So, we have a baby. The nice people at the hospital let us take him home and everything. We took him into the nursery that we had spent months preparing for him, and laid him down in his crib. He smiled. Sunlight streamed through the windows, a rainbow formed over Mt. Beacon, and the cats regaled him with a three-part harmony rendition of “You Are My Sunshine.”
Sorry. I should probably point out that I haven’t slept since early June.
I knew we wouldn’t sleep. I knew that a newborn does not often sleep through the night. I was prepared for that. Many years ago, I worked as a technician for a theater company that toured a lot. I was not the smartest or strongest technician on staff (in fact, I was bottom of the barrel on both counts), but there were two things I excelled in: not sleeping and not dying. These skills come in handy when you are in Brussels to build a set that has been held up in customs in Oostende for five days and all of a sudden you have to get a week’s worth of building done in 36 hours. I have been threatened by German police officers who waved their guns at me, chased by Austrian wild boars, been lost in a Southeast Asian rainforest and left for dead before the fire ants found me. One time in Japan, I accidentally ate something on my plate that was for decorative purposes only and spent the next four hours thinking I was being buried alive in piles of grass clippings. I could handle some crying and a little less sleep.
Here’s the thing about boars and fire ants, though: They don’t scream.
Cooper is a “high need” baby, which is a politically correct way of saying “must be within touching distance of his parents at all time or he will cry like hell.” If you’re standing next to him, he’s all giggles and smiles and heart-melting coos. If you walk across the room to grab your coffee mug, you better grab some ear plugs while you’re over there as well. Cooper’s cries are not the mildly fussy cries of that baby who’s always in line next to you at the post office. They are bloodcurdling wails that seem to be saying “The fact that you have deserted me means that all life is suffering, there is no God, and George Lucas is going to keep finding new ways to ruin Star Wars.”
As a result, one of us has to always be connected to him, even when he’s asleep. It’s not so much that this makes it hard for us to sleep. It’s that it makes it hard to get anything done, which means staying up all night to make sure the trash is taken out, the laundry is washed, and the cats are sufficiently fed so that they won’t turn feral.
Staying awake is a challenge, but when I get home from work and sit on the front steps with Cooper and Kristen it’s all worth it. We watch Cooper’s eyes scan the trees and fireflies, taking it all in for the first time. The sky dims to deep blue, the stars twinkle on, the squirrels bring us acorns for healthy snacking and the church bells at the bottom of the hill play “Forever In Blue Jeans.”
Sorry. I should probably point out that I haven’t slept since early June. I probably should have pointed that out before.
Brian PJ & Kristen Cronin live in Beacon with their cats and garden. View more of their photos at www.flickr.com/teammoonshine.