I sometimes wish being a mother was as glamorous as those black and white, retouched newborn photoshoots. But then, I suppose, we'd have boring stories to pass on to our children. We wouldn't want that, would we?
Last week Andrea got sick again. It seems to have been a constant thing this season. Just when she's on the cusp of recovery from one thing, another bug comes in to take its place. With each passing illness, I feel more worn down and drained. How I wish I could be sick in her stead. Managing myself is so much easier that managing her, and seeing her suffer is heartbreaking.
Tuesday night was an interesting one. Andrea faded in and out of sleep for hours, and during episodes of consciousness she'd sing to herself until she felt drowsy enough for slumber. I laid awake listening to her lullabies, wondering what brought about this night of toddler insomnia. The next morning she awoke happy as usual, but began to run a fever within a couple hours. I spent subsequent hours holding Andrea, watching Nick Jr., and contorting myself to find positions that were both comfortable to me and comforting for her. I'd stroke her silky hair and tell her I would take care of her. She'd respond with a distant expression and demands for more Dora.
At about two o'clock she began to thrash in my arms, unable to find a comfortable position to relieve her of her misery. Hysterical sobs followed until they climaxed with otherworldly amounts of vomit all over me, herself, the couch, you name it. I held her for a few minutes until I was sure she had finished, and then I begged her to allow me to clean up. She agreed as long as it meant me holding her constantly. I pulled her soiled clothes off and left them with the pukey blanket on the couch before tiptoeing to the bathroom to remove my clothes as well. I asked Andrea if she wanted to shower with mommy and she insisted a bath would be better. I sat her down to run the bath water and listened to her sickly sobs. "Annie snuggle you!" She kept saying, so I picked up her naked body and sat in the warm water. She nuzzled her head beneath my chin and instantly fell asleep.
Never being one to nap long on another person, I anticipated the child to wake shortly. However, I could feel time passing, and as the bath water went from relaxingly hot, to warm, to tepid, to cool, I knew I had been sitting in the bath for far longer than I'd planned. My legs cramped, fell asleep, woke up, and recramped. My arms shook from nervousness, chills, then exhaustion. My backside hurt so horribly from the hard surface below and the pressure of two humans above that silent tears seeped from my eyes. But I couldn't move. I just couldn't let myself wake that sick girl from the one moment of peaceful relief she'd had all day.
Then, Andrea began to fart in her sleep. I could hear the soft poofs. I could feel the warm breeze. I could smell that distinct scent. Please do not poop on me! I thought while staring at the reflection of her little bum in the drain lever. Please please please please please! I could still smell the vomit in her hair and I didn't think my pregnant nose or stomach could handle poop too.
Then I heard some soft knocks at the door. I knew it was my sister, unaware of my current predicament, coming for our weekly date. I sat in silence and hoped she'd soon give up and leave without taking offense at my lack of communication. But my phone started to ring in the other room. Over and over, Gavin DeGraw announced an incoming call until my text tone signaled a voice mail, and all was silent until above me I heard the doorbell upstairs. She was getting a key from the landlord. Great.
Had the sound of the doorbell not stirred Andrea to consciousness, Tessa would have entered my home to find the couch covered with puke and soiled clothes, and me, naked and pickled in the bathtub, holding a flatulent, feverish, and asleep child. Thankfully, Andrea did wake up, and I was able to jump out of the tub, get to the door wrapped in nothing but a towel, holding Andrea wrapped in nothing but a towel, before my landlord arrived, to inform Tessa that our afternoon date was not going to be as fun as she'd planned. Bless her heart, she came in anyway and did my dishes so I had an empty sink available for the rinsing of some rather chunky articles of clothing and upholstery covers.
Yes, being a mom has it's ugly moments, but I'm sure Andrea's future boyfriends will enjoy hearing this story someday.