Hattie-Cakes has a cold. A runny nose, clogged throat, a slight fever, "I feel crummy-all-over" kind of cold. Poor baby...the sniffles are no fun. Not to mention that it can be especially cumbersome during nursing.
A mama's job is 24/7. And it is never more true then when a little one is sick. Just because the night comes, does not mean that the job is done for the day. Can't just hang up my hat and say, "Ahhh, work day is over, I'll get to that first thing in the morning." Being a mama is important work and I am always on the clock. Judging by our day, I knew our night was going to be a long one.
Bedtime comes early as I can tell Hattie is finished with her day. She is tuckered out after a day of unrestful naps, I know bedtime needs to be bumped up. Jason takes care of the other four kiddos so I can give all my attention to her. We follow our normal routine: rocking and nursing until she gently and peacefully drifts off to sleep. Admittedly, this is one of my most favorite times of the day. The room is quiet, only the soft hum of the air purifier can be heard. The nightlight casts a warm glow on her soft, pink walls. The door is closed and it's only my baby and me. No words are needed, we just simply enjoy being. These are the moments I savor. I tuck away these memories down in my heart, down in the recesses of my soul, for these days go by too fast. For all too soon, my baby won't be a baby anymore. But it will be these memories that will warm my heart for years to come. I hold onto them with all my might.
Soon, Hattie's breathing has leveled and slowed. She is sleeping, resting, and relaxed. I slowly get up from the rocker and gently kiss her neck as I lay her in her crib, as I do every night. She finds a comfortable position and I quietly slip out of her room.
I've just made it downstairs and set my weary body down on the couch. Jason is now gone, braving the blizzard to get to his hockey game. The monitor lights up. She coughs. She stirs. Coughs some more and sits up. Sigh. Back upstairs I go. Hattie looks up at me, wanting her mama to pick her up. I oblige. I know what it feels like to feel crummy all over and just wanting to be comforted. I cradle her in my arms and we rock back and forth until her breathing slows again. I gently rise and walk back to her crib once more. I bend over and lay her down, praying for healing sleep for her.
I retreat downstairs one more time. Sink into the sofa and turn on the television. A little unwinding after a long day of childcare is needed. Not more than a few minutes pass and I hear footsteps. I mute the tv to hear better and I can tell Ella is coming down the stairs. She's not been feeling well today either and I'm nervous for what her reason is for making the trip to see me. Headache, sore throat, tummy ache are among the ailments. I snuggle my oldest and offer her comfort. It hits me...how has 9 years passed and my first "baby" isn't a baby at all anymore? I remember when I used to hold her and rock her to sleep. I can hardly fit her on my lap anymore. And yet, she still needs her mama. I usher her off to my bed to sleep, a place she loves to be, that offers her comfort just knowing that mama will be by her side all night.
All is quiet. For now. I settle into a tv show. But soon the monitor lights up red again. Hattie. The coughing has returned, reared it's ugly head, and has forced her awake. She coughs so hard, she gags. Poor baby. Up I run to tend to her. She is so upset at being woken up that I nurse her off to sleep again. Funny thing about nursing...sometimes it's about the food, and sometimes it has nothing to do with it. After much persuasion, she is sleeping once more. Again, we make the familiar trek over to the crib and I lay her down ever so gently. I slip out and head for my own bed. I've been to this rodeo beofore. The one with a sick child, knowing all too well what kind of potential my night has. I crawl into bed next to Ella who instantly curls her body up against mine. And just as I pull the covers up towards my neck, I hear Hattie crying again. The monitor lights up one more time. Oh, this poor sweet girl. And now I'm starting to feel a little sorry for her poor mama too. These last two hours have been a lot of work already and it's not even midnight yet.
I grab my pillow, kiss Ella, and start towards Hattie's room. I scoop her up, snuggle her close, and lay down on the futon mattress I have already placed next to her crib. The only place that seems reasonable to her is right directly on top of me. She positions her head so she can hear my heartbeat, coughs a few more times, and settles into slumber. I lay ever so still, not wanting to disturb her in any way. The minutes tick by...
The clock now says 1:28am. I hear a thump...Cora has just fallen out of her bed. Sigh. I listen, hoping that she is all right. Knowing that tonight, to go and check on her, means I will wake this sleeping sick baby who has told me in so many ways that sleeping next to me is not going to be an option tonight. I don't hear anything, I've concluded that she simply got back up into her bed and has fallen back asleep again.
The time is now 2:30am and my back is starting to show it's displeasure at being in the same exact position for hours how. Due to necessity, I retreat to the rocking chair to nurse an upset Hattie, Hoping upon hope that she will allow me to lay her in her crib once she has finished eating. The ritual is complete and we make our way to the crib. As soon as her head feels the mattress, she is up, showing me her disapproval. I scoop her back up, pull her close, and lay back down on the futon the way she wants. She finds my heartbeat again and settles down.
I glance at the clock and realize that it's 3:40am and I have yet to sleep. At. All. It amazes me how just when I think I can't take much more, the mother inside of me can dig down, and find the strength to keep fighting the fight.
The minutes and the hours tick by. My sweet baby stirs every 10 minutes or so throughout the night. The coughing wakes us both. And I rub her back and coax Hattie back to sleep time and time again.
At 6:42am, morning has come. Despite the fact that she has been awake more times than I care to count, Hattie decides that it's time to start the day. She smiles at me with very tired eyes. I know hers must feel like sand the way mine do. I snuzzle my nose in her downy hair, her fine strands sticking straight up tickling my nose. I breathe in the scent of Burt's Bees shampoo from last night's bath. She nuzzles in, I snuggle her once more and we head downstairs.
I realize two things: 1) I am incredibly tired. 2) I am incredibly blessed to be this baby's mama.
Love you Hattie-Cakes.