I almost missed the sunrise this morning. Pringles woke us up with her loud diaper blow-out at 2:38 instead of 4:00. Odie and I had switched sides of the bed earlier because Viva (my new name for V, who used to be called “Baby V until she told me, “I’m NOT a baby!”) needed some mommy comforting. Our “family bed” set up has Viva’s crib sidecar style with the front removed, and an Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper on the opposite side. After two wonderful and misleading nights of five hours straight sleep in the A.R. Co-sleeper, Pringles decided in mommy’s arms was the only place to sleep. I spent several uncomfortable nights sleeping upright on my couch with the baby in my arms propped up on a Boppy, but my back, neck and tailbone told me that shit wouldn’t fly.
So we bought the Snuggle Nest for fifty bucks (way overpriced in my opinion, but I like it), and put it in bed between our pillows. Pringles slept in it on the first night for nearly two minutes before loudly protesting the absence of my boob on her cheek. But it’s getting better. Last night I put her in the Snuggle Nest at eleven and she woke us up at 2:30.
Odie took her to the living room for a diaper change and I rolled over to hug my pillow in ecstasy. Mommy brains don’t shut off, however, and I realized that Pringles would have blasted through her onesie and her Aden and Anais swaddle blankets. I delivered clean clothes and blankets to Odie, then took my crying baby from his arms, trying to avoid a Viva wake-up.
This was so much easier with just one baby. We didn’t have to worry about her crying waking anyone up. Our neighbors’ houses are not close enough for the sound to carry unless everyone had their windows open. Inside our small house, taking the squalling tot into another room is barely effective. We must be quick to soothe. Pop that baby on a boob and get her quiet. Last night it didn’t work. A few moments after Odie returned to our bedroom, leaving me on the couch nursing, I heard the cranky cries of a too-soon awakened toddler.
Everyone settled back down and I fell asleep sitting up on the couch. Pringles jolted me awake, though, right as the firey sphere made its debut over those eastern mountain ridges.
Viva toddled out to the living room at 6:30 and whispered, “Come back to bed, Mommy,” which I did, gladly. That lasted about thirty minutes and then it was “I want to get up, Mommy. Make the cats move. They’re PESTS.” The Orange One and the Gray One think that they are part of the whole “Family Bed” experience, but Viva has other ideas.
Lots of other ideas. She wanted some milk, but not in a pink cup. In a green cup. When I handed her the pink cup, finding no green cup clean, she went all global thermonuclear meltdown on me. Within a minute, our house was full of toddler screams of existential agony and infant cries of hunger and anger. Odie cannot comfort Pringles when she wants boob, nor Viva when she wants to prevent being usurped by the newer, smaller, pinker, louder model. Odie tried to hand me a hungry crying baby while Viva threw herself at me screaming “NO! HOLD ME, MOMMY! HOLD ME! DON’T HOLD THE BABY!”
This was a “pull the emergency slide” kind of morning. What amazes me is how calm I am able to stay throughout. It isn’t easy. My parents regularly yelled at us kids. My mom in particular (probably because she was around more and had to deal with it alone) was an out of control screamer. Later, in my teens, I would see books by her bed, “The Dance of Anger” and “Rage-o-holic.” She admitted a problem and apologized in family therapy sessions. I will be honest, though. The damage was done. Our relationship was irreparably harmed by years of her inability (or unwillingness) to control her temper.
I do not yell and scream at my daughter. I want to sometimes. This morning, after she finally got her bleeping green cup of milk, she continued to cry and whine. Even after I held her instead of the baby. Then she refused to brush her teeth, escalating her whining to screeching in what sounded like 10/10 on the pain scale. For an encore, she protested putting on her shoes and socks, announcing, “I’m not going to school today.”
Maybe the calm I’m able to maintain (on the outside) is the difference between being a mother of two at 39 and being a mother of three at 23. That’s how old my mom was. In addition, I have a loving and supportive partner with the same work and vacation schedule as I. Odie gets mad. Last night, when Viva was whining and tossing in her sleep, kicking the back wall of her crib, I could tell by his deep frustrated sighs how mad he was. Homeboy was tired. We hold it together as best we can. Neither of us wants to give our girls the out-of-control raging parents we know we could be.
We just wait until they’re asleep and drink heavily.