need a day, or two.


And a little mental space to enjoy me my sunshine.

Let Me Know When I Am Done

January 8, 2009

I think that, maybe, I am done having children.

I think.

Maybe.

Very possibly almost certainly.

I’ve been thinking about this for weeks. I’ve been thinking about the fact that our family of four comprises a tidy little unit. I’ve been thinking about the fact that my daughter and my son make such a lovely pair, and about the fact that even though he is still so small they are becoming fast friends and about the fact – the fact – that this is just so lovely. I’ve been thinking that our happy little foursome is so balanced. There is something about us, it seems – it seems – that is complete.

And that completeness is bittersweet. Bittersweet because, I don’t know, who’s to say that we wouldn’t be even more complete with another member to love? I can imagine – albeit in only the vaguest, fuzziest outlines – a future that includes someone else, another girl or another boy who would throw her or his weight into our tidy little apple cart and knock our happy unit delightfully off-kilter, out of balance, wonderfully, joyfully askew.

But then I look at my boy and my girl and my husband – I look at us – and feel something that I imagine is a feeling of completeness and I ask myself, isn’t this enough?

Of course it is enough. Of course.

I don’t want to go through pregnancy and childbirth again. That is, at least, I think that I don’t. Bringing Jasper into the world scarred me, literally and figuratively. You don’t want to go through that again, says my mother when I say – ill-advisedly – that I’m not one-hundred percent sure that we’re done. You can’t go through that again. You just can’t. But she’s wrong, in part. I could go through that again. I don’t want to, but I could. If you’d told me before Jasper came along that his gestation and birth would be so difficult, so emotionally and physically difficult, I would certainly have said that I didn’t want to do it. But were I then to grasp Jasper in my arms and press his soft, chunky self against my chest and feel his little hands explore my hair, my neck, my cheeks, feel his breath on my face, hear his giggle, his coos, I would say to you, I would do it all again. I would not hesitate to do it all again.

And I would not. Hesitate, that is.

But I wonder: do I lie to myself, when I tell myself that I do not want to close off the possibility of a different future, a future with a third? Do I lie to myself when I concoct stories of some hypothetical child, some ghost child, some spirit waiting to be given life and welcomed into our family in a future that I cannot yet comprehend but am loathe to disavow? Do I hold out the possibility of that third child as a means of forestalling my own future, a future that I’ve lost touch with in this, my tenure as a new mom times two? Am I stuck in this identity – this identity that I both love and resent – as a mommy, to the extent that I am compelled to suggest to myself, over and over and over again, that this is who I am, all that I am, all that I can do? By which I mean: am I holding out for the possibility of a third child for the simple reason that there is some part of me – some deep and vital part of me – that is afraid to let go of the mantle of Mommy and march forward in life as me first, Mommy second?

Obviously, I haven’t lost my sense of myself as Catherine – I do identify myself beyond ‘Mommy;’ I do have (fragments) of a life that is not defined by my care of and love for two small children – but my ‘mommyness’ has been a lodestone for me. It has been the thing that directs the compass of my life, that which points here, there, hither, yon and tells me where I am and where I should be headed (building a life with and for my children; building a future with and for my children; changing a diaper; looking for diapers; shopping for diapers). What will I do when I am no longer essential in meeting the minute-by-minute needs of these creatures? What will I be?

There are things that I want to do, versions of myself that I want be, all of which have little or nothing to do with being a mom. It is possible that I am afraid of leaping headlong toward these things, unencumbered by diaper bags and swaddle blankets and slings. It is possible that I am afraid of trying. It is possible that these diaper bags and swaddles blankets and slings are so much security for me: I cannot jump, see, because my hands are full. I would jump, but I can’t. Oh well. C’est la vie.

(It is possible that this is what happens when you go without sleep for over half a year. You start to believe that there are no other worlds beyond this one. You start to fear that you could not not survive in any world outside of this one. You start to go a little – what’s the word? – crazy, and you become attached to your own craziness. Maybe.)

I have a seven and a half month old baby and a three year old girl. I’m going to be ‘Mommy’ for a while yet. It is silly to be nostalgic for this stage of my life, this stage of their lives, when we are still so very much in it. And it is, very possibly, sillier still to fetishize the idea of more children as a means of clinging to this stage. I will, we will, have to be done with it sometime. I can’t be Mommy forever.

So, am I done? I think so. I don’t know.


How do you ever know?

******

Still hoping for contributions to this. It won’t save my nephew, but it will, someday, save some other child, some other nephew, some other mother’s son, and that will make all the difference.

Also, if you’re so inclined, I wouldn’t – as I explained here – object to nominations for one of these. If you’re so inclined.

Look At Me Not Sleeping

November 6, 2008

Update below.

I haven’t slept in four nights.

Which, you know, isn’t totally bad, considering that until about four weeks ago, I’d gone nearly five months averaging only three or four hours sleep a night, every night. New mothers don’t sleep. That’s just a fact.

But when you’ve passed that ‘fourth trimester’ grace period – wherein, it seems, Nature gives you a pass on needing sleep and proper nutrition and enables you to function like a superhero, leaping over the newborn weeks in a single bound, fueled by the nitro-force of a wicked hormone buzz – when you hit the wall, somewhere around week 13, the lack of sleep catches up with you and no amount of cinnamon rolls and double-shot espressos will set you to right. So you set about pursing sleep with a vengeance (so appropriate, that idiom – you chase sleep hoping to tackle it and wrestle it and punish it for so cruelly withholding its gifts) and when you finally get some (oh yeah) through some combination of spousal support and anti-anxiety medication you cling to it desperately, desperately, determined to never let it slip your grasp again.

And then when it does slip your grasp, you go to pieces.

Four nights it’s been; four nights of wrestling a vibrating baby who is development-spurting at the speed of light and spending his nights rolling and crawling oh god help me around his crib – or, when the victory squawking has become too much, in our bed – in pursuit of some invisible gold ring that I assume hovers magically just beyond his reach. Four nights of spending hours trying to get him to just be still, to just chill out, to save the gymnastics and the glee-clubbing until the morning, please oh god please, only to have him settle into something approximating a sleepy calm at the precise moment that the preschooler wakes up coughing and hollering about her nose hurting.

I’m so tired that I can’t see straight. And I just can’t see any solution. Crying it out doesn’t work because he seems to have an infinite capacity for wakefulness and so can outcry, outsquawk, outholler, outlast us with little effort. Bringing him into bed with us doesn’t work because although he’s more likely to take a few sleep breaks from his gymnastics practice when he can crawl up tight against my breast, he never actually stills, and so even though he snoozes while he’s cuddled up against me he also kicks me in the ribs and/or punches me in the head every few minutes and that’s, you know, not conducive to sleep.

The husband does all of the actual getting up, the hovering over the crib, the delivery of child to my side when it seems there’s nothing left to do, but still: I can hear it all, I can feel it all, and not even the Ativan helps when your body is shouting at you to tend to your baby. So what’s next? Do I just check into a hotel for a night or two – seriously, we talked about that last night – to catch up on sleep? Or do I just ride it out? How long can I go without sleep? How crazy will I get?

Mama said knock her out.

(And, and… how long can I go on just barely coping? I have an out-of-control inbox – I am seriously weeks behind in responding to e-mails – and an ever-lengthening to-do list and – worst – a backlog of things that I need/want to write about – my frustrations searching for my long-lost brother, my ongoing struggle to figure out how not to be dominated completely by my nearly three-year old daughter, some thoughts on raising children under the condition of post-modern capitalism, an anecdote or two about politesse as it pertains to penises, etc, etc. My brain is backlogged and cramped and sore and all this sleeplessness is making it worse. Is it possible for one’s brain to simply explode?)

Seriously. If my husband were to bring up the issue of vasectomies right this minute? I’d give him one myself.

Update: Last night (Friday night), he slept over eight hours straight. EIGHT HOURS. No idea why. Things we did differently: kept him up a bit more in the day, so that he had two longer naps rather than multiple shorter ones, put darker curtains on his nursery window to block more light, and put him to sleep in a snuggle (modified, arms-free swaddle) blanket. Will repeat these steps today and see if it works again. Whatever it is: AM SO ABSURDLY, MANICALLY GRATEFUL.

Baby Can’t Dance (Or, Everything I Needed To Know About Post-Partum Mental Health I Could Have Learned From Jonathan Swift And Ally McBeal)

October 15, 2008

Ooooh. Is so big!

Svetlana gives Jasper’s belly a poke. He giggles.

Is big baby. Is happy baby! He grabs her finger and yanks it into his mouth. And strong!

I shrug. I know that he’s big and strong. I am, after all, the one holding him. With difficulty.

This is why you are post-traumatic stress. This is big boy who make big entrance. He come fast, he is big, it is BLAM, and you are stress.

I nod. That’s one way of describing the circumstances of his birth.

And now, he is the BIG big big boy. And the strong. He is like Gooliver! This is the tired. You are tired from Big Gooliver.

I stare at her, blankly.

Gooliver? And the Poochins? I do not know this in English. The Poochins, they tie Gooliver?

Oh, I say. GULLIVER. And the Lilliputians?

Yes! This is this baby. GOOLIVER. He is big for you! So big for birth, so big for holding! So much for to make you tired, and stress.

I think about this. I wonder if the better analogy isn’t that I’m Gulliver, and my children are the tyrannical Lilliputians, attempting to bend me to their tiny wills. Or that I’m Gulliver, and Jasper is a Brobdingnagian. Or that I’m a Brobdingnagian, and Jasper Gulliver. Emilia is almost certainly a Lilliputian, albeit a very, very tall one.

Whatever the case, Jonathan Swift is spinning in his grave, I’m sure, to hear his work reduced to awkward literary tropes – giants and little people, tyranny and oppression – exploited for the purpose of post-partum psychiatric therapy.

I’m missing a point here, I think.

I give my head a shake and shrug at Svetlana. I don’t know, I say. He certainly exhausts me. But I don’t feel oppressed by him. I’m just tired. And anxious. And tired.

You sometime want to escape?

Hell yeah. But not like ‘oh god release me from these ties that bind’ kind of escape. Just, you know, some kind of ‘gimme a break’ escape. A little bit of quiet, sometimes, maybe. A little bit of peace.

Peas. Yes. You need this. You have had some peas these weeks? She looks at her clipboard. These two weeks?

Some.

You need more peas.

Yes.

She brightens suddenly, looking at Jasper, who is squawking and hooting like an angry squirrel to get her attention. He is not Hooliver! He is cartoon baby! Very big baby, very smart, very strong, but is still baby. Is still BABY.

She looks at me expectantly. I’m not sure where she’s going with this.

You see. He looks like big boy. He is strong like big boy. But he is just baby. You tell him: ‘YOU ARE BABY.’ And then you put him down. And you do not worry. She leans forward as if to tell me a secret. He cannot dance.

I stare at her, again, blankly.

She raises her arms, elbows bent, and does jazz hands. OOGA-CHUCKA. This he cannot do. She leans forward again. He is just little baby. He stay where you put him. Do not need to hold him always. Do not need to tie him down with arms. He is baby. Put him down.

I put him down on the floor of her office, sitting upright against my legs. He immediately grabs one of his feet and chomps down happily.

You see? Is fine. And now you have arms. Maybe not always peas, but arms.

Indeed.

What I learned, then, yesterday: sometimes, a few minutes of free arms equals a decent measure of peas/peace, and any measure of peace does a mountain of good in an anxious life.

Also, that mixing and mangling metaphors and analogies is good for the soul. And that having a Slavic pantsuit-wearing, Swift-reading, Ally-McBeal-loving throwback of a psychiatrist isn’t such a bad thing as I might have thought.

OOGA-CHUCKA.

Postscript: that whole put him down and free your arms thing? Works best when he isn’t shrieking in protest. That’s not so peaceful. Just sayin’.

Need to work on that part.

Scream

October 8, 2008

It was all going so well. The crib had been set up and baby moved into the nursery, the husband was home at night and embracing the task of night-time baby monitoring, the Ativan prescription was filled and ensuring that just as soon as baby had last pass at the breast for the evening, I could go right to sleep. And it was working. I was sleeping. It was good. For about four days, it was good.

Too good to last.

I am currently hanging on to my sanity by the barest threads, doing everything in my power to ignore the tightness in my neck and the pain behind my eyes as I listen to the baby FREAK OUT in the other room after 36 hours of only sleeping in 30 minute stretches. The husband is gone on his second night of overnight filming and I’m afraid to take the Ativan while he’s gone and for some reason the baby and the girl have both decided that they cannot and will not sleep while he is not in the house and the one is shrieking (teething? sinus pain? WILL TO TERRORIZE ME?) while the other is jumping on her bed and tossing her stuffed animals around her room and the cats are yowling for their dinner and I have not slept since yesterday morning and I AM SLOWLY GOING MAD.

It is taking all of my will to keep from shrieking SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP at all of them. It is taking all of my will.

I have a strong will. I also have a strong bedroom door, and I currently have my back pressed up against it. I’m sitting on the floor, trying to block out the noise, trying to slow my breathing, trying to keep my calm, trying to keep my calm, trying to keep my calm.

I know that this, too, shall pass. I know that at some point – maybe in a few hours, maybe in a few days – I will look at the beautiful faces of my sleeping children and feel that blissed-out, satisfied calm that is one of parenthood’s greatest rewards and I will remember this moment – this moment of wanting to scream – only in the abstract.

But it is still this moment, right now, this terrible moment, and all I can do is live through it.

I press a pillow to my face and scream.

Visualize Whirled Peas

October 2, 2008

Her name was Svetlana. She spoke with a thick Slavic accent and wore a pantsuit, which for some reason made me think that she looked like a banker. A Russian banker. Which didn’t predispose me to telling her my secrets, but still: I had promised myself that I would do this, that I would seek help, and this place, this tidy office with a worn leatherette sofa and wilting fern and shelves upon shelves of books on psychiatry and therapy and parenting, was where I had arrived. This woman, the occupant of this office, would help me.

So, she says, peering at the file in her hands, you vant harm your child?

Um… no… that’s not…

She frowns. Say here, you vant harm your child… you have violent thoughts…

No, no, that’s not exactly right… I just…

Is chicken scratch. I cannot to read. You look, tell me vat it say. She hands me the file with my psychiatric referral.

Um… I squint at the inky scrawl “…reports intrusive thoughts of harming baby… reports wanting to drop baby on bed, escape home, reports experiencing feelings as violent, aggressive… denies intent to harm… denies intent to harm self… denies suicidal ideation… reports being afraid of intrusive thoughts.” I cringe. I’d rather not be reading this. “Sleep deprivation. Previous treatment for anxiety. Supportive husband.” I hand the file back to her. I didn’t say that I felt violent. I said that the feeling itself was violent. Like a shock. It frightened me.

Is frightening, yes, these thoughts. She looks me in the eye. I know you do not vant harm baby.

Which is as good a basis for a therapeutic relationship as any, I suppose. I could, I decided in that instant, overlook the pantsuit. I could work with this woman.

We spoke at length, Svetlana and I. Or rather, she spoke, and asked the occasional question, which suited me. I hate psychiatric therapy, I hate feeling that I’m being analyzed. I hate listening to the sound of my own voice droning on and on about can’t sleep motherhood hard feel anxious yes family history of depression no not suicidal just TIRED TIRED OH SO TIRED. I just want a solution. I just wanted her to give me a solution.

And Svetlana was all about the solutions. First, we get you to sleep, no? I give you Ativan; you sleep when baby sleep. Zen, we test blood: thyroid, B12, glucose… your body, I zink, it is PFFT!… zen we meet again; we talk… is good to talk… zen maybe, maybe I give you somezing for depression. Not now. Now, you are tired. You are post-traumatic stress. You need sleep and peas. She leans forward and grabs my hand. Sleep and peas.

I had to think about that for a second.

Yes, I say, finally. Peace would be nice.

Peas is nice, she says. I help you to get peas. She drops her voice to a whisper. I tell you somezing. You are not bad mother. You are good mother. She pats my hand. Not to forget.

No, I say. Not to forget. Thank you.

Peas is good. Today, I will fill the prescription for Ativan and will go to bed early with that little bottle of peas while the husband takes the baby and leaves me in the sweet, sweet quiet dark. With my peas. With my peace. So that I will rest, so that tomorrow will dawn brighter, so that I’ll move a step or two closer to feeling like the good mother that I know I am.

*******


Note to you all, who do so much to sustain me: if you have e-mailed me in the last month or so and have not had a response from me, please forgive – I am completely overwhelmed and doing the best I can. I read everything. I respond as best I can, but that hasn’t been enough to keep control of my inbox. Please know that I so appreciate the support and the contact. I really, really do.



I Can Has Therapy? DO NOT WANT

October 1, 2008


So I goes to the doctor and the doctor sez: oh, hai, you has intrusive thotts? you can has psychiatrist!

My appointment is at 3:30 today. I am dreading it. I hate talking about my state of mind. HATE. But I will do it, because I must. Hold my hand in spirit, plz? Kthnx.

Endymion’s Sleep

September 23, 2008

I have lost count of the numbers of days and nights it’s been since I last had more than one hour of sleep at a stretch. Day and night have lost the crisp edges of their distinction: day blurs into night which blurs into day which blurs into night again and so on and so on and so on, without sleep. Day is brighter, night quieter, but it is otherwise difficult to tell them apart. Because at all hours of both day and night, there is this child, ravenous and growing, clinging to me, squirming against me or alongside me, always hungry, always growing, nursing longer than he sleeps.

I am long past delerium. I’m caught somewhere between wakefulness and sleepiness, in some strange purgatory that holds me with my eyes open, my heart open, my mind closed and dark. I can see and feel but I cannot think; my head feels covered in thick gauze, a shroud.

My heart remains open, awake. His gurgles and coos still make me smile. Even in a state of utter exhaustion, I feel love. I feel love. But I feel anxiety, too, when I try to leave the room, the better to attempt a longer, uninterrupted stretch of sleep. I feel anxiety when I hear him begin to stir and grumble and fuss. Anxiety for him, anxiety for me. I pad back into the bedroom and curl up next to him, pulling him to my breast and resigning myself to wear this heavy cloak of exhaustion, resigning myself to its pull and drag and yet still managing to smile, weakly, in the dark, when my boy sighs contentedly and grips my finger with his tiny fist.

I love him so, I love caring for him so, but still. I am so, so tired.

Sometime this morning, in the very early morning, when the light had yet to break over the horizon but its promise was there in the chattering of birds and the faint sounds of an occasional car pulling out into the quiet streets, the cloak engulfed me while I sat nursing. It covered me in its flat, heavy darkness and everything disappeared for a while, I don’t know how long, until I startled awake to find the boy next to me, wrapped in his blankets, sleeping soundly, away from my breast and I shook, afraid, having no memory of having pulled him away from my breast, of having swaddled him and laid him down, of having drifted off. I was afraid, because the distinctions between day and night and light and dark and asleep and awake were no longer just blurry, but entirely obscured. When had I stopped nursing, when had he fallen back asleep, when had I laid him down? What if I had fallen, dropped him?

Is it a miracle that I can mother in my sleep, or is it a terrible thing that I sleep while mothering? Endymion slept an eternity with his eyes open, ever-watchful, never losing sight of his beloved; I am not Endymion.

It is daytime now, and the boy sleeps – for half of an hour, maybe, or three-quarters, if I’m lucky – and I fight sleep, knowing that I must be awake when he wakes, knowing that I can’t bear the feeling of being dragged back from the point of unconsciousness just when it has begun to overtake me. Knowing that I can’t bear the idea of not being dragged back from that point when he wakes. Knowing that I can’t be, I mustn’t be asleep on the job.

So I sit here, awake, praying for sleep, praying against sleep, knowing that this cannot last.