2:30 a.m. My baby looks at me, cooing and laughing. He’s trying to get me to reciprocate. I sigh and let a wave of stress wash over me. He tries again. As we lock eyes, I see that he can feel me. He understands that I am stressed, and he wants to take it away. So he smiles, he laughs and squeals, and looks at me expectantly. I just sigh, clench my teeth and look away.

Half-sleeping, I put him on my belly and try to shhh him to sleep. He’s not havingHe wants to play; I want to sleep it. He wants me to be happy; he wants to play. I want to sleep. I force myself into a vertical position, trying to stand and rock a wide-awake child into a place of semi-consciousness.

Half-completed thoughts sluggishly try to knock on my mind’s door. Something inside my head is trying to remind me to be grateful for this little guy, but at 2:30 a.m., all I want to be grateful for is my bed. Something is trying to remind me about all the negative pregnancy tests, about the empty time when I could sleep through the night, when I could run errands and go the gym whenever I wanted. When I could cook dinner and cut up a salad to go with it it ... when I had all the time in the world to fill with whatever pleased my fancy. My brain is trying to remind me of the time that was always full with things, yet it was so empty from something. Something is telling me about the days that I could fill with whatever noise I wanted, yet still screamed with silence.

But now its 2:45. My bed is calling me.

Tripping around my bedroom, I try to pat my son to sleep. My little bit more awake brain tries to remind me about when we got pregnant, how excited and tickled we were. It tries to remind me about the secret that I carried deep in my uterus. About the way my husband and I would exchange an excited knowing glance every time we saw a baby.

2:55. This child won’t sleep. I swaddle him again, stuff the pacifier in his mouth, and make a half-hearted attempt to sing to him ...

3:00. In my mind’s eye, I remember how suddenly I bled and how I frantically looked at the OB as he made his prognosis. I feel the knife in my heart when he said, “Well, just what I thought. There’s no heartbeat.” I came back the next week. And the next. I begged them to do just one more ultrasound. No life returned. I wouldn’t let them take the embryo, my baby, just in case they were wrong. I exhausted Google, looking for stories about how the doctors were wrong, how the baby was still alive.

3:20. I want to go to sleep. He’s still awake. This time, I rub his back and give him a kiss, and he squeals again.

3:45. I’m thinking about the pain of the miscarriage ... the lifeless feeling of the empty uterus. I’m thinking about how all of a sudden, it hurt me to hear about peoples’ babies, about the pain inside that no one could see from the outside. I’m thinking about the tears and emptiness, about how badly I wanted to try to facilitate life again.

3:50. My son sighs and snuggles against my shoulder, and I force myself to wake up a little more, and give him an extra kiss. This time I go into the bathroom and turn on the shower. Maybe the steam will help him sleep? No such luck.

4:00. I’m thinking about the next pregnancy test, the little plus sign. The flutter that bubbled up in my chest and how I tried to squash it down—how I didn’t want to be excited, and I didn’t want to hope. I’m thinking about how I tried not to care about the life in me. And then I’m thinking about the fear and anxiety that I had when I passed the marker where I lost my first pregnancy. I’m thinking about with what trepidation I tiptoed through every new week that hadn’t passed before. Every week that I was one more week pregnant, seemed to be one more week in the clear. I’m thinking about how magnificent my stretched out belly felt, and I’m thinking about how my heart jumped that first time I felt my baby kick.

4:20. Now I let my guard down a little more, and for just a moment, I gaze at my baby’s face. I pause and notice his soft skin and long eyelashes, and I notice the way his face lights up as he smiles and tries to get my attention. I look away as I remember what time it is and try again to pat him to sleep.

4:30. I think about the labor. TheI tiptoed through every new week contractions that wracked my body, the when I thought I was done, that I simply couldn't do it. Then I think about the birth. About the amazing moment when I held my son for the first time and felt his little body against me, his arms and legs flailing and how he calmed down as I stroked and kissed him. I let myself feel the warmth that washed over me and the tears that seemed to just fall out of my eyes. I think about the loud hospital room, the beeping, the voices and the machines, the people and the lights; and I think about how I hardly noticed any of it as I stared at the miracle that slept in my arms and melted into the peacefulness and contentedness that seemed to transcend us.

4:45. I stumble to the couch. I hold my precious bundle who is still cooing at me and thinks it play time. I look in his big blue eyes, and this time I let him in. I take a deep breath, let the stress fall off my shoulders, let myself open and embrace my son. Yes, its 4:45 in the morning, and, yes, I’ll be exhausted tomorrow. Today I was exhausted; it seemed that all I did was put him to sleep and feed him, and then put him to sleep again and then feed him again. Yes, he’s teething, and he still won’t nap well. I still cannot go to the grocery store, I still can’t study for my test, and I still can’t make my husband’s lunch. I still didn’t put away my laundry from four days ago. I still have a mountain of dishes in the sink and dirty diapers on the floor in his room. Yes, I just spent an hour putting him to sleep only a few short hours ago. But now, it’s just me and my beautiful baby.

And that’s all I want.