Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Strange Elation

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.


6 comments:

Janae @ Bring-Joy said...

I love this. Some of our fondest memories of the kids happen in the middle of the night. They say & do the funniest things sometimes, & despite the inconvenience, there's an intimacy that happens, a definite connection & sense of purpose as you so perfectly describe.

And for your sake, & hers, I hope Henrietta's bowels regulate soon.

Genevieve Beck said...

I will do my best to be happy next time I have to deal with an accident (however, it's a little harder when they're toddlers that should really know better). However, I do remember that feeling a few times after everyone waking up to clean up a vomit mess and their sweet little gratitude. A very happy birthday to Henrietta! I can't believe a year has gone by. Hope she's feeling better soon.

belann said...

You captured it again. Parenthood is made up of such contrasting moments. Glad you can appreciate those precious moments as they happen.

Giuli said...

It's funny, I read your post and thought about the joys of caring for sick children, and today I'm home with Kizzie because she has a double ear infection and pink eye. I really think that taking care if a sick baby is so much easier when you're not working(or working part time). Today I was loaded with so much guilt because I signed up for a sub and they never assigned one to my job, and I'm only allowed to miss so many days before I'm ineligible for a bonus that would allow us to visit family for Christmas. It's just junky junk. And I'm feeling guilty because I paid someone to watch my sick baby cry yesterday (and didn't call me) while I dealt with severely disturbed third graders who I had to peel off of each other in a fight. I guess in the end it doesn't really matter how many people I inconvenience because my dear girl is felling really cruddy and wants her mommy, dammit. In the end I'm soaking her up and we're watching girl movies while she sings "we didn't start the fire" cause it was on the radio on the way home from the doctor.

Working really sucks sometimes.

Giuli said...

It's funny, I read your post and thought about the joys of caring for sick children, and today I'm home with Kizzie because she has a double ear infection and pink eye. I really think that taking care if a sick baby is so much easier when you're not working(or working part time). Today I was loaded with so much guilt because I signed up for a sub and they never assigned one to my job, and I'm only allowed to miss so many days before I'm ineligible for a bonus that would allow us to visit family for Christmas. It's just junky junk. And I'm feeling guilty because I paid someone to watch my sick baby cry yesterday (and didn't call me) while I dealt with severely disturbed third graders who I had to peel off of each other in a fight. I guess in the end it doesn't really matter how many people I inconvenience because my dear girl is felling really cruddy and wants her mommy, dammit. In the end I'm soaking her up and we're watching girl movies while she sings "we didn't start the fire" cause it was on the radio on the way home from the doctor.

Working really sucks sometimes.

Amara said...

I had the bestest comment on this post when I first read it on my phone, but it goes to this stupid loop and doesn't let me comment. I saved the tab open and then my phone erased it. I do remember it had something to do with pure service opportunities and how rare they are. Babies are special in that way. They can't care for themselves, the service is necessary and beautiful. As people grow up and need help in one way or another, we have to make judgement calls --figuring out how best to help --are we helping or enabling? Does their gratitude make a difference to us? It shouldn't, but ingratitude is so disheartening...anyway, love babies and small children for that reason.