My friend's childcare fell through for this week. She works from home, so it's not a huge deal...except for the fact that she has one-year-old twins to keep track of. I have many hands at my house, so we've been helping her out a bit.
Rachel rode her bike over there yesterday morning and played with the twins. She arrived home in good spirits. The twins were quiet and pleasant. She had a great time!
Meanwhile, Miriam was left to tend Phoebe alone while I had my morning meeting (since Rachel was with the twins and Andrew has to go to campus every day this week). When I reemerged—after fifty minutes—I found both girls in tears. Phoebe—with snot running right down her face—had spent the entire time screaming at Miriam, who was about at her wit's ends. Phoebe simply would not be distracted. And then Miriam made the fatal mistake of looking at the clock and saying, "You can see Mom soon!"
How dare she utter the sacred word "Mom"?!
Phoebe went ballistic on her.
So I thought to myself how interesting that was: that one girl could spend 2.5 hours with two babies and come home happy, while the other spent barely 50 minutes with one baby and was in hysterics.
Today Miriam had organ lessons in the afternoon and Rachel wanted to get caught up on some school work (see: she spent 2.5 hours in the middle of the day babysitting the day before), so while the girls walked to the twins' house to pick them up and then played with them for a few minutes, I was largely left on my own with three little babies for a couple of hours this afternoon.
The boys are Phoebe's age gestationally, but by the calendar they are several months older. They arrived in August instead—teeny, tiny preemies. They spent months and months in the NICU. One of them was barely home by the time Phoebe was born and the other came home just in time for Christmas. I gave them milk and milk and milk for a few months.
Anyway, it was fun to see all three of them just climbing all over everything. In that regard they were very similar—very curious, very squirmy, very go-go-go babies.
There is no way I could ever consider sending her off with a "strange" adult if my childcare fell through. First of all, I am the childcare. Second of all, I know it wouldn't go well. She would simply scream the whole time. And folks can only take so much of that before they snap (see exhibit "Miriam in tears after 50 minutes with her"). Sometimes she also just screams for me, too. So that's fun.
100% of this afternoon's screaming came from Phoebe.
He touched my toy! You're not his mom! Hold me! Put me down! How dare you?!
Lest you think she was only bothered because I was picking up "other" babies, please understand that she also gets thoroughly miffed when Alexander or Zoë—or even the cat!—climbs onto my lap as well.
The boys were content to explore the entire time. Their mom sent them with diapers and nothing else. They're still on feeding tubes, so that's understandable. But they didn't, like, get fussy about perhaps being hungry.
Meanwhile, Phoebe demanded to be fed like three times.
She needed a diaper change and then wouldn't let me put her pants back on (I was lucky to snap the onesie) and had a heckuva time sharing her toys (particularly the cacti from Auntie K—and there are more than one of them! But of course Phoebe wanted both). She did have fun having the boys over. She liked climbing up the slide and sliding down with them. She liked showing them (but not giving them) her toys. She liked patting and poking at them.
But—oi!—if she wasn't just her regular, exhausting little self!
When Rachel came upstairs after finishing her history homework I said, "Those twins are easier than Phoebe!"
"I told you!" she said, because I hadn't really believed her the day before. If one baby is hard, two babies must be harder!
I'm positive two babies is no walk in the park. I'm sure two babies is complicated—twice the feedings, twice the changes, twice the sickness, twice...everything.
However! It actually felt really good to be around a couple of other babies so I could realize just how intense of a baby Phoebe is.
Why is she this intense?
Friends, I don't know.
Andrew came home from work exhausted (in part because he'd gotten up with Phoebe at 5:00 in the morning before going to work all day) and fell asleep, so I left him snoozing while I took the kids on a bedtime walk to look at Christmas lights, read stories with them, jammed and teethed 'em, had scriptures and prayer, sang lullabies, and then tucked them into bed. I nursed Phoebe and had her asleep by 9:00. I put her in bed. I went downstairs to help Miriam iron a hem.
I thought all was well.
I mean, I knew Phoebe would wake up. Like, there was no way she was down for the night, but I thought that she'd at least be down for a bit.
But when I came upstairs, I found sweet Benjamin walking the hall with her. He'd turned some primary music on and was bouncing and shushing her.
Evidently she'd woken up like five minutes after I put her down and was screaming at the top of the stairs (I couldn't hear her from the basement), so Benjamin took care of her so that Dad could keep sleeping for a while longer.
I took her from him and put her back to bed...where she screamed at me until Andrew woke up and said he'd take over.
She is still awake being a little fussy-butt.
And once we get her to bed, we'll get anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 hours before she wakes up again. Sometimes it feels like going to sleep at all is pointless. But I have hope that eventually she'll sleep like a normal child.
I have this hope because (a) I must, and (b) my other poor sleepers have turned out fine.
Would it be better if she slept easier? Of course.
I know there are sleep specialists out there, but I remain skeptical of any technique working on my...relatively intense...child.
So I just tell myself that we'll get through it. And now I can take some deep breaths and remind myself that it feels hard because it is hard—because Phoebe is more of a handful than twins.