I don’t know what made me wake up at just after 4 a.m. I did not hear any crying, but I climbed out of bed, though I’m not supposed to, and fumbled my way through the dark hallway. I cracked open the door to Madeline’s bedroom wide and saw Gaba cuddling close to her in the glow of the fish tank.
Then I saw my oldest baby stir and look over at me.
“Madeline, what are you doing up?”
“I don’t think she feels well,” my mom said.
I went to her side and could feel the heat radiating off her body before I even touched her.
“She says her throat hurts.”
“Oh, Honey, you have a fever.”
“How did you know to come in?” my mom asked.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. (A mom’s sixth sense?)
I left to get her some kids’ Tylenol. She started crying and refused to take it. I woke up Dave and he told me to get back in bed.
“But she’s my baby, too,” I said.
I followed him into her room. She reached her arms out, crying, “Mommy! Mommy!” I instinctively climbed in bed beside her.
“You need to go back to bed,” Dave said. “You don’t need to be around her when she’s sick.”
So I found a poor substitute and handed her a stuffed bear. “Here’s a Get Better Bear. Hug it when you can’t hug Mommy.” And I gently placed my hand on her burning forehead while silent tears tracked down her face.
Then I forced myself to leave.
Now, alone in bed, I’m the one trying not to cry. My smallest baby thumps from inside. I place my hand on my belly, and I can’t help but feel helpless and torn, wishing I could be there for all of my babies.