The Work You Do in the Half-Light

I start my morning with a tip-toe. Hushed movements as I quickly move from bed to the hallway and away from the bedroom where husband, dog, and baby are all sleeping.

I hit the switch on the electric kettle, the one I filled with filtered water the night before. It’s right next to the pour over coffee carafe already set with several scoops of coffee waiting for the boiling water. Then I move back to the hallway silently past my room to the nursery. This is where I get dressed. I laid out and hung my clothes up in the baby’s room the night before. Once dressed, I pack up the breast pump and set it by the door and check it’s not missing any components. Time to go back to the kettle. I pour the water over the coffee grounds to give it an initial splash to wet each grain. The smell makes my eyes widen. Between the smell and the glass of water I drank silently upon waking, I’m now fully awake and less zombie-like and leaden.

I take the baby bottles from the fridge. They already full of breast milk I pumped the day before. I set them with the breast pump bag near the door and my purse.

I’m careful to make as little noise as possible. Don’t wake anyone up. Don’t ignite the dog’s security reflexes. Sometimes it reminds me how women can often habitually practice being silent, quiet, noiseless, and small. We shrink to not disturb others. We exist in shadow and half-light. Not unlike the half-light I start my day in. It’s the last edges of night in which I start my day. 
Pour the rest of the water through the coffee grounds. Take a few sips. Sneak back into the bedroom and scoop up the baby silently from the bed while he still sleeps. Carry him gently into the nursery and lay him on the changing table to undo his swaddle and change his diaper and onesie. Sit for exactly 10 minutes in the rocking chair and nurse him before packing him into his carseat.

Grab lunchbag from the fridge. It was packed the night before. Even a water bottle was filled the night before – ready to hydrate on the drive into work.
Every arm has a strap for a bag and hands carry the carseat wordlessly out the door. Into the car we go. I sing made up lullabyes about his school day at daycare as I drive there. The sun is yet only promising to rise as I bring carseat and bottles into the infant room of the school. 
Bottles go in the fridge into his labeled bin. Inventory of his diapering shelf taken as I sign him in. A kiss goodbye and I’m back in the car. This time hooking the flanges of the breast pump accessories to me on either side of my seat belt. Breast pump is arranged on the passenger seat and with another sip of coffee I’m headed toward the freeway for my hour-long drive. An hour-long if there’s no accidents anyway.

I start the breast pump at 7am and pump for 10 minutes. After a 10 minute rest, I pump for another 10 minutes. When I park I pour the fresh milk into a container and it’s placed in my lunch bag where I have an ice pack and my food for the day. At work I will pump two more times. Late morning and early afternoon and will pump again in the car on the drive home. The sun is threatening to set as I arrive at day care. I pack him in his carseat and sign him out and collect the empty bottles. We head home in the half-light. The light that reminds me I’m tired and can’t wait to go to bed. The light that reminds me that I’ll be nursing on demand throughout the night even if I fall asleep early. The half-light that reminds me to be quiet about how I feel about all of this. The half-light through which I can still see his smiles. The half-light that reminds me to tip-toe.

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