Last week Lydia had an ear infection, and Afton had a sinus infection. Both were running a low fever, and neither one was sleeping well for a couple of nights. Generally, they were easy to soothe back to sleep with a quick cuddle or a drink when they would wake in the middle of the night. Once Afton woke at about 5:00am and was not so willing to go back to sleep. I picked her up and she was perfectly content and (seemingly) sound asleep again in my arms. I put her back in her crib like I would normally do and she immediately lifted her head and protested. I picked her up again and rocked her for a bit longer until I was sure she was out cold and proceeded to carefully and slowly lower her into her crib, attempting to not disturb her precious slumber (which was of course directly linked to my precious slumber). Again she was awake and crying as soon as I had gently put her down, despite my best efforts for making it a seamless transition. I can't even remember how long it's been since I've had to try to carefully lay down a sleeping Afton like that--months and months. Suddenly a deep and emotion-drenched wave of memories washed over me, all those nights with all of those new babies, performing this same dance countless times. Emma, Ben, Josh, Lydia, Afton, each one took a turn. I remembered putting my babies down then keeping my hands on them, only drawing them away an inch at a time so as not to disturb them. I remembered losing count of the number of times I would lay one down then pick them back up before it finally stuck. I remembered all of those silent prayers (please let him stay asleep, please let him stay asleep...). I remembered feeling exhausted and desperate after spending sometimes hours (Lydia) trying to get them to lay down and keep sleeping. I remembered once having the distinct feeling that the sound of my broken sobs must be the only thing that would get them to go down for the night (Lydia). But that night with Afton, spoiled by my months of good sleeping I didn't feel overwhelmed, and those memories just seemed sweet.
For my next tactic, I tried taking Afton to bed with me, laying down with her on my chest but she wouldn't go for that either. Not wanting for her to wake up the whole family, I gave up and just took her downstairs.
I grabbed a blanket and held her in my lap in the chair and a half--by far the most comfortable spot if you can't be in your own bed. I think laying in more of a sitting up position was what she needed, what with her sinuses all clogged up. She went quickly to sleep cuddled with me like that. I was comfortable enough to lean my head back and follow her to dreamland, but not before remembering she and I had spent many a night sleeping in this very same spot. And that was the second memory of those early morning hours I had that was miserable at the time but tender with some distance. The nights that we shared sleeping on the chair and a half were for the month or so before Afton was born. I remember distinctly it was the first week of October when I got a cold. It didn't seem like a big deal, and the fever and general sick feeling left within a couple of days but the cough stayed. It stayed and stayed and stayed. Then the wheezing started, which was totally new to me and I gained such a better appreciation for what our kids are always going through. I mentioned it at my prenatal checkups. The first time they said, yeah that can happen sometimes, what with your lungs and diaphragm being smooshed by that baby. The next visit, they were sure I had pneumonia from listening to my lungs, but the chest x-ray came back clean. The day after Thanksgiving, right after seeing Madagascar 2 with kids, Scott took me to the ER because breathing was so hard and coughing was almost nonstop. We went to the same hospital where I would be delivering Afton, and I ended up being admitted for two nights because my oxygen was low. (It wasn't really all that low, but they wanted to be extra careful for Afton's sake.) I went home on Sunday afternoon and then was readmitted at my follow up appointment on Tuesday. I was finally sent home for good the next day with a litany of drugs--steroids, inhalers, antibiotics, cough medicines, etc. I was significantly improved by the time Afton was born (12/15), but didn't stop coughing until sometime in late January. Anyway, backing up to early November, I first started sleeping on two or three pillows in bed because that made it easier to breath. Soon that just wouldn't cut it, and I'd typically start out in bed, but would wake up with a coughing fit that I couldn't stop, and of course the more I thought about it, the harder it was to relax. So I'd retreat downstairs to the chair and a half, where I could try to sleep fully sitting up. I often would watch a show off of the dvr to try to take my mind off of coughing and typically fell asleep with Oprah. So many nights. Those were long weeks. Those were long nights.
But. That was long ago now. Afton and I only spent one morning sleeping together on the chair and a half this time. That wasn't bad. Funny how things that seemed like they would be my undoing when they happened just make for good reminiscing now. (I'm so glad that it's now, now.)