Little Hannah, you have just drifted off to sleep.
You might have drifted off 2 minutes ago, or 20 minutes ago. I’m so tired, and would love to take that advice that is so readily handed out to “sleep when the baby sleeps.” I should be sleeping, but I’m not.
Instead, I’m smiling at your little fist that is clutching the fold in my shirt. Your other arm is slung over my arm, swaying along with the rhythm of the chair.
I’m listening to your newborn breaths, quick and shallow, except for the occasional squeak. When I put you down you will start grunting, and I’ll start wondering if you’re about to wake up and trying to give you the pacifier that you have spit out and rejected. But, for now, rocking keeps the grunting at bay, and we can both relax.
I want to close my eyes, but instead I am staring at your little face. Your eyes open periodically, flick around the room and then close again, sleepily. Your mouth is a tight little line, opening sometimes to get more breath, for your lips to settle into a round O like you’re drinking from a straw, or for a sweet smile to appear, slowly spreading across your face from one side to the other.
I am trying to get you to lay flat across my shoulder, or my chest, so that I can get a good burp out of you. But you immediately push against me just enough to tuck your legs up under your body. You simultaneously slide your arms down, stack them on top of one another, and then plop your chin on top. I want to laugh at this baby version of the old school “senior portrait pose,” but it actually looks sweet on a baby. It just draws me into staring at you even longer, and rewarding your plump cheeks with kisses.
I know that I won’t be able to get a burp out of you like this. You’re curled into a sleepy ball on my shoulder, and instead of straightening you out, I settle in to rock.
Pretty soon you’ll stop folding your legs under you in that newborn baby way. You’ll be too long and too heavy to sit so high on my shoulder. You’ll become more alert and less willing to ignore the distractions and drift to sleep in my arms.
So, for now, I’m breathing in your baby smell, singing softly to you, smiling in the dark, and rocking, not sleeping.