There is nothing like a bad weekend to make you appreciate the little things in life.
This past weekend was Matt's family's annual whiskey tasting at their up-north cabin. The cabin is 4.5 hours away and I'm 33 weeks pregnant. We thought long and hard, changing our minds on a daily basis, until we finally decided I'd be fine and Matt could go. I arranged diversions for each day he'd be gone - something to do to help ease the stress and help the days pass. The girls did both have small colds and low-grade fevers, but they didn't seem to be anything drastic.
Friday went exactly as planned. The morning trip to Target - where each girl got an inexpensive new toy - went as well as any trip to a store with two young kids can go, the afternoon passed in the usual way without any particular meltdowns (thank you, new toys), and in the evening, an exhausted Abigail fell asleep early and Eleanor and I stayed up and played until she fell asleep at her normal bedtime. When I finally curled up in bed, I felt tired but confidence - filled with a sense of self-assured pride in my ability to parent alone all weekend.
Early Saturday morning, before my alarm had gone off, I heard Abigail stirring and trying to wake up Eleanor by passing her favorite toys into the crib. I groaned - I had hoped to take a quick shower before the girls woke up. I checked the clock: 4:32am. What?! I knew there was no chance I could ignore this - Abigail would give Eleanor so many toys that her crib would be choked full and Eleanor would not have space to fall back asleep. When I opened the door to the girls' room, my nose was greeted with a blast of that smell. You parents know what I'm talking about - diarrhea. I pulled the toys out of Eleanor's crib, grabbed Abigail and her blanket, and headed to the bathroom. Abigail was clean. Eleanor? Blown-out, down-the-leg, dried-on mess. At 4:32 in the morning. I cleaned and changed Eleanor, found her new pajamas, and deposited her half-asleep body back in her crib. I brought Abigail to bed with me, hoping to convince her to get in a few more hours of sleep. But Abigail was of the opinion that, as long as we were in bed, why not get up a frolic around? I tried putting her in the pack 'n play and staying in the room, leaving her alone and sleeping on the couch, bringing her to the couch with me, but finally, at 6:30am, I gave up and made coffee. When Eleanor got up at 7:30am, I discovered another blow-out.
Abigail is a very chipper morning person and so the next hour or two passed relatively well - I was even relaxing on the couch with a book - until I realized that the kidney pain I'd started to feel Friday morning was actually a kidney stone and it was now trying to pass. It wasn't painful, but it was uncomfortable. Anytime I moved or the baby moved, it became very uncomfortable. It was of course at this time that Abigail's early morning started to catch up with her. She retreated to the bedroom to play alone, and as long as Eleanor stayed in the living room, everything was fine. But if Eleanor went into the bedroom, Abigail would yell at the top of her lungs until Eleanor cried and left. Eleanor would come running back to the couch looking for support, but the kidney stone made me loath to move except when the diarrhea returned and I was forced to change a diaper.
The stone passed relatively quickly and I again started to resemble a parent. Matt was calling every few hours to check on us, but now that I was active again, I thought I could handle the craziness. I managed a few calm, structured activities, including reading books and singing interactive songs (like Wheels on the Bus), until Abigail and I were so tired, we could barely handle anything. Eleanor picked up on our moods, and by this point, the girls were so irritable, they were egging each other on. Even though the kidney stone had passed, I'm still hugely pregnant. There is no "popping up" from a sitting position, getting up off the floor takes a moment, and bending over and lifting up a screaming, kicking preschooler from the floor usually involves either back or ligament pain or contractions. I responded to Matt's texts honestly, letting him know that we were barely holding it together. Half of me was ready to ask him to come home, half of me pinned my last hopes of salvaging the day on naptime.
The morning climaxed right as Matt called at 11:30am. Eleanor grabbed Abigail's special blanket and streaked across the room. Abigail screamed at the top of her lungs and charged after her, ripping the prized possession out of Eleanor's hands and shoving her for good measure. Eleanor came running over to me screaming to the point I started checking for blood (after a thorough check, I am pretty sure she didn't get actually hurt). Both girls climbed onto the couch with me, hitting one another and hitting me for not responding to their pain. Somewhere on the other end of the line, I could hear Matt say, "Screw it - I'm coming home!"
By noon, I'd passed a kidney stone, been awake for almost an entire workday, changed a handful of explosive diarrhea-filled diapers, and let me remind you, I look like this:
There is no part of me that was not totally and completely DONE with the weekend.
I strapped each girl in her booster seat, made lunch, and put Eleanor down early for naptime. Abigail, I knew, would be way trickier. She has long since stopped napping and usually my attempts to secure her in the pack n' play end up with me giving up after an hour and discovering that she's ripped all her clothes and diaper off. Long story short, five minutes before I was going to retrieve Abigail from the pack n' play and give up on napping, she fell asleep. Within minutes, I too was asleep on the couch.
We all slept. When we all woke up, the girls played nicely together. Even though the day had been largely recovered, Matt was halfway home and I was in no mood to spend any more of the weekend parenting alone. He got home shortly before dinner and until bedtime, the hours passed smoothly.
At 7:30pm, we put the girls to bed and snuggled up on the couch together to watch a movie. It's not at all uncommon for the girls to play a little bit after we put them down, so we paid no mind to the noise we heard emanating from their room. The timeline starts to blur together here for me, but at one point I realized that the bedroom light in the girls' room was on! We put all the toys away and turned the light off. I think we did that twice, at one point Matt tried to lay on the floor in between the crib and the toddler bed, then I tried again at another point. Finally at 10:20pm, I got Eleanor to sleep and Matt decided to just stay up with Abigail. I think he said she finally fell asleep somewhere in the neighborhood of 11:30pm. As I lay in our big, comfy bed with my giant belly, I felt so very thankfully that Matt was home.
Sunday was finally a day of respite from a Saturday of disasters. Eleanor fell asleep on Matt's shoulder within minutes of Mass starting, Abigail (who is actually usually really good at church), was really good at church, and - to my great pleasure and surprise - during coffee and donuts after church, the girls ran around the hall nicely together while Matt and I lingered over coffee. We'd asked the babysitter to come out on Sunday for an hour or two so that I could spend a bit of me-time in a coffeeshop, but after Matt came home, I decided to keep her on the schedule and instead of me-time, Matt and I went out to a local sandwich shop and bookstore for a little lunch date. The nearest sign of trouble arrived with bedtime.
We put the girls down at 7:30am and within minutes, the bedroom light was on and the girls were playing again. I put a large strip of packing tape on the light switch, forcing it to say in the down position, took away the "soothing sounds turtle" nightlight, and the all-night plug in nightlight. The room was completely dark. Within 14 minutes, Abigail was in bed, snoring.
Even though Matt was only gone for 30 hours, it was like I hadn't seen him all weekend. He smelled good, his arms around me felt good, the knowledge that he was nearby on Saturday night when I fell asleep was good. It was definitely a case of "distance makes the heart grow fonder." All of my other cares faded away and the only thing that mattered was seeing his face and hearing his voice.
Part of me wanted to blog about this because I can't believe all that went down before noon on Saturday and I survived! But part of me wanted to blog about it for self-justification purposes. I know some of the people at whiskey weekend thought we were over-reacting. Most of them either didn't know about the kidney stone or are sick of "Jacqueline's kidney issues." They forget that I look like this...
and wonder that I can't handle a couple of sick kids with diarrhea. I want to tell someone, "Look - I'm not weak! I tried, I really did, and I really wanted to succeed. I was not over-reacting." I know it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, but I wanted to talk about it anyway.