The Velvet Hammer

magss.jpgFinally, I get to be the hero for once.

For two weeks running, Maggie and I had it made. I’d wake her softly at the crack of dawn, bottle feed her, then take a long, slow stroll around the neighborhood until she slipped off to sleep. Everybody won: Abbi slept, Maggie ate, and I gained QT with baby and bonus points with mommy.

For nearly two weeks now, though, she’s refused the bottle. Our mornings are now a protracted battle that invariably ends in tears, frustration, and a solemn handover to Abbi. It’s a heartbreaking exchange, one fraught with the guilt of my uselessness in the face of feedings, to say nothing of my typical 12-hour daily absence. Sure, I try and make everything else easy — dishes, laundry, groceries, meals — but it’s small solace.

Last night, I received this text just a few steps from home:

Just warning you that I’m going to need extra help tonight; Maggie is cranky. She hasn’t slept all day.

When I stepped inside, Abbi was standing in the dining room with Maggie, doing the now-familiar bob and weave. Abbi turned to flash an exasperated grimace as Maggie struggled against her embrace. Without a word, I reached out to cradle the baby, then began bobbing and weaving myself.

“Have you dropped the velvet hammer?” I asked.

And so it began. Without breaking rhythm, I nudged the bath mat off the tub with my left foot, then turned on the shower with my right. I stepped to the sink, cranked it, then positioned myself in the perfect aural center between the two spigots facing her towards the darkest spot in the room. Then I began counting. Somewhere around two hundred, Maggie’s head settled into my shoulder. I ticked off another 150 back-and-forths for good measure, then crept into the bedroom and gingerly lay her in her bassinet.

I quelled my impulse to grin as I stepped into the living room, then opened my arms to my wife.

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