It felt like I had just nodded off when I woke. I was warm, in my perfect sleeping position with the blanket and pillows exactly how I wanted them. I lay very still, listening for the sound that had awaken me.
I stumbled bleary-eyed from the bed, careful not to trip over Gabe in his cot, and made my way to the kitchen where Ellie was sleeping (got to love staying in other people’s houses!)
I looked down through the dim light of the night light into her pack n play to see Ellie sitting up, tugging on both ears and crying an ear splitting cry. Everyone who has ever heard her cry has told me what a soft cry it was, so to hear such a sharp and piercing cry was startling. I picked her up, popped her pacifier back into her mouth, lay her blanket across my shoulder and made soft shushing sounds as I swayed with her, trying desperately to keep my eyes open after several nights of little sleep due to Gabe’s bout with strep throat and a viral rash.
Ellie stilled, soothed by my scent, my warmth, the sound of my voice, but when I tried to lay her back in her bed, the shrill cry started again. I try over and over to soothe her, but inevitably when I tried to place her back to bed she became inconsolable. Eventually I resorted to nursing her, even though she hasn’t needed to nurse through the night for over half a year. Nursing calmed her enough that she fell asleep when I placed her in her bed… until the next hour.
I shuffled into the kitchen, again finding her sitting up, tugging her ears and screaming. I was so fatigued by this point that I had to sit with her while I held her, because I was afraid I would fall asleep with her. Again, every time I managed to calm her, she would begin screaming again when I lay her down.
We started this routine all over again before she went to sleep, then again 2 hours later, than an hour later, then an hour after that. Every time I went to get back in bed with Nick, I found that Gabe had climbed in and was asleep on my side of the bed. Every time I moved him back onto his cot, until one of the last times I got up with Ellie around 4 am, when I decided to just snuggle with him and leave him.
Ellie ended up going to the doctor and we found out she had a double ear infection, which I suspected. I’m exhausted from so many nights of so little sleep, but you know what?
These are the days. Someday my kids aren’t going to cry for me to hold them. Someday Gabe won’t want to climb in bed and snuggle. Someday I’ll be awake all night, but because I am missing my kids. I’m choosing not to wish these days away but enjoy them as some of the best days of my life. These are the memories that I will look back on and wish I could relive, and I will embrace them fully.