I had a moment this morning. A moment of pure, peaceful perfection. After months of being awake half the night with an infant, awake the other half the night in random, stabbing, roaming pain, of sleeping through clock alarms, and little people alarms, and little people requests for breakfast, or television shows, or help with zippers and buttons and poptart packages. Too exhausted to think or move, much less jump into mommy mode with the speed of the superhero they think I am. Like swimming through a sea of cotton balls – fingers and feet barely moving, mouth full of cotton, eyes and face puffy, brain feeling like cotton soaked in baby oil – thoughts lethargically dripping from codeine-induced sleep into bare consciousness. Not this morning. This morning was magic.
The first time in a long time I have to be somewhere on time. In court, no less. On time and alert. A tall order these days. The alarm buzzes and I begin my morning ritual. Toes, ankles, hands, shoulders, anything new today? Anything worse today? Anything better today? Immediately, more alert. Not so bad today! Not what I expect after a weekend of swimming (thank you, hot tub!) and hardcore cleaning (exercise?). Everyone else is still asleep. Just me and my head and my RA.
I feed the baby in the early light, still in bed, cherishing these last few so very precious days of nursing her before I give that up. Trading health benefits for her in order to find some tolerable level of health for me. Methotrexate is waiting for me, along with who knows what else, a fancy handful of Judy Garland trail mix, I’m sure. Make up for the nursing with love and affection and a momma that can move around, play with toys, braid hair, dress dolls, dress babies. I love nursing her. It’s the one thing I can give her that no one else can. But I let the guilt go. That, I can let go. I can’t go on like this without medication, without more than a Tylenol or prednisone. I will be a better mother to them all if I give up nursing. I have a better chance of normalcy, whatever that means, if I do this now.
And so this day, as I watch the light brighten in that special silence of early morning, as I hold my baby to my breast, I feel my home, my heart, come alive around me. And it is magic. First, the preschooler comes stumbling down the hall, rattling her new farm game in her still-pudgy hands. A few minutes later, her big brother emerges, sleepily stretching, heading downstairs after his sister. I put the baby in her cradle, and as I turn from the closet, I hear her affectionate lisp, a sweet squeak of delight. She is awake and full of new baby smiles—“Another day! We get to do this AGAIN?!? ” I adore and envy her enthusiasm. I dress quietly – quickly, even!—and head downstairs after the littles. Within a few minutes, my husband is downstairs too with the gurgly baby in hand. Final scene: kids eating breakfast and playing nicely together; me tidying hair and face; hubby making coffee; baby reigning quietly from the throne of her bouncy seat. It felt . . . normal.
I have never been so amazed, so utterly awed, by normal. There are moments in life, precious, few, and most often far between, where the world turns without me and mine for a split second, and everything is right. Maybe RA, in forcing me to slow down, to analyze my feelings more – both physical and emotional -- will give me more opportunity to realize the moments. More chance for the world to spin without me and mine, for it to be just us and nothing else, just for a minute. I will give some bad days, some really bad days, for more moments. That would be just fine.