It was 3:00 in the morning when I heard the first odd noise eeking from the monitor-my enemy, my best friend. I lied there listening, trying to convince myself that my son was just having a dream and must be talking to himself. Oh, he'll just put himself back to sleep, right? Please, oh please, put yourself back to sleep. Then the sounds turned to weird whimpers. What if he's having a BAD dream! He needs me! My eyes pop open, and I make the familiar nightly race up the stairs to my son's bedside. I snuggled next to him, rubbing his back and telling him to just go back to sleep. While I tried to comfort him, I stared up at the ceiling wondering when this would end. Not just my son's possible frightening dream, but me flying up the staircase during the night, pretty regularly for my three-year-old, but still not an unusual occurrence for our newly six-year-old. When will I sleep through the night?
Where did I do wrong? Did we co-sleep with our babies too long? I was warned by many: relatives, friends with children, friends without children, well-meaning comments from near strangers at the grocery store, park, gym, you name it. Did my kids nurse too much? Oh, don't get me started on the unsolicited advice on that topic. (Do you know where I live?!?) Why didn't I let them cry it out? I read the literature, heard the testimonials, watched the videos. Couldn't do it. But did I really have to be at their bedsides as soon as the first peep was made? Honestly, for me I had done pretty well to pause this evening and wait, oh, about 12 seconds before scrambling up to tend to my son. Perhaps that wasn't enough wait time, huh, Dr. Ferber?
So just as I was about to search my soul and figure out where I went wrong to have such night-dependent children. The exact second I was on the verge to come to terms with, analyze, and possibly solve one of my parenting shortcomings. . . my son's murmurings got even stranger. He's not talking in his sleep. It's not a nightmare. As I listened and watched he was sleeping fitfully. Then it hit me. He's getting sick. No fever--yet--but I knew it was coming. I scooped him up and headed downstairs and rocked him in a chair. As the minutes slipped by he was in fact burning up. He woke up and gave me a quizzical face. I'm no Nostradamus, but I recognized the look. I knew what was going to happen next. I yelled from the living room to my husband to come help. Then the puking began. The skyrocketing temperature, the chills, the aches, the coughing soon followed.
How is it that when your child gets sick the whole world stops? Nothing else matters. No previously scheduled appointments, no penciled-in commitments will take place. Most emails go unreturned. You're lucky to check voicemail, and you only answer phone calls from family and the doctor. And that To Do list in my daily planner that I check religiously throughout the day is no longer "really have to do" stuff anymore. Everything else becomes unimportant.
I am relieved to say that we found out later that morning at the pediatrician's office that our little boy did not have one of the hysteria-inducing flus going around, just a "regular, old virus." He slept much of the day and soon signs of returning health were evident. Fortunately it appears to have been a pretty quick, down and really dirty bug. My mommy mental freeze has almost melted, and I have mostly returned to my everyday life.
Last night when I was putting my son to bed, something struck me-maybe, just maybe my unpopular nighttime parenting method paid off the other night. After all, I was able to catch him before he was alone and sick and throwing up in bed. I even got the OTC meds in his system to start the relief a little sooner. Hey, perhaps it's okay that I am so quick to answer my children's nocturnal chirps echoing from the monitor. Maybe it's not completely terrible when I dash up to my kid's room at the slightest sound. Oh no! Stop! It's this kind of rationale that only encourages my enabling behavior! This thinking is precisely how I cycle back into our current nighttime routine! What am I doing?!
As things turn back to normal (whatever that is) and my son fully regains his health, I plan to use this time to figure out how to reduce my sundown sprints. Perhaps it will hit me next time I am cuddled next to his sister. . .