Thursday, February 17, 2011

the next post

The day that I published this post, I woke up to a coughing and crying Bean on the monitor. The cough was dry and raspy, unproductive. I moved fast to her room, blinking sleep from my eyes.

The morning that I published that post, I brought Bean back to my bedroom. I turned on Super Why and exercised. She lounged on the bed, eating pretzels, coughing. Coughing. Coughing. Before too long, she moved herself to the floor. She wanted to say hello to Phoebe. I sensed a long day ahead, dressed myself in a faded t-shirt and baggy sweatpants. When I came out of the bathroom, Alice was laying on top of Phoebe, loving her a bit too much.

The morning that I published that post, I put Bean in time out for being rough with the cat. She coughed her way down the hall to her bedroom. I put on some socks. It was a long three minutes, a surprisingly quiet three minutes for time out. When I walked into Bean's room, I found her dancing in front of her crib with Bo the blanket draped over her head.

The morning that I published that post, I made Alice cry because I startled her. With the blanket firmly on her head, she didn't see me coming. She also knew that she was supposed to be sitting quietly in time out, and was, instead, dancing in her bedroom with Bo on her head.

The day that I published that post, Alice stood in her bedroom and threw up at my feet: pretzels, water. Her face contorted, choking and gasping. I held a bowl in my hands and kept repeating a familiar mantra: it's okay, it's okay, it's going to be okay.

The day that I published that post, I did a load of laundry. The first of many. I washed Bo while Alice cuddled the already much loved and appreciated Baux. She was still coughing two hours later when I cleaned up another round of vomit: this one on the living room floor - cereal and fruit and juice.

The day that I published that post, Alice and I made an emergency run to Walgreen's and the grocery store. We returned to the house with juice and Pedialyte ice pops and homeopathic cough syrup. Her coughing rewarded us with another round of throw-up.

The afternoon that I published that post, Bean sat on the couch munching Cheerios while I did my level best to clean the floor and start another load of laundry. I came downstairs after starting the washing machine to find Bean skipping in a mad circle around the coffee table, throwing Cheerios in a high reaching arc across the living room. We sat together on the floor as I coaxed her into drinking a small cup of warm apple juice with honey.

The afternoon that I published that post, I held Alice's small body in my arms. I read her two stories before she drifted into a fitful sleep. I listened to her coughing over the monitor.

The day that I published that post, Alice woke up from her nap with a rumbling tummy. We quickly added diarrhea to the list of the day's maladies. Also another load of laundry.

The day that I published that post, I spent the late afternoon doing anything and everything that could be fun for a sick little girl whilst trying to maintain a potty training regimen. Things like singing multiple and completely made-up choruses of The Wheels on the Bus while the little girl sits on the loo. Things like deciding that the Daddy's on the bus say "Hey Alice" for yet another rousing round of the song. Things like spontaneous dance parties in the bathroom and games of hide-and-go-seek when the little girl repeatedly hides in the same place for each turn (behind one of the living room side chairs). Things like a Pedialyte ice pop picnic with the little girl's favorite stuffed buddies.

The evening that I published that post, we made pancakes and drank juice, Alice and I. We toasted a successful two hours without any vomit.

The evening that I published that post, I gave Bean a warm bath and crossed my fingers for the coughing to stop. I lathered her small body with eucalyptus rub, I told her she was going to have a wonderful night of magical dreams. When I asked her if she had a good day, she smiled and closed her eyes to whisper Yes oh yes.

The night that I published that post, I lay in bed listening to Alice's breathing on the monitor. I rushed into her room several times through the night to coach her struggle through a choking cough. Afterward, I would stand in the dark of her room and watch her perfect face settle into sleep.

The day that I published that post, I spoke to my husband several times. We talked about Alice - how she was doing, how often she'd managed to throw up directly on my person, and the blossom of her smile. We talked about our life together - the small things you say to each other in quiet tones. We talked about our hopes for the future. And we talked about that post. He wanted to know if I was okay.

The day that I published that post, I thought about motherhood. It is a demanding job. A dirty job. A job of cleaning up messes that have a way of dividing into infinite piles. Motherhood is messy. I don't do well with messes. I am a list-maker, a planner, a person who ticks off items on an agenda. This is a nice way to say that I don't do spontaneous. I worry and fret. I draw up plans and study maps. I don't throw Cheerioes in the air to let them fall where they may. Except... I do. I have done. Motherhood has loosened my laces, even a small bit. It's given me the strength to wipe up vomit and throw bathroom dance parties.

I want to do it again, even if it's going to be hard. I have the luxury to say that I want to do it again, when so many people do not. So many women that want one child of their own don't already have a little one sleeping in the next room. They want one, will be perfectly happy with just that one. It feels greedy to say that I want to do it again. But there it is: yes, please, I want to do it again.

The day that I published that post, I thought long and hard what I would tell you here, in this, the next post. That thinking took me late into the night as I listened to my little girl coughing and struggling through sleep. I came up with this: my situation is much much luckier than most. We struggle with an infertility that can't be diagnosed in a clinic. It's a situational infertility, so to speak - in that our situation, at this point in time, isn't conducive to another baby. As much as I'd like to take that leap right now, as much as I am thronged by pregnant women who have leaped - who are leaping - who are committed to this huge next step---- it's not a leap that will work for us right now. This weird limbo of wanting and needing, of knowing and deciding, it's terrible and painful and messy. Like motherhood.

But if that's true, then it also has the promise of something so brightly wonderful---- so utterly, indescribably, and impossibly perfect. Something that will push us to the end and beyond. Something that will transform us. This is the journey we're on. I'm glad to have you along for the ride.


Sibley Saga .... said...

I envy your ability to verbalize the mess that motherhood can be. I had one of those nights with a sick little girl, coughing, coughing, yaking, coughing. My brain goes to automatic survival mode. There's no way I'd be able to write something beautiful today. I'll count the day a success if there's only one load of laundry and if I brush my hair and put makeup on.

And I wish I could make that leap, too. I want my wee sickie one to have a playmate.

ixBeths said...

It is hard. It's so hard, but it's so great. (Note: I always think it's greatER when my children are at school or asleep.)

Another baby will happen for you and Chip and Alice. Someday, now or later. And it will work out; it always works out. And the motherhood will be even messier than before.

Sara Hammond said...

Faith. You have it in spades. I have always struggled to express the desire in my heart and how it can coexist with the knowledge in my head that it is not the right time. Thank you for this post today. It is well said.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Ah, yes. This is how it works.

And I agree with Sibley Saga... you are impressive for composing this after spending a day and night with a sick little one.