Over eight years ago, we set up the crib for the first time. When I say we, I actually mean that my husband set up the crib. Eight months pregnant, I had shuffled around while he worked, keeping myself busy with important tasks such as folding hooded towels, stretching 0-3 month onesies onto child-sized hangers, stacking diapers, and occasionally rocking back and forth nervously as I realized that the nursery -- the room that we used to refer to as the spare bedroom -- was now flooded with baby products that I hadn't known existed just months prior.
Three babies have slept in that crib over the years since then.
How many times did I stagger to that crib in the middle of the night to feed a hungry newborn? How many hours did I pace the strip of carpet between it and the changing table, hushing and rocking and whispering? How often did a baby's smile in the morning swell my heart to the point that I thought it might explode?
As we carried the disassembled pieces of the crib into the garage, memories cascaded over me. I remembered when we videotaped our first daughter as she gazed upward toward her butterfly mobile as it slowly spun. Nothing but her face, wrinkled and rosy, was visible above her tight swaddle.
As she grew, she learned to kick out of her swaddle and inch her way across the crib until her head was wedged directly in the corner. I had found this so clever -- my baby traveled! It took just one night to realize that each time she got stuck in the corner, scrunched and miserable, she cried until we rescued her. Desperate, sleep-deprived thoughts tempted me, like how easy it would be to solve this problem by duct taping her to the center of the crib for the night.
I recalled a few long, blurry nights when the girls got had gotten sick in the crib How Joel and I squinted when we abruptly flicked on the hallway lights, groaned as we assessed the mess, and then figured out who'd be responsible for cleaning the kid and who'd change the crib sheets.
I conjured snapshots of the girls as they slept: the outline of their forms bathed in the glow of the nightlight, their bottoms turned up and their knees tucked underneath, or their arms extended above their heads in dreamy surrender.
I remembered the sound of baby feet kicking the crib mattress in the morning as they woke, the rhythmic thuds vibrating through the mattress as if it were a tightly-stretched drum.
Once all of the crib pieces were propped against the garage wall, I returned into the house and watched the girls without speaking. Are these really the same children who used to whack themselves in the forehead with their rattles, stunned into tears by their own uncoordinated assaults?
How we've grown. All of us.
We're officially past the baby stage in my household. The crib now belongs to a new family, friends of ours who recently moved away. Somehow, my heart is lightened knowing that another precious child still sleeps within the safety of its rails each night.
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