Last night we had the kids in bed by 8. Branding season is just getting underway around here, and Beau and I have made the (very adult) decision to be intentional about getting to bed early this year — so we can get at least close to enough rest to make it through the next few weeks of early mornings and hard work. And the secret to grown-ups sleeping, of course, is that the kids sleep first.
So the three big kids were in bed when it was still light outside. As has become our tradition, Beau and I watched our latest favorite show on Netflix as I rocked the baby to sleep. After I put the baby down, I finished dicing some rhubarb I’d harvested earlier in the day while Beau checked the weather report. And the two of us were asleep before 10.
I was in a very deep sleep when the two little girls wandered into our bedroom after 11, both of them sobbing. Emi was complaining of an earache, and I think that in her restlessness she’d woken and scared her little sister. (The 5-year-old [Emi], 3-year-old [Marsi], and Baby Muggins all sleep in the same long, narrow room we call the nursery; the baby’s crib is closest to the door, then Emi’s twin bed, then Marsi’s twin bed.)
Though every muscle in my body was longing to be horizontal, and though I couldn’t exactly open my eyes, I shuffled out to the couch with the girls. There, sunk into the cushions, I held the 3-year-old and rubbed the 5-year-old’s back. My techniques worked for the 3-year-old, and soon I lugged her back into her bed. Emi, though, continued to whimper and toss on the couch. Half-awake, I held her and consoled her and did my best to help. The two of us drifted in and out of sleep many times before I finally decided intervention was necessary. I leveraged myself off the couch and limped to the bathroom on legs that were convinced I ought to be asleep. Squinting, holding the measuring cup close to the nightlight, I attempted to measure out a dose of children’s Tylenol. Dang it. The bottle was almost empty — not enough nectar in there for a 5-year-old. I rummaged through the cupboard again. Ah-ha! A brand new bottle of children’s ibuprofen. I fumbled with the plastic shrink-wrap, then with the child-proof seal, and finally presented Emi with a cupful of medicine. She swallowed it down. Fell asleep. Whined in her sleep. Woke up crying. I used a Q-tip to dab essential oil in her ear. She fell asleep. Cried in her sleep. Woke up whining. I grabbed a cool washcloth. She held it to her ear for a while, then marched the washcloth over to the dining room table, returned to the couch and finally. Fell into. A deep sleep.
Somewhere in the night — the details are very blurry for me — as Emi and I parlayed with her sore ear, the 4-month-old baby awoke and cried. Half-conscious, I stumbled in to lift him from the crib.
Problem was, he wasn’t in his crib. I felt around the crib blindly, exploring every corner. Only his soft ducky blanket lumped in the middle.
I could still hear him crying, though, near to his crib. Where in the world was my baby?! My heart beating fast, I stumbled past the crib to Emi’s bed (she was on the couch), and… there. There was the baby. In Emi’s twin bed. Crying. Laying on his stomach. Completely covered by her pink-pony comforter.
I was finally jolted fully awake. I scooped up the little man, hugged him close to my thumping chest, fed him and rocked him back to sleep… the whole time wondering how in the world the baby had ended up in Emi’s bed. He certainly hadn’t started the night there. Beau hadn’t been awake and so couldn’t have removed him from the crib. The kids know they are NOT — under any circumstances — allowed to lift the baby, so I knew they weren’t responsible for moving him. And though the baby does come into bed with Beau and myself, he certainly has never slept in bed with any of the bigger kids.
The only explanation, then, was that the baby had, at some previous point in my restless night with Emi, awoken, and that I personally — apparently sleepwalking and delusional — had picked him up out of his crib and, after feeding him, laid him back down in his sister’s empty bed.
I rocked him and wondered for a good half hour. Finally — his belly full and the last burp coaxed out — I laid the baby down in his crib, safe and secure in his crib. I eventually transferred a sleeping Emi back to her own bed, and — hallelujah! — joined my husband in ours for a precious hour or two.
Beau’s phone rang at 3:30 this morning. It was Vergal, calling from Butte Camp to find out how much rain we got last night. See, today is the first official day of branding, and depending on where the crew is branding on any given day, some of the fellas have to rise extra-early to trailer to the pasture. Vergal needed to know if the branding was cancelled because of rain.
But it’s not. The day is proceeding as planned. And now, as soon as I hit publish, it’s onto my next job: burritos, taco salad, veggies with dip, rhubarb pies, and rice krispie treats. For 14, not counting kids.
© Tami Blake