It's been four all nighters in a row for Mommy. She hasn't partied this hard since college. The baby, who turned 10 months old this week, has been getting up every two hours between midnight and 6 a.m.
(I'm not even kidding.)
The nightly dance begins with the late night feeding before mommy "goes to bed." She wonders why she even bothers going to bed anymore. Maybe she should just drink Diet Coke and spend all night doing her online editing work. At least then she'd be making some money and enjoying her favorite beverage.
Mommy says to herself every night, "This is the night that I won't feed him every time he wakes up." For crying out loud, the kid is 21 pounds and is crawling so fast that if he was a cartoon character, he'd have smoke billowing behind him. He should be utterly exhausted.
She knows that if nothing changes, nothing will change.
But by 2 a.m. most nights this week, Owen is up again. Mommy just gives in and nurses him because she believes its the quickest route back to her bed. When he refuses to go back to sleep, she banishes him to the the pack and play in the walk-in closet where, if he can't see her, he'll settle down better.
By 4 a.m., Owen is often wide awake again. Same routine ... Booby juice. Back to bed. Pray that no one else wakes. Four a.m. is a favorite wake time around here. Daddy gets up to go to work. Fiona sometimes tries to get up and Danny sometimes chooses 4 a.m. to freak out about not getting a glass of lemonade before bedtime the night before.
"You just forgot to give it to me," he wails. Then he drifts peacefully back to sleep as if nothing has happened.
By 6 a.m., baby is usually up for the day. Danny is now fast asleep, exhausted after his early morning freak out. And Fiona is usually flipping out because she just watched from her bedroom window as Daddy pulled out of the driveway. This is when Mommy starts plotting how to synchronize naps that afternoon. After a particularly rough night, Benadryl and ear plugs or boarding school come to mind.
Mommy can't really remember much from the first two nights, but the third and fourth night and morning stand out ...
Morning number 3
Mommy banishes the baby to the closet around 4 a.m. She and the dog pass each other as he leaves his "bedroom." He doesn't want to sleep near the kid either.
She woke up at 6 a.m. to the sound of a door knob turning.
Fiona? Nope. Fast asleep.
Danny? Fast asleep, too.
Only one kid left.
Mommy goes to the closet to find the baby wide awake, standing in his pack and play and jiggling the door handle.
(Crap. He's figuring out door knobs now.)
She gets the baby up and greets the dog who is curled up at the top of the stairs.
"Come on, Bob. Want to go outside?"
She could have sworn the dog shook his head as he got up and slunk to the closet to get some rest. After all, that is his bedroom.
Morning number 4
5 a.m. Baby hits the closet. Again. She hates that this is her only solution. She hears the jingle of the dog's tags and his soft fur brushes her leg as they, once again, pass each other.
The baby cries for about 40 minutes. Then nothing. It's 5:40 a.m.
Mommy wakes up at 7:00 a.m. to the sound of her older two kids playing together in their rooms. Miraculously, they are not fighting. They actually sound like they're having a good time. She should probably get up, but drifts off to sleep. When she wakes again, the voices are a little farther away.
"I've got the apple juice. It's heavy. I'm strong. I'm handling it," yells the 4 year old.
She leaps out of bed and throws on some clothes. Turns out, Danny is rolling a full bottle of apple juice from the hall pantry into the kitchen.
Danny comes up the stairs and hands her a children's dictionary over the closed gate that the two of them apparently climbed over. It occurs to her that nothing is safe now that the baby is trying to figure out door knobs, the other two can climb gates and the 4 year thinks he can "handle" a full bottle of apple juice.
"Here, mommy. You need your book to read the words and make me French toast."
She peers down the stairs and sees Fiona in her pajamas wandering around with a fork and a spoon in her hands.
(I just had to giggle at that one.)
The rest of the morning is a blur of burned French toast made with some hastily whipped up powdered milk, PBS Kids on the tele and half a bag of raisins and a pile of nuts strewn across the kitchen floor courtesy of the mistress of mayhem.
And the exhausted, red-eyed baby wouldn't take his morning nap. Not even on a trip to the library.
When the baby looks like he's been smoking pot and even the dog is exhausted, it's time. Commencing Operation Sleep Boot Camp post haste.