The single dimension of life with a newborn, medical school, and Aretha Franklin lullabies.

By Cicely Andree Conway

We are sitting in the dark bedroom, tired and talking about how it’s hard right now.

We had friends over for dinner tonight. It was lovely to see them; they brought delicious food, they looked well-slept and put together, calm. There was space between their words. 

We don’t have much space between words these days. 

There isn’t bandwidth for anything besides medical school and parenting.

My husband had a hard time connecting with one of his oldest friends from college. His friend understands; his friend doesn’t feel that way, I am sure. I am sure his friend who loves him is just happy to see him. He doesn’t expect stories about climbing a mountain or big life news. 

But sometimes we both feel one-dimensional. We feel like we have nothing interesting to talk about: no cool hikes, no road trips, no dinners or parties. 

He said to me sitting in the dark tonight, “I think I am just grieving.” 

That’s exactly what it is.

“A temporary grieving,” I said. There will be road trips and parties and adventures that sound exotic to friends you haven’t seen in two months.

Do we want to be anywhere else, doing anything else?

I think this as I sit in the dark with my sleeping seven-week-old daughter on my shoulder, watching him make a lullaby playlist for nights, which, like tonight, can be hard. The answer is no.

I want my daughter to know these moments—that her exhausted dad ran home from studying medicine for twelve hours, took a shower, and held her. Talked to her. Asked about her day. Looked at her and looked some more. Then ate dinner with friends and felt inadequate and one-dimensional, frustrated that he couldn’t put her to sleep on his own.

I don’t see anything inadequate. 

I see a man sitting in the dark, looking up the Cat Stevens song we walked down the aisle to, so he can add it to the bedtime playlist he is creating for his daughter. I see a man who is brilliant and dedicated, who puts his heart into everything he does, who minimizes the amount of stress he is under, who has no idea that what he is doing is incredibly hard and he is doing it perfectly. 

So here we sit in the dark bedroom together, exhausted. He plays Aretha Franklin. 

“Do you think we could train our daughter to fall asleep to soul music?” 

I reply, “I hope so,” and we laugh.