i wake up quickly with only one glance at my baby girl: she is face up on the changing table, laughing and kicking her legs happily with all the attention she is now getting from her daddy. she coos and giggles and does this little hyperventilation thing that makes her sound like an excited puppy. it's adorable.
i take a seat in the rocking chair and arrange the pillows and burp rags so that she can have a little something to eat. adam sets her in my arms, i plant a big sloppy kiss right on her mouth, and place her on my breast. she slurps and sucks noisily, and between gulps of milk she lets out little sighs that melt my heart.
adam, out of solidarity and kindness, spends the next 45 minutes or so doing random chores around the house. he often takes this time to unload the dishwasher, hang up the wet laundry (we don't have a dryer), or even scrub a toilet. he says he wants to do these things because these midnight feedings won't last forever, and he wants to get the most out of them while they last. i appreciate all of his hard work because it makes my job a lot easier in the morning, to have a clean kitchen in which to eat breakfast, and to have dry diapers and clean onesies for mary grace. he is so wonderful!
after an hour or so, she is done eating and has drifted off again, so we head to our room and go back to sleep. sometimes she is still awake when we lay her down, but she is drowsy enough that she can often get to sleep all by herself. occasionally she has difficulty so we bring her to our bed, but most of the time she's a big girl and goes to sleep all on her own!
several hours later, we hear sneezing and cooing coming from her nursery again. it's now 7:30 and the sky is light. this time it's my turn to get out of bed first, and i do my usual sleepwalk to her room. i open the curtains, unplug the nightlight, and look at our daughter: she is smiling at me, and waving her arms excitedly. immediately i am awake again, happy to be able to hold my girl after so many hours apart. rather than change her diaper right away (she usually takes a little while first thing in the morning to fill it up, as it were), i take her over to the rocking chair and begin to nurse her again. usually she is quite hungry, but some mornings (like today) she is in a playful mood and wants to look around and sing songs. after some time i get up and change her diaper and give her her vitamins (which she loves!). in the meantime, adam has gotten up too and comes in her room to visit with us while we all three take our time waking up.
about an hour after she wakes up we go downstairs. adam usually begins working on one of his projects and then gets ready to go in to the office, and i place gracie in her bouncy chair with her activity center. she looooves this! she does her excited puppy breathing again and bats at her rattles that hang from the bar above her. this usually buys me enough time to eat some breakfast and maybe check a few emails. after about 30 minutes of this she is bored and tired again, and so one of us cuddles with her until she dozes off. she takes a little catnap for about half an hour, which is usually enough time for me to take a shower and get dressed.
soon it is around 11:00 and it's time to feed her again. depending on the day, i might nurse her on the couch and let her sleep downstairs in the living room. sometimes i nurse her in her bedroom and lay her down in her crib (though she usually doesn't nap for very long in her crib -- we think she gets lonely up there and wants to be down here with all the noise and company!), and some days i get her dressed in a jacket and shoes and we go for a walk while she sleeps in her stroller. i go to the grocery store for yogurt and juice, the market for fresh peppers, the bakery for gorgeous rolls and hearty loaves of bread. i stop by the drugstore for more vitamins, shampoo, and dish soap. i go to the natural foods store for tea and flax seeds. i go to the church to light candles in gratitude for our healthy and happy daughter. sometimes she is still asleep when we get home, so i just place her, jacket and all, in her bouncy chair and let her wake up on her own.
at about 4:00 adam starts to come home from work, and on his way he rings his bicycle bell underneath our living room window. gracie and i hurry over to wave to him as he rides by. daddy's home now, and it's time for fun! he gives her her afternoon bottle and then they read books and play while i get dinner ready and have some time to myself.
we take turns eating dinner, because by 6:00 she's pretty cranky. it's been a long day for her, full of activity and dirty diapers, and she wants to go to bed. but if we put her to sleep now, she'll be awake at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning, and that's too early for all of us! so we take turns walking the floor with her, bouncing her on our knees, or persuading her to suck on her binky. meanwhile the other person is eating dinner as we all sit on the couch together and hang out.
finally it's 8:00 p.m. and time for bed. i usually take her upstairs and put her in her jammies and start to feed her. in the meantime, adam is downstairs locking doors, blowing out candles, and putting dinner away. by 8:30 gracie is nursing happily and adam is able to come upstairs to keep me company while we wait for her to drift off. soon she is asleep and we swaddle her tightly and tuck her in. adam plugs in her nightlight and makes sure that her hot water bottle is positioned correctly so that she will stay nice and warm throughout the night. we get ready for bed and spend the next half an hour or so just talking and spending time together, as spouses and friends, rather than as parents.