Exhales

In the darkened room, the air still heavy with sleep, tiny arms reach up.
More often than not, her eyes are still shut. Something woke her — sometimes her pacifier ran off and hid in a corner of the crib overnight; or her diaper is quite full while her tummy is empty; or she just needs to know she’s not alone.
Whatever the reason, she’s looking for a literal pick-me-up.
So I do. And feel her ribs expand as her face finds that little crease where my neck and shoulders meet and breathes in deeply.
Then she exhales, and as she forces that air out of her body I feel the rest of her relax against me, comforted by a familiar smell that answers every question she had and helps her find sleep once more.
As she grows up, there will be words instead of cries. Sometimes those words will make it easier to help her find what she needs to sleep again, but the day will come when I’ll miss how a simple breath was all it took for me to know she had exactly what she needed.

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