Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Friends Helping Friends Week

This was my week to add good karma to my karma bank. Tuesday at four in the morning my cell phone rang with friends calling to say the building across the street from their condo on the south side of the city was on fire and asking if they could come wait out the smoke at our house. Turns out their high rise hallways were filling with smoke and they didn't think that would be good for their one-week-old. Not knowing how long it would take for the smoke to clear, I encouraged them to bring their two cats with them too. Within an hour, I found our house filled with four adults, two cats, and three kids. Luckily, I shared some good karma points with my upstairs neighbor Kelly and invited myself over to her house to stay in her spare room with baby Iain so that Rick could take our couch and our friends could take our room. Rick had just changed the sheets on our bed that night but Iain apparently didn't think they were clean enough because he threw up all over them right after our friends called. His first real throw up of his life and it just so happened to be on newly washed sheets.

Luckily, the building that burned down was a vacate showroom so no one was injured. The smoke cleared by noon and our friends had their lives back to normal a few hours later. It was a nice little impromptu slumber party, but I will say it is pretty weird to have two cats sitting behind your toilet when you have to go to the bathroom and you aren't used to having them around.

And then today I volunteered to watch another set of friends' son and daughter while they had a meeting with their son's new preschool. Normally it wouldn't have been much of a challenge but... I had a three-year-old (Will), a six-month-old (Ella), and my Iain at two-and-a-half-months. One infant scares me. Two infants is intimidating, and terrifying.

Will was an angel. He played quietly and entertained himself really well. I wish I could say the same for the other two monsters. Ella was due for a nap, and Iain couldn't decide if he was hungry or tired or both. The first fifteen minutes were okay, but then things went downhill quickly. Ella wouldn't take a bottle and wanted to be held constantly. Iain took a bottle, but really wanted to nurse directly. They took turns crying for the next forty-five minutes. During that time I had to get lunch ready for Will and help him wash his hands and go to the bathroom. Not an easy task when you have two infants screaming for your attention. Fearing that the screaming would continue for the next two hours, I texted Will and Ella's mom asking for tips. At that point, I had Ella in one arm, Iain in the other arm, both of them screaming their lungs out, and I was trying, unsuccessfully, to bounce them both down the hall in a calming manner. To avoid going deaf from their screams, I decided to divide and conquer. I knew how to deal with Iain so I set Ella in his crib to calm herself down while I nursed him. I turned off the lights in Iain's room and turned on Ada's old mobile and a music do-dad we attached to the crib railing. As I nursed Iain in the rocking chair, Ella rolled to her belly and her screams turned to sobs. I managed to pop her pacifier into her mouth as her sobs started to slow and Iain continued to nurse. A few minutes passed before I was able to sneak out of the room with Ella asleep in his crib and Iain passed out in my arms. It was a miracle, or I just got really lucky. I quickly texted my friends to let them know that all was well in the world again and they didn't need to come back early from their meeting because I had things under control. Luckily, they didn't get the first text that would have potentially alarmed them to the chaos at my house, but they also didn't get the next seven texts explaining that all was, in fact, under control and well with the world since both babies slept for over an hour. So much for text messages being a reliable form of communication.

While we waited for the babies to wake up, Will and I spent the next hour playing with stickers and drawing pictures and having a great time enjoying the silence. It was bliss. And, surprisingly, when Ella and Iain woke up, they were both well rested and in much better moods so dealing with them was infinitely easier. It's amazing what a nap can do!

I only had the three kids for three hours, one hour of which two of them slept straight through, but it was a challenging afternoon. My heart goes out to parents of multiples and caregivers who watch multiple infants at once. It isn't a job I could do everyday but I'm happy to help a friend and add to my good karma bank for when I'm the friend in need.

I'm not sure if good karma points transfer to spouses, but Rick apparently just cashed in some of my good karma as he just walked down our back stairs to take down the laundry and found our red croquette ball that went missing this past weekend. A nice surprise!

Moral of the story: When multiple kids are screaming at you, divide and conquer. Keep in mind that their screams are, hopefully, only temporary. If they persist, seek additional assistance immediately to maintain your sanity.

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