I don’t know what it is about my 1-year-olds, but they can wrap me around their tiny little pinkies in 2 seconds flat. And Rex is no exception. Is it the snuggly jammies? The obsession with shoes and boots?
Is it the way he drags his stuffed T-Rex everywhere he goes? The way he strokes its tail as he drifts off to sleep? Is it his round belly? I mean, look at that belly poking out:
He and I worked night and day for that belly for a whole year. Is that why he can blink and I gush over his cuteness; why I stare at his pictures before I go to bed… and then I grab the monitor and watch him for a few more minutes while he lies still and sleeps?
This boy is sweet beyond words. When a sister is crying, he raises his arms in the air, opens and closes his hands, and grunts his sister’s name impatiently until she comes over and gets a hug, fer cryin’ out loud. Then he lays his head on his sister, says, “Awww” and pats her back.
He even comforted his crying sister who had been sent to time-out for taking a toy from him! (Uh… Buddy? I don’t think you understand what’s happening here.)
The other night, he sat up in his crib and promptly began barking like a seal. We knew it was croup and what to expect because our Emma had croup a few times at his age. But like all things Rex, what we expected and what we actually received were two different things.
We expected to be awake for part of the night. We expected to have to hold him. We didn’t expect Exorcist-style projectile vomit — twice. (I’m not sure why we didn’t expect that — he spent the first year of his life ruining our good furniture, carpet, and clothing with his ill-timed and even iller-aimed vomiting episodes.)
If you’ve ever experienced a baby who vomits every time he coughs, eats, drinks, breathes, or blinks, you get really good at — well… catching vomit. We’re ridiculous experts at Rex’s vomiting signals; one throaty gurgle and we scurry to get a towel, a burp rag, the cat… anything at the ready to catch the impressive amount of contents about to hurl forth from the tiny boy’s mouth.
So we were prepared and able to mostly “catch” the first episode. Although, when you’re dealing in liquids, the word “catch” is a fluid term. Despite our best efforts, we still had some damage control to do. I changed Rex’s jammies and cleaned him up while Ryan changed the sheets on our bed and started a load of laundry.
We took Rex to a steamy bathroom to clear his airways, and then settled down in bed all together, expecting a fitful rest — but expecting the worst was behind us.
An hour later, I awoke to the middle of the throaty gurgles. Alas, my slumber had prevented me from noticing the onset, and I was too late. This one had an even more impressive reach.
Another jammie change, another sheet change, and another load of laundry later, Rex and I snuggled into bed again — this time, with layers of towels protecting the sheets.
And as I lay there with my sleeping baby boy, watching his breaths like a hawk to make sure the croup wasn’t getting dangerous, I was suddenly so overcome with gratitude.
I seriously had to stop myself and wonder if I was understanding my own thoughts. But after a brief examination, I knew that yes — I was feeling gratitude.
I was so grateful to have a croupy baby in bed with me. I was so grateful to be exhausted. I was so grateful I got to clean up vomit two times that night. I was so grateful to be worried about my baby.
And I can’t tell you why, exactly. I’m not a glass-half-full kind of gal. I don’t see the blessings through the trials unless I force myself to look really gosh darn hard.
I was just grateful for that moment. I love my baby. And this was a moment of my baby.
Once you get gratitude going, it’s hard to stop — and soon I was overcome with love and gratitude for all my children and my husband. I was smelling vomit in my baby’s hair, yet I was more grateful for that baby, the sleeping girls down the hall, and my snoring husband than I had been in a long time.
Life is funny sometimes, huh?
And the next day was glorious. The baby was still sick, but I was high on love and gratitude. I was patient; I was loving; I was quite possibly a rock star mother. I was a changed woman, friends.
Of course, when the baby was still clingy and whiny the following day, along with his sisters, this mama checked out.
Gratitude can’t carry me that long.