books, motherhood, parenting, pregnancy, walking

On sleep, doctor visits, and silence

It’s 6 o’clock in the morning and though the house is still and dark, I am awake. It is the way it is these days. As much as I want to hibernate like a bear storing up my unconscious hours like an extra padding of fat for the coming months ahead when a little one will be waking me up every few hours, I can’t. I treasure my sleep. I adore my sleep. I could sing odes, sonnets, and serenade sleep– and yet it is the very thing that eludes me these days.

Still, in some ways, the silence in this early hour, though entirely unwanted, is beautiful in its own way. I felt reminded of this yesterday at my now weekly checkups at the doctor’s office when they strapped me to a heart monitor and left me to my own devices for twenty minutes. Or rather, they left me without my own devices as my kindle and my brand new iPhone were tucked away in a purse just beyond reach. I lay in the quiet fluorescent room with nothing to do but lie back and feel my son do the samba inside me.

I am so much busier now. I can’t say I’m solving world peace, or racing to important business meetings, but somehow my days fill up like a balloon about to burst and as I lay in the doctor’s office with nothing to distract me I realized how rare it is to have such absolute silence in my life. I lay back and soaked it in. I felt my son fling his arms and hands and wiggle his butt. Sure I’ve felt this all before, but even in my down moments, there is usually a TV on, a computer humming, or a book resting in my lap. Even in the down moments there is no true and complete silence like in the doctor’s room where I heard just pin-silence and the pulsing heart of the child within. I had nothing to do except be fully focused in those twenty minutes and while I feel him move every day, in those twenty minutes I felt his physical presence with a different sort of intensity; it hit me as though for the first time that I’m not just whale-like and lumbering for no reason– I’m about to be a little samba-dancer’s mother. Every human being alive has a mother. I will be his.

I just finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed, her memoir of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail after her mother’s death. She writes about silence and how it transforms and how it heals. How on a trail hiking thousands of miles in hundreds of days you can simply put aside all the daily distractions and focus simply on your foot falling in line behind the other. How you can just watch a bird perched on a cliff and not think with your analytical mind but simply be in the complete silence of the outdoors. How this is something we as humans are supposed to experience, and how this is something as humans in today’s world we seldom do. I’ve read so many stories and heard so many anecdotes of the healing and meditative power of stepping into silence and simply taking one foot in front of the other and walking. Not on a treadmill, not with iPod wires dangling from one’s ears or a friend to chat with and whittle away the monotony but to actually embrace the monotony, the silence, and feel it as a tangible thing. I believe in this and yet I fear silence, I fill my days with devices, reading, chatting or otherwise eluding silence but in the doctor’s office I realized its power and how healing and meditative it can be.

My days of silence [and sleep] of any variety will soon be rare but as I lay in the doctor’s office, as I read Strayed’s book, and as I sit here now at this early morning hour, I am amazed how little silence I experience, how important it is to harness it, and a hope that despite soon becoming a mother to two, I will find small patches of silent moments because truly they matter. How else can you delve into the deepest part of who you are if you never allow a moment to let yourself sink in?

5 thoughts on “On sleep, doctor visits, and silence”

  1. people always told me to sleep as much as i could when i was pregnant with louise, as if there was some way to stock up on rest and keep it in some sort of top secret sleep bank something, privy only to those who have children. you could sleep all day and all night for a year before a baby comes and the only thing you'll have to show for it is atrophied muscles and a dusty house, because as soon as it gets there, you're still going to be exhausted, that's just the way it is. but it's not like you're new, you know what's up 🙂
    so much thinking in the silence… too… hard.


  2. Salam Aisha! I'm a new reader from India. I too am an Aysha, mother of 2 boys (age 6 and 11 months), a post graduate in engineering, staying at home right now to be with my boys. And yeah, I didn't smile at my wedding either..:) (I am going through your archives, you see..:)

    Love your writing, and looking forward to read more about your adventures with your little ones, Insha Allah. Wishing you good health and happiness.



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