Saturday, October 29, 2011

Return of the Night Shift

The day we moved into this house we found that we could not fit a queen-sized box-frame around the turn at the bottom of our stairs. Apparently queen-sized beds didn't exist in 1890? Our only choice was to cram the more moldable mattress up the stairs and just lay it on the floor. We were fine with this arrangement at the time, but I remember thinking to myself, "The only time this could be a problem is in the last couple months of a pregnancy." And here we are. Not only is it difficult to get oneself out of a bed on the floor when one can no longer bend in the middle and one's middle weighs an extra 20 pounds, but pregnant women are also plagued by the need to use the bathroom somewhere between three and ten times in a night, and the only bathroom in this house is downstairs.

On top of my need to catapult myself off the floor and traipse down the stairs to the bathroom every hour or so, the children have decided to sabatoge most of the remaining minutes in between my regular travels. I had enjoyed a long period of relative night-time peace, but somehow the stars have aligned against me in the last week or two and all four children have decided to become nocturnal hunters. I am the prey.

Toby has once again decided to take in most of his liquids at night--it's only water, I have no idea why this is so appealing to him, but because of his unknown kidney condition I am hesitant to limit his intake--this, of course, causes him to flood even the most absorbent night-time pull-up. Somewhere around 3am, if I haven't remembered to change him earlier, he will wake up screaming that he's wet and if I don't hear him screaming, I'm sure to hear Hannah yelling at him to be quiet. I change his pajamas, lay a towel over his wet bed and call it good enough, but he wants more water. Sure, little buddy, why not send Mommy down the stairs yet another time tonight so you can wet through your pajamas again before morning? And down I go, and up I go, and back into bed I flop.

Not long after that Emma will wake in a coughing fit. She has always been sensitive to viruses. Any little bug will set her wheezing and coughing like a life-long smoker for weeks, and she happens to be going through another several-week battle with some germ. She will thunk wildly as she coughs, fling open my door and plop herself down on the bed I have all set up for her on the floor beside me. I will sigh, give my pillow one last hug, and heave myself back up out of bed again. At least, because I've anticipated this visit, I have a dose of cough medicine and the nebulizer treatment all set up and ready to go--no more trips downstairs this hour. But alas, Emma has drained her water bottle as well and the cough medicine tastes nasty--down I go again, and up I go again. She drinks, she breathes the albuterol mist, and her cough quiets at last.

I want only to rejoin my long-lost pillow in bed, but I decide that I'd better make a last bathroom stop, since I'm already out of bed. Down and up again. I flop in bed, and endure at least ten minutes of protesting squirms from the baby within. Finally he quiets, I relax, and I begin to drift to sleep...until Emma drifts to sleep just before me and begins to alternate wheezing inhales with snoring exhales. She sounds like an elephant slurping in a trunk-full of water and blowing it back out again every two seconds. I contemplate waking Matt and asking him to carry her back to her bed, but her wheezing is just severe enough that I figure it's safer to keep her beside me, just in case she gets in distress. I lay awake trying to find a song that fits the beat of her snoring, just to amuse myself, and I finally drift to sleep.

It won't be long until Hannah sneaks in to ask me if that thunder she heard was a normal thunderstorm or a severe thunderstorm; or Naomi wakes to use the bathroom and, because her ankles don't bend well, she thunks down the creaky stairs with all the grace of a hippopotamus; or Toby wakes again crying in delerium from a bad dream; or Naomi wanders in to let me know she's having trouble sleeping and ask if it's OK to get up at 5:30am; or Matt's alarm clock goes off because he has to work early today.

Some mornings the children have been angels and have blessed me greatly by waking quietly, playing peacefully, and waiting patiently while Mommy sleeps in, but then there are mornings more like this morning. This morning I lay listening to Emma and Toby fight over and over in their room and when I called Toby in to scold him for taking Emma's toy he informed me that his pajamas had orange juice on them. When I asked him why he admitted plainly, "because I spilled it...all over...and it made a big big mess."

Today I was also blessed to develop Emma's cough. This apparently disturbs the little baby within as much as me since he has to do a few sommersaults everytime I cough. I probably need sleep more than ever tonight, and I probably ought to head to bed, but I doubt I'd find much sleep there. Here's hoping this virus will soon leave us, the children will give up their nocturnal roamings, and I will find rest again before my fifth sleep-thief arrives. Then again, maybe this is good practice for what lies ahead when he comes.

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