Every night before getting into bed I tiptoe into the girls’ room. I listen for a moment to make sure everything is right – quiet breathing from both beds, humidifier hiss, space heater hum. I tuck C back under her covers – she tends to sleep with one leg slung over the duvet, like me, and if my grandmother is to be believed, like my grandfather used to – and then I grab a clean diaper and gingerly make my way around the toy booby traps littered everywhere to Little L’s side of the room.
I quietly lower the side of the crib and gently roll my sleeping baby onto her back. I do a quick butt pat to see if her diaper feels squishy and full, and, since it usually is, I gently unzip her fleecy pajamas. As the cool air hits her round belly her little legs jerk up in protest and her face scrunches itself into a comical irritated grimace. She flails around for a moment until her hands encounter a stray pacifier, which she maneuvers into her mouth without ever opening her eyes.
She instantly relaxes back into sleep and her legs straighten themselves out. I slide first one pudgy foot out and then the other, holding them both in the air so I can slide the clean diaper under her. Her feet are warm and soft and I can never resist planting a gentle kiss on the tender soles.
I change her diaper quickly and marvel at how small and pudgy and babyish she appears in the dead of the night. There’s no frenetic movement, no clingyness, no whining, crying, just sweet sleeping baby. Asleep like this and so trusting of me she is once again my sweet innocent baby, not the fiercely independent toddler, desperate to keep up withe her older sister, constantly moving, talking, growing.
I make sure her diaper is snug and slide her legs back into the jammies. I zip them up carefully and roll her back onto her side before covering her with a light blanket. I strategically scatter her pacifiers around her head, check that her sippy is filled with water, and brush her hair back from her face before murmuring a quiet I love you.
She rarely wakes during these stealth night time diaper changes; they’re my secret moment with my baby, my plump sweetly sleeping baby.