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  • Writer's pictureJ. R. Erickson

Last Year at This Time – December

I write a journal of sorts. It is sporadic, largely guided by emotions, often uncomfortable ones that I need to get out of my head. I go to that space to make sense of an experience or merely to record, knowing, as I do today, that I may want to look back and remember.

Today, I have a toddler who sleeps ten to twelve hours a night. One year ago, I had a baby who woke every few hours. I was exhausted and I searched for solutions and stories and camaraderie on the internet. I scoured articles and I often found solace in the words of others. Other mothers who had spent their own nights staring at the blue light of a computer screen, sleepless, exhausted, on the edge of hysteria. So, I thought I would share this entry from a year ago, with the addition that here I am, one year later, getting eight hours of sleep every night. That version of me no longer exists. That version of my baby no longer exists, but you know what? I’m thankful that he did and that I did.

Journal Entry 12/14/16

Sleepless baby nights. Awake again and again, nursing, and then the long process of trying to shut down the brain, finally sleep creeps in and then he shifts, starts to cry and it happens all over. My body is tired, my bones, my brain, the skin of my face is tired. I start to get desperate – I think, I will sleep train, I will put him in a crib, I will, I will, I will….but in the morning light (actually there’s no light – it’s winter and 7am and still dark) in the morning awakening, I know that even the hard moments are fleeting. I am tethered to the hourglass and Avery’s babyhood is the precious sand passing through – ‘oh God cannot I grasp them with a tighter clasp, oh God cannot I not save one from the pitiless wave…’ (Edgar Allen Poe). No I can’t and so, even in the exhaustion and the frustration and the desperately wanting to feel rested, I will just carry on. I will wake with him and nurse. Because with this baby, I’ve been given that unique gift of seeing how temporary our life is in this moment. He changes so quickly that I can literally observe his transitions and thus recognize that it’s passing and that I will miss it when he has changed.

Sorry for the stream of consciousness – it is a journal entry – after all. But I will say this, it is all so true. Never in my life have I been so acutely aware of the significance of a moment passing, a day, a month and now a year. In the beginning, motherhood was an overwhelm that I thought would last forever. I remember looking into the face of this beautiful, fragile baby and crying. Love and fear and the massive unknown pressed in on me from every direction and then one day, with barely a sound, a new experience replaced that overwhelm.  A new kind of Avery, a new kind of me, a new version of this moment replaced the one that came before and, even as I write this, another will be ushered in, as the previous version sweetly, silently slips away.

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