Sunday, 15 March 2020


I went to bed last night at seven-thirty with an audiobook and two tablets of Excedrin Migraine.

Until I went on birth control shortly before we got married, I had never experienced a migraine. I had the opportunity to witness many in my youth and young adult life, as my mother and one of my sisters regularly suffered from this debilitating species of headache, but I knew that the minor muscle grievances I had were a nuisance at best in comparison. (Perhaps because of this, I developed a strange aversion to taking Tylenol and Advil, believing I would take it if things got "really bad" and knowing that they never really got "really bad" for me. My tune has since changed, and when a medication can relieve me, I readily take the advisable dose.)

Beginning with birth control, frequently throughout pregnancy and now on a roughly-monthly timetable, I get wicked migraines. It starts with a mounting pressure behind one eye, as though someone was pressing harder and harder against the back of my socket with their thumb. The pain travels through my cheekbones to deep in the ear canal and then down my neck, synching each muscle tighter in its descent. In time a throbbing pain develops along this track, beginning in my forehead and spreading all the way down to a spot between my collarbone and shoulder, generally on one side of my body. It takes about an hour to progress from the first sign of pressure to the full-blown event. It's not a very fun sixty minutes.

Sometimes I catch it sooner than that, but last night I was in bed with my heating pad on and a cold cloth over my face before I finally made the leap to diagnosis. Ben came to bring me meds and tuck me in right after he'd settled Liam, rocking the Family Caretaker role. He retreated back downstairs to play Minecraft, and I prepared for sleep.

The silver lining to having a migraine-prone family is that I came to the problem with their solution in hand. We source our Excedrin Migraine from the States because the formula is a little different down there, and that's the one that worked for Mum. And it works a treat for me too! Everything faded in twenty minutes -- but whatever magic comes in that American pill has one little side-effect that I always seem to forget at the critical moment.


It's currently 4:14am. I have been migraine-free and wide awake since roughly 8pm last night. I finished the book I'd been reading by 11pm, spent a couple hours staring into the darkness, had a chat via text with my baby-delivering night-shift sister, repositioned my pillows fourteen times and then resumed my gazing at the night. At three in the morning, I heard him cough. He roused, murmuring quietly. Then, two clear words:

"Muwk? ...Muwk?" 

My heart melted. This baby-talk thing is still a novelty in our house, and he's learning new expressions every day. It's felt like an explosion of language over here, and it's a total marvel to me. "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?" And who can refuse a begging baby his milk when he asks for it, even in the middle of the night.

I got up and filled a bottle. We've mostly switched him over to a sippy cup for milk now, but for this moment I wanted muscle memory more involved than active brainpower. I lifted him from the crib, changed him, put him back, closed the door. A swift and hushed encounter with one of my favourite humans. He cried when I left him, but not for long. All was calm even before I settled myself down to write.

I am so grateful for the solid sleep my little one gets. Wake-ups like this one are rare with him, but when they do happen, they remind me of his very early days when it felt like we were the only two people awake in the world. I was my best in the wee hours, back then. I felt the closest to him during those feedings. It took a long time to love him while the sun was up, but my Liam was precious in the dark. Though I know I'm likely to long for uninterrupted sleep when our second child finds Home with us, part of me looks forward to being Night-Shift Mom again.

I have no baby to coddle right now. My brain is awake all by itself, and come the real morning, I will probably regret indulging it with the writing of this piece, but right now I'm glad to have spent the time here, with my digital paper, catching the feels of a moment before I lay my head back down and resume, once more, gazing into the night.

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