On Friday night, Pre-Third-Baby Anxiety-Inducing Imaginary Scenario #473 occurred: Alternately dealing with a newborn baby's usual night-wakings AND those of a sick, cold-ish toddler.
Ezra came down with an extra-pathetic case of the sniffles, then added a seal-like is that the croup or not the croup? cough, and proceeded to appear -- all moist-faced and miserable, his blankies in hand -- at our bedside multiple times throughout the night and early morning hours.
Usually either immediately AFTER I'd finished nursing Ike and gotten him newly settled back down to sleep, or right at the EXACT second we were treated to the thunderous sound of a freshly filled diaper.
And so, one of us would shuffle off to clumsily fumble with a diaper change while the other squinted at bottles in the medicine cabinet, debating whether to continue with the homeopathic honey-based bullshit or try to do some dosage math for the "real" stuff, all while praying that OH DEAR LORD, please please please don't let Noah wake up right now and like, vomit all over his bed to complete the unholy trifecta of late-night kid-related grossness.
I cannot tell you how much I dreaded this scenario. It very near consumed me during my pregnancy, the thought of dealing with more than one wakeful child, of going night after night with a newborn AND THEN not even getting the precious few in-between hours of sleep he would occasionally grant me because SOMEONE ELSE needed me to deal with his misery and fluids. It simply sounded like too much, something beyond my limited tolerance for sleep-deprivation, deeper than my shallow well of patience and sympathy.
(And let's not even discuss Pre-Third-Baby Anxiety-Inducing Imaginary Scenario #474, which involves all three children being awake and/or simultaneously sick, like in a real live three-ring circus version of Go the Fuck to Sleep , AND THEN there's Pre-Third-Baby Anxiety-Inducing Imaginary Scenario #475, in which I am ALSO sick, but still expected to be all Florence Nightingale for everybody else, raaaaaage.)
But of course, we all survived the night. There were some groans at the sound of the boys' bedroom door opening down the hall, less than 20 minutes after we'd foolishly carried a sleeping Ezra back to his bed in hopes that he would stay there instead of thrashing about all sideways and diagonally on ours all night, and maybe a muttered "oh GOD" or two at the sound of Ike's random snuffling and I've-got-gas-related squeaking that was juuuuust loud enough to wake me up in between all the other times I woke up.
But then there was also a moment -- sometime after the point I learned to stop torturing myself by looking at the clock -- when Ezra was sleeping quietly, spooned against Jason, his breathing finally settled by a generous dose of decongestant, and Ike dozed against me, having just slid off my breast into a milky sleep.
I realized that I could, perhaps, finally shift the baby to his swing or bassinet and carry the toddler back to his bed again and close my own eyes and...I didn't. Instead I pulled Ike closer and reached out to touch Ezra's maddeningly long, solid limbs, awed with how full of love and...yes, total happiness I felt, amazed at how ridiculous all those worries had been, in the end.
As cheesy as it sounds, I kept my eyes open because I will blink and these babies will not need me, these little boys will not want me, and I don't want to miss a second of the time when they still do.
Even if it's after midnight. Or later. Or much later.
(Or...moister and messier than I may have preferred.)