This morning Tallen woke me up with his cries around 5:30 AM. He could have been crying longer, but the monitor was turned down low and his cries did not penetrate my sleep. My alarm had just gone off and I had pushed snooze for the first of four times when I heard him whimpering in the distance. I had to push aside the fog of sleep and the urge to stay in bed. After actively listening for about two minutes, to determine if he was going to go back to sleep or work himself up into a full blown fury, I pulled the covers aside and got out of bed. I pushed to button on top of the baby monitor to illuminate the video screen and saw him standing in his bed. By the time I got to his room he was sitting again, but gnawing on the side of his crib bumper. I realized his two bottom teeth, which are still swollen bumps below his gums at this point, must be causing him some pain. After I changed his soggy wet diaper, I gave him some Tylenol. He sucked hungrily at the medicine dropper and cried when I took it away, so I knew he was hungry.
In the kitchen downstairs we both blinked at the brightness of the light, then looked at each other and giggled. There is something special about being the first two people awake in the morning. The stillness surrounds and buffers us from the realities of the world. Tallen watched as I prepared his bottle, waiting patiently for me to finish before he started grabbing for the nipple to chew on as I carried him back up the stairs to his room. I sat down in the soft yellow chair in the corner and put my feet up on the ottoman. He grabbed the bottle with both hands and brought it to his mouth, dripping a little bit of milk on his cheek. His long legs draped across my lap and his head rested in the bend of my left arm. With his left hand still holding his bottle, he reached up to touch my chin with is right hand. “Mama,” he was saying to me silently. I have a book of baby sign language and I have been showing him the sign for Mama. With my palm open, I tap my chin with the thumb of my right hand. “Mama,” I tell him. This morning his soft little fingers brush my skin before cupping my chin in his palm. It is a silent language of our own, something only the two of us understand. I lay by head back and closed my eyes as he slowly drank his bottle. After awhile, his sighs broke the stillness and told me he was almost finished. I turn my head down to gaze at him in the darkened room. My eyes had adjusted to small glow from the nightlight and I could make out his eyes that were drooping, the bottle smooshed up against his little nose, his shirt pulled halfway up exposing the white skin of his round belly. As soon as the bottle was empty he dropped it on the floor and rubbed his eyes. I sat him up, pulled him close to my chest and he laid his head on my shoulder. His breath began the slow and steady rhythm which meant sleep was near. After a few minutes I stood up, walked over to his crib and leaned over to lay him down. He stared at me silently for a few moments before he turned over on his stomach to sleep. I hated to turn and leave but the sun was coming up and it was time to start my day.