Trouble is, years of night owlism have my body trained a certain way. Long days make falling asleep by 10 fairly easy, but find me waking up at about 1 in the morning to spend the next two to three hours wide awake. As I endeavor to put myself on a normal sleep schedule only to be thwarted by my body's habits, I take joy in sharing those quiet hours with Rocco, who also seems to wake up about the same time. It's not unusual for Rocco to be active the entire two to three hours that I am awake. We watch "I Love Lucy" re-runs and roll and kick and play. We listen to the dogs snore and sigh and stretch. We play Candy Crush. We worry about staying awake at work the next day. We just hang out.
"Sleep while you can!" I've been admonished. I'm told sleep and showering and generally feeling like a human are to come to an end upon Rocco's arrival. Perhaps some would even say that Rocco's waking at 1 a.m. now is just a sign of what to expect when Rocco is born. I can only say that I look forward to the day when Rocco's cries wake me up, at any hour. I look forward to a house filled with sound.
On a quiet Friday morning, May 14, 2010 I woke up to the cramping pain of a miscarriage. For ten days I woke up not to the sounds of my crying infant son, but to his muteness. In the silence of the night I checked Gabriel to make sure he was still breathing, still alive. I had to set timers to remind myself to feed him - he couldn't let me know with his cries that he was hungry. Even when he was having a fit, typically during diaper changes, though his mouth opened wide and his head shook in protest, no sounds came from his mouth. The only time he ever made much noise was when he was dying. The sounds that I remember from my son are his death cries. And those memories can wake a mother from her sleep, too.
The silent sounds of my empty home and the empty nursery became haunting, so much so that I hardly spent any time there in the two years following Gabriel's death. The sounds of a running toilet, an agitating washer, or a creaky ceiling fan weren't enough to fill the silence that should have been filled by my son. Though I enjoy my personal time and space I found that too much of it left me longing for the life that I thought I would have. I longed for my children. I longed for nights made sleepless by their needs. I slept well in that time, because I frequently fell asleep boozed up enough to get me through the night. But I woke up in the same empty home with the same gaping heart, missing the things - the people - that were missing.
I worked to embrace the quiet. I found shows that I enjoyed, hobbies that distracted me while I was at home, and little by little learned to enjoy living essentially alone. A full-time job, bartending one night a week, and my commitments to coaching mock trial and serving on the Right to Life of Kern County Board of Directors eventually consumed so much of my free time that deciding how to spend what little I had became a challeng. Do I hang out with friends? Or do I spend this valuable time alone? The alone time became much less frequent. And the loneliness became bearable.
Still, something was always missing.
Sleepless nights will grow tiresome, but I'm told that upon Rocco's arrival they'll be a part of the rest of my life. When he or she has stopped crying to be fed or for a diaper change there will be monsters and nightmares waking me up, and then homework and last-minute school projects, and then curfew violations, and then waiting in antication when Rocco's own children are born.
Twenty minute showers will be traded in for five minute rinse-offs and new clothes will become an even greater luxury and my pub-height table will become a nuisance when Rocco is a toddler - And speaking of pubs, I'll see much less of the inside of them. Most recently I've been told that for the next 12 years I won't eat a piece of chicken that's NOT in nugget form. I hear I will watch a lot of cartoons, though we'll try CNN first and see how that goes.
Unquestionably, life is about to change dramatically. I worry that I'm not ready, that after all of this time I've still moved too quickly. I wonder if I'm selfless enough to devote myself to raising a child. But of course, there's no going back now. And there's no challenge I'd rather taken on. There's no sound I'd rather have filling my sleepless nights than that of the child I've wanted and loved since before he or she was on the way. There's no place I'd rather be than in this moment.