The last thing I heard before turning on the faucet last night was the low groan of a sleepy Charlie asking for water. It then got quiet, so I washed my face and brushed my teeth. Emerging from the bathroom, I found my son, nearly four years old, propped in our bed squinting and resting his head on my smiling husband’s shoulder.
I climbed under the covers, wrapping my arm around Charlie, reaching to the other side of him and resting my hand on Brian’s chest. Charlie curled toward me, burying his head into me, closing his eyes and saying, “Ohhh, Mommy, I wuv you.” Then he opened his mouth wide to yawn: “I want to sleep with you guys the whole night. Is that ok?” The yawn of a half-asleep little kid is one of the most adorable things in life and, of course, I said yes. Charlie closed his eyes and fell asleep smiling.
Draping my son and my husband in the dim light of Brian’s bedside lamp, I time-traveled back to the weekend after Mother’s Day four years ago, when I woke in the middle of the night and discovered the six-hour-old nestled in the crook of my shoulder had a dirty diaper. Still unable to stand safely following my post-partum hemorrhage, Brian scooped Charlie up, then stopped in his tracks. “Uh, babe. How do I do this?” He’d never changed a diaper before, and it’d been 10 years since I had. The hospital was spilling over with new babies, such that there was no room for us in the post-partum ward, so we spent the night in the birthing room, where the labor and delivery nurses, who noted we were all stable and healthy, promptly forgot about us. I was still partially disoriented, following an endless 29 hours of labor and the blood loss that caused the room to close in on me right after I nuzzled my new baby. Micromanaging the first diaper change didn’t even occur to me. Brian couldn’t find any wipes, so he filled the tiny plastic tub, the one in which he’d helped the nurses bathe his brand new son that day, with warm water and he cleaned Charlie’s bottom before putting a fresh diaper on him—inside out and backwards. Then he swaddled Charlie up, snuggled him against his chest and placed him in bed with me, where we both proceeded to a.) fix the diaper, then stare and smile at our new baby for a peaceful eternity.
That moment is imprinted into my mind—the feelings, the smell of our baby and of the hospital, the color of the light in the birthing room, the sight of Brian cupping warm water and drizzling it over Charlie like a baptism and the serenity of Charlie’s eyes in his dad’s hands. That night, it was just the three of us tucked away in an isolated corner of a bustling obstetric ward, basking in our first night together.
It’s an otherwise incomparable intimacy, sharing the first night with your baby and your partner; and last night reminded me of it. We sandwiched our rosy-cheeked first-born between us on a Saturday night almost exactly four years since his birth. The bliss of his warm, pajama-clad body clinging to the curve of my own, and my radiant husband on the other side of him, was joy enough to last forever.
Later in the night, I woke to the desperate repeated cry of “Mommy! Pwease ‘nuggle me, Mommy. Pwease, pwease, pweeease, Mommy,” and it was too much to bear. I left Charlie and Brian asleep, tiptoed across the hall, plucked Kip from his crib and sunk with him into the twin bed, with his tiny two-year-old hands on my face and his wispy hair in my mouth.
Sometimes I get frustrated about missing a full night’s sleep. And when I’m really exhausted, I might even get crazy flaming mad about it. However, this Mother’s Day, splitting the night wrapped around each of the boys who had the guts to turn me into a mom in the first place, just felt perfect. I woke up feeling like a little girl on my birthday and, over breakfast, I sensed why: It kind of was like a birthday. I may celebrate the day of my birth in the middle of August, but Mother’s Day is about my re-birth. So, today I celebrate all women-turned-mothers and their birth into a completely different state of being, that of the experience of divine love.