I Didn't Sleep

01/11/2016 18:29
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I didn't sleep.
For the two nights that you spent making your descent into the world, your pushes and shoves becoming more insistent as you drew ever closer to your journey's end. 'Mummy,' your sharp movements told me as you determinedly moved forward. 'I'm coming. I need you.' As you made your tricky traverse, your progress felt keenly throughout my body, slumber eluded me. And so I stayed awake, waiting eagerly, to see your face, ready to scoop you into my arms and give you succour and comfort as you transitioned from the dark to the light with an earth-trembling shriek of confusion.

I didn't sleep.
The night we brought you home, your precious, tiny body so small and alien within the four walls of the home that had once only provided shelter for two. Uncertain and anxious, I drifted in and out of slumber constantly, waiting for you to awaken and let me know, with your vociferous cries, that you needed me. I stayed beside you, watching you, a faithful servant, ready to do your bidding, even if I wasn't quite sure what that might be.

I didn't sleep.
For the six months that you lay beside me in your crib, wrapped in the bedding that I hoped would replicate the warmth of my arms. I woke night after night and watched you breathe, my hand gently hovering above, feeling the rise and fall of your chest, the sweet wisp of your breath on my arms. It gave me peace and comfort, at least, for an hour or two, when I would jump up again to feel that unmistakable movement and allay my constant concern, for a while at least.

I didn't sleep. When you moved across the landing and into your own room, into a cot that seemed too large for you, so different from the crib in our room that you'd easily outgrown now.

How could you be so big and so small all at once?

I'd wake in the night and look around for you, panic gripping my heart until I saw a blurred picture resembling you on the monitor. I'd lie for a while and just watch you, watching the grainy motion of your chest. But it was never enough and I'd tiptoe into your room and stare at your face just to reassure myself that you, magical you, were real.

I will not sleep.
When you stay away from us with friends for the very first time. I will fret that you're remembering to brush your teeth and are being good for your hosts. And I'll worry too that you're getting along with the others, that you're not being teased or bullied in the way that young girls can. I will hope that you're not awake all night yet my own eyes will struggle to close as I worry for you on your big girl adventure, so grown up but always my little one.

I will not sleep.
When you pack your bags and leave for your own home. 'Finally. Dad and I get the house back,' I'll laugh. But inside my tummy will churn and the worries will flurry around my mind like a thousand fireflies flashing across the sky at sunset. Will you have enough to pay your bills? What will you eat? Will you remember to lock the doors? But most of all I'll think about how much I'll miss you, the beautiful girl who has been down the landing all these years. I'll tell you though: 'It will do you good to be independent,' and you'll smile a gorgeous, proud smile as you take this momentous step into your new life.

And I will not sleep.
The night that you're awake waiting for the arrival of your own child, knowing that you'll be feeling every movement he or she makes as they travel along to meet you, their mum. I will be hoping for you, my girl, to stay safe, and for the new life to arrive quickly, minimising the pain for you. And my heart will burst with pride, knowing how fortunate your precious bundle will be to have you as their mother.

But I do not regret the loss of all those hours unslept because sleep is just a bridge that separates us.

And now, every night when you fall into your own deep and peaceful slumber, however fractious our day might have been, I miss you. And I look forward to when you rouse again, so I can see your smile, hear your voice, feel your strong little hands grip onto my neck. I feel like a child the night before Christmas, waiting for the glorious gift of the morning when I will wander into your room and scoop you up into my arms and see my world light up once more.