I recently finished Gerald Marzorati’s new book, “Late to the…
3:45 IN THE MORNING
“…something tells me I shall miss these late evenings with daughter Julia.”
Maybe it was the psychological trauma of baby Julia’s second day in a new day-care center. New faces, new noises, new smells – a new place surrounded by other babies and toddlers — it was a lot to take in for a baby in a world which already is so large and overwhelming. Maybe after a whole day of this Julia’s brain was overloaded with stimuli. Maybe this resulted in nightmares and uneven, restless sleep.
Or maybe Julia was just teething.
Whatever the reason, Julia woke up around midnight crying. It was not the whiny, soft cry that signals discomfort (“wa–wa–wa”) but the immediate, insistent sort of sharp, loud cry that suggests physical pain (“Ahhhhhh!”). At first cry both parents woke up and rushed to her crib, but no obvious ailment could be found. Julia was changed. She was fed. She was warm.
But she was crying bitterly in her mother’s arms. This was the evening of Friday September 21, 2007.
After this first incident Maria and I stumbled back to the crib two more times — around midnight, and then again at 1:30 a.m. Maria held and kissed Julia in the darkness of the baby room, only putting her back down in her crib after Julia had fallen asleep in her arms.
Another piercing baby cry woke us up from a dead sleep at 3:30 a.m. Maria was “done,” and she snapped at me that I would take care of this one; she needed to eat something and drink a glass of water. She was nursing and was absolutely exhausted by the earlier crying bouts. Fair enough.
At first I was so tired I actually felt physical pain. But after about fifteen minutes of holding baby Julia, I was fully awake.
I held Julia in the darkness and swayed back and forth, as I always did in such cases. This swaying motion had comforted baby Julia ever since she was a newborn, and it still did. I turned off all the lights except for the nightlight, and then I turned on the video iPod to Bach’s First Cello Suite by Yo Yo Ma. The iPod itself and speakers were located on top of Julia’s armoire, and so while I held her Julia looked almost straight into the video iPod screen from a distance of two to three feet. The strains of the cello played out from the Inspired by Bach video segment “Music Garden,” laden with bird noises and verdant garden imagery. Julia watched the tiny screen intently over my shoulder and soon stopped crying. As I danced slowly back and forth in the darkness, Julia in silence watched Yo Yo Ma on the screen; her eyes did not leave the screen, as her ears absorbed the moaning strains of the cello that filled the dark room. Slowly Julia began to relax and after some fifteen minutes she finally fell back asleep. Her head slumped on my shoulder, her body went completely limp. I continued swaying gently to the music, daughter Julia asleep in my arms.
It was the most beautiful moment in the world.
At an earlier age Julia hardly allowed herself to be held, or she would not even know what was going on around her. When resting on my shoulder Julia sometimes used to turn her head and try to breastfeed from my ear: to a newborn, the whole world is a nipple. By six months, in contrast, Julia had grown to fit almost perfectly on my chest while in my arms; now Julia would grab my shirt and hold on. When she wanted to be picked up, she looked you in the eyes and put her arms out straight. And when she grew sleepy in my arms Julia would turn her cheek, rest it against my chest or shoulder, and then relax and give in to sleep.
How I loved it!
Thus Julia fell asleep on her daddy’s chest on September 21st, 2007, her father rocking her back and forth to Bach’s Cello Suite #1 at 4:30 a.m. in the pre-dawn darkness.
When I finally put Julia down into her crib, she was so deeply asleep that she did not stir. She slept the rest of the night peacefully and without incident.
Yes, parenting an infant is hard work. But something tells me I shall miss these late evenings with daughter Julia.
“Her head slumped on my shoulder, her body went completely limp. I continued swaying gently to the music, daughter Julia asleep in my arms.”
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