Everything is worse at night. It’s because anything experienced in the middle of the night (after having gone to bed, that is) is something more than you want to experience, because, in fact, you hope to be unconscious all night long. So to be conscious enough to experience anything is, well, not fun. It’s why getting up to pee seems like an insurmountable task while you lay there in a stupor trying to convince yourself that it can wait until morning. While you fidget and toss and turn and cross your legs and squeeze your eyes shut and then finally get up and go. And it’s why I was sobbing at 2 am last night.
Ella cried from 1-3am. She wouldn’t sleep unless we held her and rocked her in the glider chair. We finally gave her infant Tylenol, but even that didn’t seem to help. I tried nursing her, but she bit me so hard that I started bleeding. So I put her down in her crib and came back to my bedroom and cried. It was like surround sound. Crying baby in one room; crying mommy in the other. Mike, murmuring to me and praying aloud that Ella would fall asleep and my pain would go away.
He didn’t know that the pain wasn’t just physical. There’s a deep emotional aspect to nursing, and when the baby chomps on you in the middle of the night, the shadowy existence convinces you it’s a rejection. It’s a rejection of you as Mommy. It’s a rejection of the milk you’re providing to your baby. It’s a rejection of the comfort you’re offering your child. So, while you burn in physical pain, your heart breaks as you contemplate whether it’s time to ween. Weening isn’t as much about the baby needing to gradually stop nursing as much as it is about the mother getting used to the idea that her baby is growing up, and that quiet time, that guaranteed quiet time 4-5 times a day is gone. It’s the middle of the night, and you’ve moved past the crying, the rocking, the not-sleeping… and are grieving the loss of your newborn. It’s ridiculous and emotional; it’s an exaggeration of the senses; it’s nighttime. It’s shadows. It’s dark and scary and painful and it feels like truth. All of life is encapsulated in the hours spent awake when you’d rather be asleep, and you just know… you know that everything is falling apart, your baby doesn’t need you anymore, your pain is never going to end and will, in all likelihood, turn into an infection, and life as you know it (and love it) is over, and the only logical thing to do is cry.
Then, of course, comes the dawn. Light filters in through the thunderstorm-washed windows, the dog yawns and stretches, the baby smiles, and your tear-stained cheeks are the only hint that you almost lost your sanity 4 hours ago. It’s day. Time to start anew.