16 November 2013

Seven Hours

I do not understand how you people do it.

Stay-at-home moms? You are miracle workers and heroes and deserve crowns and medals and chocolate and a paid vacation away from the madness you surround yourself with every. single. day.

Here's the short story: my sister had her yearly MS appointment in downtown Atlanta yesterday, so I volunteered to come watch my two nieces (ages six months and 2.5ish years) since Erin and Cole had to leave the house before sunrise to make it to the neurologist.

Long story: Holy cow. Where to even start? Let's break it down.

6:30 am - Erin and Cole hand me the baby monitor, a huge cup of coffee, and scamper out the door, laughing and giggling and wishing me luck. Ok, the laughing and giggling part I made up, but still. Erin looked liberated with a twinkle in her eye.

6:31 am - I'm staring at the baby monitor - which toggles back and forth between the girl's rooms - praying they sleep until their parents get home that afternoon.

6:35am - Everyone is still sleeping. I had my Kindle with me, but I didn't read a word. I couldn't tear myself away from the monitor. Did someone move a leg? Shhhhhhhhhhhhh. Slllleeeeeeeeeeep.

7:30am - Everyone is still sleeping. I'm watching the news and on my third cup of coffee. I later regret this when both girls are up and I don't have a free minute to pee.

Erin had left me a list of "how to keep my kids alive while I'm gone for seven hours" taped to the fridge. 

I wore a path in the floor going back and forth to refer to the guidelines, and got a little panicky when at 8am, everyone is STILL SLEEPING. Erin's note said the girls usually get up around 7:30. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG??? THIS IS NOT WHAT THE LIST SAID!!!!! WE CANNOT DIVERT FROM THE LIST!!!

So I'm figuring at this point Jesus either answered my prayers and they were going to sleep all day, or else something was horribly wrong. Do all mothers have those wicked emotional swings of "everything-is-ok-but-not-really-is-everyone-still-alive?????" But I remembered a very specific episode of "Friends" that stated never wake a sleeping baby or else you will want to kill yourself later. I could see the occasional arm or leg move on the monitor screen, so I just let them be.

8:01am - Adelyn wakes up. No noise, nothing. I just watch on the baby monitor as she stood up in the middle of her bed and started stripping. Awesome. Clothes were flying everywhere. I go poke my head in her room and say, "Good morning!" She responds with "AUNT ADDIEEEE!!!!!" Morning person to the max. We change pull-ups, Aunt Addie puts Little Addie in a puppy shirt and pants, and we go see about breakfast.

8:07am - Baby Liddie starts crying. I'm in the middle of cutting fruit for Adelyn. Ummm.....I do what all awesome aunts do and I turn on Dora and throw a handful of Cinnamon Chex in Adelyn's general direction to keep her occupied while I sprint down the hall to Liddie's room. Liddie immediately smiles and lets out the biggest stink I've ever smelled. And that's saying something considering my line of work.

I'll spare you the details.

8:15am - Back in the kitchen. Liddie on one hip, trying to warm her bottle in the warmer thing while Adelyn stares mindlessly at Dora singing "Vamanos, let's go!" I tell myself it's educational and she's learning a second language. I don't get the bottle in Liddie's mouth fast enough (which Erin warned me would happen), and she starts freaking out. Then, once bottle is in, she decides she doesn't want it. So Liddie gets put in the highchair with a handful of Cheerios while I mash up a banana and finish cutting Adelyn's fruit.

Do I sound frantic? I was. My mind was screaming "Don't let them smell your fear!!! Stay calm!!"

Liddie goes nuts on the mashed banana.

I quickly realize my personal "Clean up as you go" mantra does NOT work in these types of situations. Adelyn eats her whole plate of strawberries and oranges, as well as the other half of Liddie's banana.

Girls fed. Score.

9:00 am - I leave dishes and food pieces for later (not too worried since the dog is helping vacuum up Cheerios), and we all go downstairs to the most wonderful room my sister has set up - a dedicated playroom filled with a gazillion toys. 

The best part is it has four walls and a door. Children corralled. Liddie is happy to just sit on the floor and gnaw on some toys, while Adelyn and I play dress-up, color, have a dance party, and play with makeup. Objective: Stay busy, wear ourselves out. 

It worked.

9:50am - Liddie starts to get fussy. According to The List, this is when she usually needs to go down for her morning nap. Warm a bottle, rock her for awhile, sing, love, snuggle...yeah right. Here's what actually happened. Adelyn promised me she would play quietly by herself, but I didn't trust her. At all. So I ran upstairs with Liddie while giving her about six sucks from the breakfast bottle, rocked her about three times and buckled her in her swing. Sound machine on, lights off, kid was asleep in 30 seconds.

I'm feeling pretty awesome at this point. I have magical baby-asleep powers!

I'm also exhausted and keep looking at the clock. It's only been two hours since they woke up! What the heck???? I'm ready for my own nap and the house looks like a tornado hit it. How could this much damage be done already this early in the morning??

Oh. And I guess I need to let the dog out.

Oh. And yes. They're potty training Adelyn, who will pee-pee, but not do anything else and who's favorite word in the whole wide world is "NO!" So yay. I had to guilt-trip her into attempting to potty and wash her hands, so then I hate myself for getting stern with her.

10:15am - Adelyn and I are back downstairs playing, and I'm checking the baby monitor every five seconds to see if Liddie is still sleeping. I don't like leaving her upstairs while I'm downstairs, so I convince Adelyn to make a game of cleaning up the playroom - yes, Mary Poppins style - and I literally bribe her with snacks and cookies (at 10:15am!!!) to come upstairs and watch Daniel/Thomas/Sesame Street while I clean up the kitchen.

First - when did Bert and Ernie turn into Claymation? That was weird.

Second - Erin's list said Liddie would sleep for about an hour. Two hours later...

12 NOON (!!!!) - Liddie still sleeping. I checked about sixteen times to make sure she was still breathing. I texted Erin seventeen times to make sure I wasn't doing anything wrong. Erin was thrilled Liddie was sleeping so well, so I started breathing again. Plus, Erin said she and Cole were done at the neurologist and were on their way home.

Like a five-year-old, I kept looking out the window watching for them to pull into the driveway.

12:05 pm - Fixing Adelyn some lunch. It has 30 more seconds in the microwave when Liddie wakes up. Crap. I turn up the sound on Sesame Street and rush down the hall to get the baby.

Who, by the way, immediately wanted her own lunch.

I take Adelyn's lunch out of the microwave, throw in Liddie's sweet potatoes and baby food turkey, and put her in her highchair with more Cheerios. 

And the bottle warmer burned the crap out of my fingers. 


Meanwhile, Liddie is not impressed with her Cheerios and people from six counties over stopped by to see who was crying so loudly. Adelyn then sees her lunch on the counter, and immediately starts crying and freaking out.

I think I turned four full circles trying to figure out what to do first. This is how it went down: I gave Adelyn a bite of her mac & cheese while she was standing there with her mouth open from crying. It worked. She took her bowl over to the TV and finished watching something about frogs. Liddie had no interest whatsoever in the sweet potatoes or turkey, but finished off a bottle and a half and then got plopped in her baby holder thing. 

I want to kiss whoever invented those. 

We made it. Erin and Cole got home, Adelyn goes down for a nap, Liddie close behind around 2pm. I don't notice any of this because I'm in a worn-out coma and Erin had rewarded me with a Campfire Mocha from Caribou.

I wanted to curl up in a dark corner and sip my coffee. 

Instead, we tried to entice Liddie to crawl. 

Didn't work. The only thing we succeeded in doing was ticking the baby off an making her fussy. 

Erin does this EVERY DAY and I don't know how. Especially with such a debilitating and fatiguing neurological condition as MS. I have hospice patients who have MS who are wheelchair or bed-bound, and it just amazes me that Erin has the stamina to do this. I get concerned because if I get that tired after just seven hours, Erin has to be ridiculously exhausted. It's not helping her MS any to let herself get that fatigued, but she does it with such a selfless attitude.

She also got really crappy news at her MS appointment. As a nurse, especially as a hospice nurse who sees these things every day, I want to scream at her to rest when needed, to take care of herself so she doesn't end up chasing her kids from a wheelchair wearing oxygen and having a feeding tube. But it's just not the reality. Those kids come first, and she makes them first above herself. I'm so proud of her.

And also more than a little in awe. Everyone thinks Matt and I hate kids because we don't have any, but that's ridiculously untrue. We love kids. My husband is a teacher and coach, for crying out loud. If he didn't love kids, he would have chosen a significantly different profession. But honestly? I'm weak and incapable of this kind of commitment. I will be the first to tell you my sister is way stronger than me, because I just don't think I could do this every day forever and ever. At least with my job I get weekends and evenings off...but Erin is on-call 24/7. Saturday and Sunday schedules are the same as Monday - Friday. Just the thought of that is daunting to me.

So, to wrap this up, my sister is awesome. And she and Cole have awesome kids. Who I kept alive.

In time for Makeup Party Part II. 

Today I Love: Being an Auntie and spending precious time with my nieces. I also love the fact we're all still alive and speaking to each other. 


RCW said...

Love the post! -C

RCW said...

Love the post. Funny stuff! Thx again.