Henrietta has been sick. She's happy, for the most part. It's not the miserable sort of listless sick. She's just had stomach trouble. Explosions in her diaper. Horrifying puddles on the floor. You see what I'm saying here?
It's lasted a couple of weeks, as her pediatrician told us it would, and though at first I was surprised by how cool I was with it, it has begun to get old. I'm ready for that sort of event to not punctuate our days, and I'd really like to take her places without worrying she'll pass illness to every kid in a mile radius of the park.
One night last week, Sam and I both had trouble sleeping. I was up late working on a freelance project, and after that I couldn't settle my brain down. It was nearly three in the morning when I finally fell asleep, and just after three in the morning when Henrietta woke me up, crying. Or actually, it was Sam who woke me up, saying she'd been crying on and off for fifteen minutes, and maybe we should go make sure she was okay. He was worried she'd had a blowout.
I got up, grumbling. She hadn't had any blowouts in the middle of the night, and I was ready to give him a lecture about how the digestive system slows down at night, and she probably wouldn't have a blowout while she slept.
And then I opened the door to her room. It smelled like a sewer. My little sewer rat was soaked through.
She screamed while we changed her and tried to scrub her down with wipes, and she screamed when I stripped her down and passed her to Sam in the shower. She cried while Sam bounced her and cleaned her up and sang to her, and I ran around trying to change her sheets and find new pajamas and get things ready for her to sleep again. I hoped she'd sleep again.
By the time she was all cleaned up and her crib was all cleaned up, all three of us were wide awake. I put Henrietta in little footie pajamas and gave her Lambie--her comfort object of choice, and set her down so she could walk around for a minute and wear herself out.
A strange thing happened. I felt so happy. It was almost four in the morning, and I'd been woken up by feces, and spent a good long while cleaning up feces. But I felt so motherly, so parental, in the best way. My husband was good and kind and willing to shower with a stinky baby in the middle of the night, and my baby. My baby, who is almost a year old now (tomorrow's the big day!), was walking around in her little footie pajamas, smelling freshly clean, sucking on a pacifier, holding a little white lamb up to her nose, and making humming sounds in the back of her throat. And I was so full of love for her that I felt I'd burst.
Parenthood is made up of these odd pockets of joy, of joy in unexpected places, of strange elation after a run-in with bodily fluids. If you would have told me I'd somehow end up enjoying a night like that, I would have thought you were batty. But I did, thank heavens. And I'm surprised by how often I do.