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  • It is January - or February - or March - or.... It is 2009. It is the middle of the night. Without my contacts in, even a bright room is hard to see clearly in, and since it is the middle of the night, the bedroom is not bright.

    That's okay. I know it as easily as the back of my hand, and even still recovering from my son's birth, I can move through it with only the broad visual clues my eyes give me in the dim light.

    Stand. Turn to the right. Three steps. Turn to the left. A half-step. My hand brushes the crib rail, and I lean over. Waiting. Struggling to see a motion, a faint rise and fall. Listening. The sound of a tiny breath in and out. The faint stir of his body moving.

    I breathe out. Reach down, and halt my hand - well, somewhere above his body; without my contacts, distances are imprecise. But I know this, very precisely: if I touch that sweet small form he will wake, and he needs his sleep and we need his sleep.

    I shouldn't have been an only child. Eight years before I was born, my sister was born, lived, and died - what was then called a crib death, what would now be called SIDS. I can name, by heart, all the risk factors in her life that do not exist for my son - changes in medical understanding, in how we put babies to sleep, all of them.

    Naming doesn't push the fear away, not completely. So I wake, and I walk to the crib, and I wait.

    My son is breathing easily, and for a moment so am I. It will be several months before I stop waking in the night, and more before I stop sneaking peeks in on naps taken while I am awake.

    In and out and in, and on. And thankfully, on.
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