3 A.M. Party.

It’s 2:47 A.M. and micro’s urgent cries from his bassinet at my bedside hurtle me, inelegantly, from a deep sleep that feels agonizingly painful to shake off. I take a few seconds to gather myself, though the increasing ferocity and volume of micro’s cries force me from supine to upright in under a minute. I quickly arrange my necessities — my phone, the remotes, my canteen of water, and an oat granola bar, as I’m routinely ravenously hungry from breastfeeding at this hour — at my side, remove my bathrobe and micro’s swaddle (a desperate ploy to maintain wakefulness on both of our parts so that we can feed and return to sleep as quickly as possible), and settle in to nurse my boy.

This feed is a doozy. The one around 11 P.M. — even if I’ve drifted off before it — and the one at 6 A.M. are manageable. But the 3 A.M. feed is not for the faint of heart — at least not going on four weeks of interrupted sleep. I usually try not to wake Mr. Magpie during these feeds, but I had mentioned, off-handedly, that I might need to rouse him some nights for company, as I have several times fallen entirely asleep while feeding micro and woken with a bad crick in my neck an hour later, or with a half-finished bottle dripping into my lap, or to a wailing, half-fed baby looking for milk. Even with the TV on, I tumble into sleep with something like hunger, as if my body is grasping desperately to pull its mantle over my shoulders and my eyelids have turned leaden.

Without further prompting, Mr. Magpie heard me clambering around at 3 A.M. the following night and leapt out of bed with a sprightliness unseemly for the hour. I could have been hallucinating, but I think he might have danced while snapping his fingers as he walked around the foot of the bed to grab my canteen to refill it with water and prep the bottle for micro. When he got back into bed, he sat up next to me and dove suddenly into conversation about a competitor of ours from back when we owned a technology business, peppering his observations with humor that left us laughing out loud. It was an odd conversation for 3 A.M. made even odder by the fact that we were deliriously chuckling to ourselves, and as I studied his profile against the glare of “Very Cavallari” on the T.V., I thought — my oh my how time has changed us.

There was a time when we would not even leave to “go out” for the evening until 11 P.M. Nowadays, we applaud ourselves if we’re awake past 9:30 P.M. and we’re deeply thrilled with ourselves if we’re out of the apartment at such a “late” hour.

There was a time when serious, thoughtful conversations tended to take place during the intimacy of dinner hour, over a languid glass of wine — or perhaps after a meal, into the unfurling of an Arlington night sky dotted through with the blare of cicadas and the occasional roar of a car up Larrimore Street — not squeezed in anywhere it might fit over the course of the day and invariably interrupted by the needs of our children.

There was a time when 1 or 2 or 3 A.M. meant a late night slice of pizza on the way home, or the dwindling of a dance party in the living room of my apartment on R Street in Georgetown, or that time we slow-danced on the roof of an apartment building on Wisconsin Avenue right across the street from the National Cathedral, its ancient spires oddly befitting of the wild romance of the evening, or the quiet taxi ride back from wherever we’d been, windows down, the streets of D.C. whizzing by — all placid save for the flash of street lights and the blare of neon signs. Not sitting up in bed, fighting the urge to sleep, as we elbow our way through this hazy blur as parents to two young children.

I have been thinking a lot about us lately. About the many permutations of us there have been. About how obscenely fortunate I am that we have evolved in different ways and into different versions of ourselves that continue, improbably, to complement one another despite the fact that we fell in love when I was only eighteen years old and knew nothing about anything save for the fact that this man was a good man and I would do well to build a life with him.

There is a lot of static in my life right now — a lot of movement, a lot of change, a lot of chaos. But somehow sitting up at 3 A.M. with Mr. Magpie, enjoying his companionship, and thinking about just how far we’ve come together simplified things. It was as if I’d been scanning the radio for days, listening to the static crackle, searching for the familiar shape of sound, and had finally tuned into a crystal clear station. This man is a good man and I would do well to build a life with him. I am convinced that this is the through-line, the very center of the story of my life. For others, it might be the search for family, or matrescence, or vocation of one kind or another — but, as I told him weepily a few days after we got home from the hospital, I have loved building a home and a family and a life with him, and I have loved wandering through career changes and the purchase and sale of a home and the many complexities of adulthood at his side, but the main thing is — him. He is core and all else is peripheral, whether we are in our early 20s, streaming out of a bar on the Corner at UVA or in our mid-30s, feeding babies and laughing about some insider business trash talk from a phase in our professional lives that already feels as though it belongs to somebody else, so distant are its concerns from the fabric of my current life. The nature of a 3 A.M. party together may have changed, but nothing about the shape of our relationship and its centricity to my narrative has morphed.

How is this possible, I wonder? “The past is foreign country; they do things differently there,” wrote L.P. Hartley. How lucky I am that we continue to find our present in the same latitude and longitude, sitting right alongside one another.

Post Scripts.

+I’ve written a lot about my relationship with Mr. Magpie, and you can catch up on it all here if you’re new to these parts. (Welcome, new Magpies!) My favorite recent posts on him include a recounting of some of our earliest months together as boyfriend and girlfriend back at the University of Virginia and why I wept when he cut his hair.

+For Father’s Day, I ordered Mr. Magpie the COOLEST clothes from a new-to-me label, Todd Snyder. They are beautifully made and super versatile in my opinion — some menswear labels skew a bit too hipster for his classic/preppy style, but these pieces feel super adaptable. I bought him a pair of these pants in the rose color, these shorts, and this long-sleeved tee in the olive color, which looks amazing with his hazel eyes. Though the t-shirts are pricey, the pants and shorts feel reasonable.

+I also bought him a pair of these Patagonia “baggies” shorts in the spiced coral color, which are really more of a neon orange and give me major retro lifeguard vibes (love the shorter length!). I thought they would be perfect dad gear for mornings in the Hamptons, whether we’re playing in the backyard sprinklers or walking on the beach, and for weekends spent at the Central Park splash pads.

+I briefly considered buying him a pair of splurge-y Vilbrequin swim trunks, beloved by jetsetters who frequent Saint Tropez, especially since they make coordinating pairs for children, but knew he’d balk at the extravagance.

+A few of you have asked whether Mr. Magpie might write a post on cooking/cooking gear — I’m trying to convince him! — but in the meantime, you can absorb a lot of his genius obliquely through this roundup of our (…his) favorite cookbooks and this rundown of the best kitchen gear. Some additional thoughts on meal planning here.

+Speaking of micro, there are some great children’s sales right now, including at Maisonette (love these and these for micro and this swimsuit for mini), Jacadi (these! and of course any of their Liberty prints), and La Coqueta (this, this, and this are in my cart).

+I did end up ordering the coordinating FOJ Roller Rabbit jams for mini and micro. SO CUTE. There’s still time to order yours — Saks offers free fast shipping.

+Unrelated to anything above: in love with this windbreaker in the ice blue, smitten with this $50 bow-shouldered dress but wish it had a longer hemline, and how incredible is this $64 floaty dress?! Also: these bow-topped beauties are magical.

+These would be so cute for a backyard festivity. More backyard decor here.

12 Comments

  1. “About how obscenely fortunate I am that we have evolved in different ways and into different versions of ourselves that continue, improbably, to complement one another despite the fact that we fell in love when I was only eighteen years old and knew nothing about anything save for the fact that this man was a good man and I would do well to build a life with him.”

    Wow, Jen! Thank you so much for this. I feel the same way about my through line, and sometimes I almost get a pang of anxiety about the fact that I fell in love with my partner at 20 (How can something so good possibly last the rest of my life?? lol). It also reminds me of something Leandra Medine said about getting married at a young(er) age: “I would have to grow up a lot. Because I was married, this growth would happen next to another person.” I don’t think I necessarily take that for granted, but in the last year or so I’ve drawn a deep sense of security from the fact that we’ll go through (grow though?) life together. Like you, I revel in that good fortune.

    1. Aren’t we lucky?!? Such an interesting point from Medine, too — growth alongside another person. Sort of an interesting yardstick…or maybe anchor…or maybe a north star? I don’t know the correct metaphor, but it’s interesting to think about growth in tandem with a loved one. I’m sure we’ve pulled and pushed one another in various ways.

      I have the same anxiety, too — how can this good thing last so long?! But it has and I know with every passing year (month), it will continue to persist. We are rock solid. Sounds like you are too!!

      xxx

  2. This is so beautifully written and perfectly summarizes some of my feelings about my own 3 AM feedings. Thank you for this!

  3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I love the way your brain is able to think about things and how you’re able to verbalize (by writing? what word am I looking for here? Ha.) your relationship with Mr. Magpie. I have many of the same sentiments you’ve shared on the M Series with my own husband but could never lay them out as eloquently as you! In short, I’m jealous!

    1. Ahh — what a compliment! Thank you so much, J.C. Will be carrying this around with me all day. Thank you for reading and taking the time to share your reaction and, of course, for the generous thoughts. xoxoxo

  4. You are so fortunate to have a partner like Mr Magpie, and doubly fortunate to be aware of this blessing. I love the way you write about relationships.

    xx

    1. Thank you, MK! I really am. Don’t know why I was blessed with him, but grateful for it. xx

  5. Middle of the night feedings are brutal. I deeply empathize with your description of your body desperately grasping for sleep. Just want to send love and support! You are doing great and your baby is so lucky to have such an attentive mama with a great sense of perspective. xoxo

    1. Thank you, Leah!!! I appreciate the camaraderie. You are too kind 🙂 Sending you lots of love as well! xxx

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