I opened my eyes to the sound of your scream. I checked the clock. 2:30am. I sighed and prayed you would just go to sleep. The night was only half way over and this was the fourth time you’d woken me up. I was tired. But I knew tired would give way to exhaustion, and tomorrow was going to be brutal.
Your screams got louder and more distressed. I desperately hoped you would not wake your big brother, and I cursed the universe for always giving me a bad night when dad was gone on a business trip. As I laid there trying to force myself awake, I pictured my husband asleep, in a quiet hotel room, alone in a giant bed. I had to fight off the feelings of resentment. It was not his fault. He had to go. I knew that. But still, I couldn’t help it, and I hated that I was feeling jealous.
Then, you started doing it again. The sound of it, broke my heart and pulled my tired body out of bed. I hate that sound. To my mommy ears, it’s worse than nails on a chalk board. The metronomic banging of your limbs against the crib was clear and deliberate.
It was either your hand, wrist or arm. I’m not sure which, to be honest. You were sitting up in your crib slamming your whole arm from your elbow to your fingers into the railings. As you screeched and cried your sad little voice was crying, “Stop! Stop! Stop!” with every impact. You were spasming. You were in pain. I picked you up and I hugged you and kissed your cheeks over and over again. “Mommy is here. I gotcha,” I repeated to you several times, but it did not comfort you. I could not comfort you. It killed me. So in the darkened moonlit room, all I could do was hold you and hug you while you cried.
But the cramp was a bad one. It would not go away. I wished it wasn’t a full moon so I wouldn’t have been able to see the distress on your sweet little face. You looked at me with your trusting little eyes, held up your arm and said, “Help.” I sat on my bed holding you, my arm wet from your tears, feeling devastated that there was nothing I could do. Your cries were relentless. “Mama! Mama! Help!” But your pleading for help could only be answered with hugs.
Then you freaked. You went from feeling pain, to feeling betrayed. Here I was, your protecter, your mommy and I was doing nothing. Few things could upset me more than the knowledge that you were feeling betrayal for the first time while in my arms, in a time of need. I hated that you were being forced to know such adult emotions at such a young age. I could feel a part of your innocence slipping away and I hugged you tighter hoping to hang onto it. You stopped crying and made eye contact with me. Your expression of confusion and betrayal was clear, even in the dimly lit room.
Then your face changed. Like a light bulb had gone on. You were thinking, and had just remembered something. What you then said broke me in two. It devastated me actually. You said, “Please mama. Help.” We have been working on manners and you knew that I would not give you things until you said please. I fell apart at the mere thought that you believed for an instant that I was not helping you in a time of great distress, because you had forgotten to say please. I grabbed you tightly and said over and over again, “I’m sorry. I don’t know how to help you.” But you didn’t understand. How could you? At 20 months you are still very much a baby. So you began to plead in your most desperate tone, “Pleeeeeease. Pleeeeeease.” And I lost it. I sat on my bed with you in my arms and I cried too.
Eventually your pain subsided, but mine did not. I sat their holding you crying, long after you’d fallen back to sleep.