The following is a harrowing tale of realism. Granted, it isn't nearly as harrowing as what many parents endure on a nightly basis, but it is my blog and I'll whine if I want to, whine if I want to, whine if I want to...you would whine, too, if it happened to you... Well, perhaps you wouldn't, but I will.
It began yesterday with a combination of circumstances that led to me going to bed more than 2 hours past my usual bedtime. Years ago, I could pull all-nighters without even a dark circle. I would gladly forgo sleep in pursuit of any activity that seemed more entertaining, and, let's face it, unless you have spectacular dreams, sleep isn't precisely entertaining. Oh, the folly of my youth. Now, even a mere hour or two of deviation from my normal allotment leaves me groggy.
I woke up...surely just a few moments?...after falling asleep. Elena nursed and went back to sleep. For all of one minute. She squirmed and began to whimper. I try to respond quickly when my babies fuss during the night. As a compassionate mother, of course I want to comfort them in distress. As a selfish mother with a modicum of common sense, I want to quiet them before it escalates into an all-out scream that will wake the other two. If Elena is going to settle, she does so in a few seconds, and she wasn't, so I made sure she was warm and adjusted her position a little. Peace.
The peace lasted less than five minutes. She began kicking and grunting and arching her back. I could hear her tummy gurgling and figured she was having a bit of reflux. I held her in a more upright position, which helped a little bit, but not much. She started rooting around. Dilemma: I think comfort nursing is a wonderful thing, but I don't want her to get too full and then throw up or exacerbate the reflux, and although I don't have the OALD issues I did before, I was dripping a bit and knew she'd get more milk. Maybe I should give up dairy again, but she seems fine most of the time, and I love cheese...
I cycle her legs a little, she passes some gas, nurses for a few seconds and seems to go back to sleep. 10 minutes later, she is whimpering. She seems uncomfortable, but not in pain. I check her diaper. Soaked. This thing weighs a lot. So I change her diaper, button her sleeper back up and get rewarded with a beautiful smile. Awww.
She is now comfy and happy. And very, very wide awake. She starts playing with her hands, the side of the crib, and one of Ariana's socks that somehow made its way into the bed. She soon loses interest, however, and starts asking for more personal interaction. So we cuddle and play some quiet peek-a-boo, much to her delight. She doses for awhile, but everytime that I start to fall back asleep begins to make noise.
Eventually, the noises become more ominous. My little one is not yet discreet, and any bowel movements are unmistakeably loud. Another diaper change, which also involves running warm water onto our cloth wipes to clean her up, because regular wipes give her a rash. Suddenly, she lunges into a sitting position. Wow--I can't do sit-ups, and she is barely five months. If I weren't so tired, I would be excited about this new feat.
At this point, I am beginning to despair of going back to sleep. Worse, I am starting to listen to the peaceful breathing of my wonderful spouse with a bit of resentment. Since he isn't lactating, I do night-time kid duty. It doesn't make sense for both of us to be up, right? I look at the clock (big mistake) and start mentally calculating. If x=the number of minutes until I fall back to sleep, and y=the total number of minutes until everyone else wakes up... Argh. I don't even like math!
Perhaps in telepathic sympathy to my exhaustion, perhaps from the laser beam of my eyes directed at his sleeping countenance, perhaps because I move Elena over next to him, Carlos wakes up and I sweetly ask him to take the Bittykins. She cooperates by breaking into a huge grin of delight and giggling.
Joel begins to sleepily ask for leche. Usually, he will go right back to sleep. He nurses, closes his eyes and smiles angelically. Then both eyes pop open in alarm. "Mami, mami. Baby's gone!" I explain, and he jumps up to go play with Elena and Daddy. He also leaves the door open to the sweet sounds of his exuberant play. I briefly wonder if it is worth it to get up and close the door, but can't muster the energy. Carlos, truly a prince among men, happens to pass the door and softly close it.
I pull the covers over my head and pray for a miracle, aka a few more minutes of sleep. Instead, Ariana wakes up and wants to snuggle. A cuddly warm body next to me. Even better, she is both still and quiet. No, that doesn't last. Within five minutes, she loudly announces that she needs to go to the bathroom and gets up.
Two more minutes pass, and I recognize the futility, and get up. Normally, I avoid caffeine, but perhaps today I will live dangerously. The kids excitedly plead to make gingerbread men. Well, ginger is a natural stimulant, right? Or is that ginseng? Maybe, if I can get some sleep, I'll remember...