|Almost 9pm in June ... (or 330pm with leaves in December)|
Rose arrived the week before Thanksgiving. I went into the hospital on a really warm, sunny Thursday--the weather that weekend was spectacular and I missed all of it sitting in a hospital room. When I was discharged on Sunday, a front had rolled through the night before and it was suddenly FREEZING cold and windy enough to make walking outside difficult, or opening doors to public buildings, or opening your car door while getting in and out. The drop in temperature was enough to make my mom and my mother in law go berserk trying to find heavy, preemie, baby outerwear for Rose just to get her from the lobby of the hospital into our car two yards on the other side of the front doors.
I vividly remember all of the bright leaves that were on the trees the day I went in, and all of them had been ripped down and blown away before I even made it home on Sunday. By Monday morning, all of the trees looked like skeletons. I would watch them bending over nearly in half through Rose's lace curtains while I sat in the new rocking chair her first full day at home. Typically, this kind of scenery would've been fine by me for the week of Thanksgiving. But I was so caught off guard by Rose's arrival and so disappointed at how awry my weekend plans had gone (stupid, I know, but I was) that seeing those January trees in late November really made me unhappy. I just wasn't ready (in about a million different ways).
Practically speaking, I wasn't surprised by my lack of sleep that first month of her life. Everyone tells you about that. What did surprise me was how depressing the darkness felt: Never in my life have I routinely been awake after 2am night after night, week after week. I mean, I guess I was the summer I wrote my dissertation? I went to bed at 3am many of those nights, but that was different and I think that was because it was summer--not winter. Rose would eat at 1am, 4am, and 7am. I have nothing positive to say about 1am on November and December mornings. It was such a bitch having to get UP and FUNCTION after days and days of not sleeping. But there was something about getting up at 4am that would have me on the brink of despair. The sun had already been down for TWELVE hours.
And I knew I wouldn't see any light through my eastern facing windows for at least another four. It was awful. During the afternoon, I would know that 3pm had rolled around by a sudden sense of panic that I had to turn on ALL of the lights because it had suddenly become so dark outside. If my mom happened to be over (which was not everyday or even throughout the week), she would be on her way out the door because she hates driving in the dark. And I would literally just panic not because of the feedings or exhaustion but the idea of having to do all of it in the dark. There goes the sun, taking his goddamn time to circle around and pop up the other side like it doesn't matter or whatever. (Or maybe I should've been mad at the earth or whatever.)
At the 7am feeding, it was still pretty dark outside but the sky would become that weird marine blue color and you knew things would look totally different in an hour--you just had to wait. Once 8am rolled around, I would feel flooded with relief: Holy crap, I made it. The sun came back. I have seven or eight hours to enjoy it.
By the time I had been home two weeks, I had concluded, "I will be dead before the winter solstice arrives." Screw Christmas--I wouldn't see the solstice. The shortest day of the year would be the thing that finally, FINALLY killed me. Not the nursing, the pumping, the no sleeping, no eating, no reading, no relaxing, no nothing. Not all of the grading I still had to do (although that almost killed me) and all of the student emails and whatnot. The goddamn dark was gonna finally slit my throat and finish me.
And then I blinked twice.
And the solstice arrived, only it was the summer solstice ... not the winter solstice.
Like how is the longest day of the year HERE already? When did that happen? And why do the days have to get shorter now? Can't we negotiate something less drastic? Like half the amount of change we typically get?
It's funny (not ha-ha funny) because I have always known how affected I am by the light in the change of seasons, but damn, being forced to be awake all day and all night for weeks on end makes all that stuff SO MUCH more pronounced. As if I needed one more thing. But I wouldn't have put my money on the dark. I wouldn't have guessed that THAT was going to be the worst part.
So anyway, the longest day of the year is here. And I'm alive! And I swear to God, I can't believe it.