Baby. Cot. Back.

2.38am
Her little blue eyes had turned black.
In the dark, I could see them wide open and staring at me.
Her legs had finally stopped jerking, her tiny fists rested loosely up next to her ears, and her breathing had slowed.
Even the hiccup hangover from crying had stopped.
I stared back at her, sending imploring messages to her eyelids.
‘Close, close, close,’ I thought.
Behind me, Learner Dad was face down on a mattress he’d desperately dragged into the nursery.
I heard snoring.
It seemed my message had gone to the wrong eyelids.
She watched me as I stood up, my creaking knees excruciatingly loud in the silence.
I backed out of the room, breaking the rules by maintaining eye contact.
She moved her hand slightly.
But she had nothing left.
I slipped out the door and back in to bed.

1.14am
“It’s not working, what’s your plan B?” Learner Dad asked, turning his head but keeping his hands firmly pressed on his wriggling daughter.
“I don’t have one, this is it,” I spat back.
“She’s not going to sleep. What if she’s up all night?”
“I’m not pulling the pin now!” I said. “What a waste this all will have been.”
“Why is she still bloody awake? I don’t get it.”
“She’s waiting to be picked up, that’s why!” I was as exasperated as him.
Fairy Floss watched with amusement as her father and I exchanged heated words above her.
“You go to bed,” I hissed, knowing every angry word we uttered was undoing all our good work.
He left the room.
I couldn’t believe it.
Now I’d have to see this through all by myse…
Oh wait, he was back.
With a mattress.
He sighed loudly as he tried to clear space for it, bumping furniture, knocking things over, before it landed with a huge ‘thwack’ on the floor.
We both looked at Floss.
She threw back her head and began to cry.

12.22am
“It says on Google it could take an hour and a half,” I sang to Learner Dad, to the tune of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.
“That could take us to 1am,” was his ‘how I wonder what you are’.
“Sorry, I shouldn’t have decided-to-do-this so late at night,” I sang back. “I’m just over it, she’s a li-ttle shi-it.”
We both smiled.
It’d be ok, she couldn’t stay awake much longer.

11.46pm
“Right, change of tactic, don’t pick her up,” I instructed Learner Dad as I entered the nursery.
At eight months old, Fairy Floss was sending me grey.
She’d spent her whole little life either feeding to sleep, or being rocked.
She was our last baby.
We wanted to enjoy her, to do what came instinctively, what felt right.
I loved watching her little eyes roll back in her head as she suckled to sleep.
And Learner Dad took pride in the fact that all he had to do was pick her up and she’d nod off.
But evenings had become a nightmare of hourly wakes.
Which meant hourly cuddles, or feeds, or both.
It wasn’t improving.
“Just let her cry it out,” my mum had said.
“Mum, we’re told not to do it that way these days,” I’d answered.
“Didn’t do you kids any harm.”
Another reason we’d rushed to her every time she cried was because her big brother, Lil Fatty, was slumbering next door.
And he was a light sleeper.
We had actually hatched a plan prior to this – to let her cry it out, but with one of us sitting beside her, so she’d not be alone or scared.
We’d made a couple of half-hearted attempts but tiredness – and TV shows – had been our excuse to jump ship.
We’d never seen it through.
After the usual three or four wakes on this particular night, I’d finally gone to bed at 11pm.
I was drifting beautifully down into deep sleep when her little cry drifted down after me, circling me round the neck and hoisting me back up.
I’d had enough.
And so, at a quarter to midnight, I told Learner Dad to start patting her padded bum while I pulled out my phone for advice – and assurance.

9.13pm
“You’re such a little ratbag, yes you are,” I said, tickling Fairy Floss’ ribs. “Why won’t you stay in bed?”
Her four tiny teeth grinned back at me, before she turned to munch down on my boob.
“Up again?” Learner Dad groaned, coming in to the lounge room.
“Yep. Why are you surprised?”
She’d dramatically turned her head at the sound of her father’s voice, dragging her teeth along my nipple as she did.
“Here, you take her, she likes being rocked by daddy,” I said, passing her over.
Within seconds, our dear little baby was lightly snoring.
“Something feels different about her,” Learner Dad said, gazing down at his little girl. “I’ve got a really good feeling about tonight.”

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Don’t Dream It’s Over

Someone shoved me toward the dance floor.
“Go on, you haven’t had a dance yet.”
Confused I wandered toward the faint strains of All You Need is Love by The Beatles, a song Learner Dad and I had agreed was a ‘must play’ for our wedding reception.
I tried dancing with some of the other people on the floor – a friend who seemed to be inexplicably back with an ex-boyfriend, cousins I hadn’t seen for years – but they all looked at me strangely.
I wandered outside.
People were milling around, many of whom I didn’t recognise.
‘Must be Learner Dad’s rellies,’ I thought, confused.
I glanced down at my wedding dress.
It looked dirty.
And I was wearing a cardigan I hadn’t seen before over the top.
“You don’t know what’s happened, do you?” a tall woman asked me smugly.
I looked at her blankly.
“You passed out under a tree, five minutes into the reception,” she said. “It’s all over now.”
I began to panic.
Was this true?
I’d only had a couple of champagnes.
Had I missed our whole wedding reception?
I ran around outside in a panic and eventually found Learner Dad.
“What’s going on?” I asked hysterically.
He sat on the ground and pulled me down to sit next to him.
OMG! I was wearing jeans UNDER my dress.
“You got drunk, abused the crap out of me and passed out,” he replied.
I stared at him open-mouthed, not only because of what he’d just said but because I realised he had hair!
If you haven’t already guessed, this was a dream.
Thank god.
A nightmare.
I woke up sobbing with regret, desperately wishing I could get my wedding reception back.
Thankfully I can.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a drunk bride and it hadn’t even occurred to me whether or not I’d drink on my big day, so the nightmare came out of nowhere.
And it’s not the first.
In another, I walked down the aisle only to realise at the other end I’d forgotten to write my vows.
Then there was the one where I glanced down at my engagement ring on the day to find my rock had gone, leaving only an empty claw where it used to be.
I’ve had that one more than once actually.
And then there was the one where I was clad in a red dress with my hair out and crimped, beside my dad who was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and runners.
What does it all mean?
The dreams have come regularly over the year and a bit I’ve been engaged.
None of them have happy endings.
According to one dreams dictionary, dreaming of a ‘wedding’ indicates you’ll soon be attending a funeral.
Hmmm yuck.
Dreaming of a ‘bride or bridegroom’ means I need to take a look at my relationship.
That perhaps I have feelings of jealousy.
Well, unless Nic Natainui is finally responding to Learner Dad’s man crush, I’m not sure I have too much to worry about there.
And dreaming of being ‘drunk’, according to the dictionary, indicates I’m worried about embarrassing myself in front of others.
I’m not a stressed bride-to-be.
If anything, I think of my upcoming nuptials with a grin, and sometimes, I’m embarrassed to add, even a girly giggle.
But maybe it’s a touch of excited anxiety that’s generating the dreams.
They’re certainly not memories of weddings past.
Let’s hope they’re not predictions of a wedding to come.
Otherwise I’m in trouble.
And our guests could be in for a treat.