I steady my breath, willing it to be even and calm. My muscles are taut, poised to gently rise up, one limb at a time. I balance nimbly on the balls of my feet, sending a blessing to my pre-natal yoga instructor for the hundreds of Warrior poses she made me do. As I slowly make my ascent, I say a silent prayer. Katniss is about to enter the arena.
Or is it a silent plea? Please let me make it out of the minefield.
If my ankle cracks - it's over. I navigate my way towards the exit in pitch darkness, holding my breath, taking a moment in between each step to ensure I make the right choice of floorboard to step on next.
While I play the parenting version of “the floor is water and it’s full of crocodiles,” a mantra plays in my head. Please don't creak please don't creak please don’t creak.
I wonder, what will it be that does me in this time? The ankle? The stupid parquet flooring which only seems to creak while he is sleeping (bastard flooring), or the ominous sounds of the door squeaking (note to self, smile at maintenance man tomorrow and ask for WD40.)
Who ever knew a nursery with a sleeping baby in it could be fraught with so much apparent disaster at every turn?
I make it to the partially open door, and visualize myself as a snake, willing my body to suddenly attain a flexibility it has never possessed, as I try to squeeze through silently.
I’m at the threshold...I allow myself a brief turnaround to glimpse my sweetly sleeping baby, pivot, and ever-so-gently Shut. The. Door.
Hallelujah! I strut through the hallway of my apartment, receiving accolades from my imaginary audience. Screw the diet! Chocolates and tea all around!
This adrenaline-pumping experience is a twice daily routine. Lest it get boring, the exact stage of sleep the baby is in does change things for me. Sometimes I army-crawl across the room (who convinced me to buy this long pile sheepskin rug anyway?) dropping to the floor at any little whimper or deep exhale, waiting for my break to continue scuttling across like a cockroach. Sometimes I play the weight-game, where I’m patting the baby and I slowly remove my hand, hovering directly above in case he makes a sound, at which point it will come crashing back down upon him, the lullaby I’m humming increasing in pitch and sounding more frantic than ever. Sometimes I make it back outside, only to realize the bloody monitor is still inside the nursery, next to the crib.
There's nothing like a another nerve-tingling roundtrip to make me crave a soothing bottle of wine. Sancerre for naps and Pinot Noir for bedtime, sounds about right and not at all disturbing, yes? YES?!
And sometimes, having risked a look back, I'll see the baby watching my tribal dance across his room with fascination. He lets me know that he appreciates my efforts at entertainment by making guttural cooing noises and flailing his limbs like he can fly. Once we lock eyes of course, (his full of mirth and mine full of panic), his expression darkens and the wailing begins.
I'm at a crossroads. What is the right thing to do? If I quickly hide behind this convenient wall, will he wonder if he made up the mommy-sighting and just go to sleep?
Let me try it.
Nope, he's really pissed now. Should I leave and shut the door?
Oh, my bad. That just resulted in blood-curdling screams. I briefly imagine the neighbours calling the police and child services knocking at my door (presumably during naptime). I rush back in and resume patting, pretending like I never left, unable to look at him. He won't accept my apologetic actions.
Pick me up or else, Mother, if that even IS your real name.
As I oblige and cuddle him, he rears back his head to show me the full extent of his displeasure by screaming in my face, tears and snot streaming down his. I can't believe I did this to a poor, helpless baby! I'm sorry!
Having taught his errant mother a solid lesson in obeying orders, he soon settles down just enough to sleep, but only as long as I'm holding him. The minute his sleep-sack laden legs touch the mattress he's twitching like a fish out of water. I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. Immobile but finally a little less frazzled, I am content to hold him like a bag of flour, because mommy-guilt.
It seems the little shorty has indeed won the battle.
Tell me you have gone through this too. Please.
Yours in Desperation,