A few weeks ago, we went to church for three consecutive weeks. Each time we'd drop the kids off in the nursery, and retreat to the parent-viewing room with Henry, I felt like I was playing a game of roulette.
Would this be the week the children get sick ... again??
Three days following our third Saturday in attendance, the runny noses began and then, a few days later, the deep-seated (any way you choose to spell it - it was bad) cough that kept the kids up late in to the night, hacking.
Charlie picked this bug up last weekend, and was completely leveled for two days. Despite my fanatical hand washing, I felt myself starting to go down the tubes. I immediately began loading up on Vitamin C and Zicam, which I'm convinced is the greatest home health care product since the Band Aid.
(As a side note, Zicam is miraculous. I am the kind of person that would get a cold and be knocked out for at least two weeks. Now, whenever I feel a cold coming on, I'll start using the nasal swabs and typically, be 100% within a couple days. I swear by the stuff.)
Yesterday, Henry started coughing. I could tell that it wasn't just a superficial cough, it was a deep-in-his-chest sounds like the dreaded bronchitis cough.
Once they were home from the hospital, our triplets didn't get sick their entire first year of life. Although it might seem that keeping three premature infants healthy would be much more challenging than one full-term baby ... it is very difficult to keep an infant healthy when you've got three little people that are determined to kiss him on the lips.
Today, I really wanted to get out with the children. It has been a week since we've had a "big" outing and I thought it would be good for everyone's spirit to go ride on the carousel and train at Balboa Park. I especially wanted to get out because I knew, within minutes of him waking up, that William was going to be our problem child, today. Every day there's a new one. Sometimes two - but always one. It's like they take turns.
"OK, so I drove mom and dad sh*t-batty today. Who's got tomorrow?"
This morning, Charlie went to play tennis and didn't get home until 9:30. By the time he was showered and dressed and ready to leave, it was 10:00. By the time we loaded four children in to the car, unloaded them and changed four dirty diapers, reloaded them, and pulled out of the driveway, it was 10:30. Less than two-miles from our house, Henry started to cry and quickly, started to scream.
Typically cool under pressure, I tried to give him his pacifier, turning around from the front passenger seat while feeling every muscle in my back and neck start to spasm. Henry couldn't be consoled. He was screaming and coughing and turning red and sweat was beading up all over his head.
I directed Charlie to pull over in a parking lot and hopping out of the car, I removed Henry from his car seat. For the next 10 minutes, he screamed. For a baby that rarely cries, I could tell he was terribly distressed. My mind was reeling with what to do. I tried nursing him, I tried burping him, I tried laying him across my legs, I tried walking.
Meanwhile, in the back seat of the car, William was having a conniption fit, screaming and crying "I. GO. TO. PARK. I. RIDE. ON. CAROUSEL. NOW!!! CLOSE. DOOR. MOMMY. I. GO. NOW!!!" Charlie was very patiently trying to explain that the baby was sick and although the girls were gravely concerned, William was oblivious to anything but his own want.
He was kicking the seat, throwing his blanket, flailing his arms and swatting at anything that came near him, including his sister's sweetly outreached hand.
Then, the girls started screaming, too.
Within a matter of minutes, I sent Charlie home, with a van of screaming children, to retrieve the Infant Tylenol, while I stayed behind with Henry in the desolate parking lot.
Instantly, there was quiet.
The baby stopped crying. He looked up at me, smiled and promptly fell to sleep. For the next 20 minutes, I walked around the parking lot, alternating my gaze from the beautiful infant in my arms to the beautiful blue sky above. It was an absolutely perfect day and I felt at peace.
Completely and throughly at peace.
And then, the hell storm on wheels pulled back in to the parking lot.
While William continued with his whining, I loaded a sleeping Henry in to his car seat, gave him a dose of Tylenol, and we continued on our way. I had considered returning home, but I decided that if I was at home, I'd be listening to the whining so why not take the show on the road?
Besides. I really, really needed to get out.
Even though it was now 11:30 and nap time begins at noon.
I'm not quite sure what I was thinking.
Obviously, I wasn't.
We arrive at the park and Charlie takes the children on the carousel, while I stay with Henry who is still sleeping soundly. After a few minutes, I load him in to the stroller and rejoin Charlie and the kids at the train.
The children are having a great time. We are having a great time.
We decide to take a walk. Which turns in to a really long walk that has us on the other side of the park. We're not really thinking about the time. Or, the fact that the only stroller we have is designed for holding one baby. And it is occupied.
Of course it happens that when we are at the farthest point from our vehicle, the children start to have a meltdown. This makes perfect sense since they've just walked two miles and it is now 2:30. Charlie and I give each other looks that say "How could we be so stupid?"
Turning around we start our trek back to the car just as William and Carolyn go boneless, Elizabeth runs in the opposite direction and Henry wakes up.
Henry is transferred to the Bjorn, William is loaded in to the stroller, Carolyn is put on Charlie's shoulders and I tie a rope around Elizabeth.
Once we get back to the car, it is 3:15 and the children can barely keep their eyes open. All three of them are asleep before we pull out of the parking lot.
Because I knew that we would be home in less than a half-hour and our kids would wake up as soon as we pulled in to the driveway, I thought it would be a good idea to capitalize on whatever nap time we could get by driving around for a while.
Soon, we were driving by Costco and when I remembered a few things that we needed for the week, I suggested Charlie quickly run in while I stay in the car with the kids. Just as Charlie tried his best to gingerly close the door when I dropped him off at the front, Elizabeth woke up crying. Which woke up William. And Carolyn. And Henry.
It's debatable what causes more physical pain.
Giving three two-year olds a 15-minute nap after they walked close to four miles?
Or, trying to find a parking spot at Costco on a Sunday, after the football game?
Lucky me, I had both.
And a baby that was crying again.
I circled the parking lot several times, before I noticed that a car was just preparing to leave. Since the car was directly in front of me, I felt confident that I had "marked" this spot before anyone else. Because, there was no way anyone could see the "reverse" lights unless they were directly behind the car.
As the car backs out, I proceed to pull forward when just then, a black Toyota Sequoia with tinted windows and spinners on the wheels, puts on their left blinker and tries to pull in to my "marked" space.
Now. Here's the thing. I'm not sure if having a new baby has done it to me ... or, if having four children in less than three years has done it to me ... or, if skipping the kids nap has done it to me. But today, I diagnosed myself as psychotic.
Because that's the only way I can explain why I would have cut off a black Toyota Sequoia with tinted windows and spinners on the wheels - and when they laid on their horn at me - I showed them that they were number one.
AND THEN, I OPENED MY DOOR AND YELLED AT THEM.
WHILE MY BABIES WERE IN THE CAR.
For all I know, the people in the black Toyota Sequoia with tinted windows and spinners on the wheels, were packing pistols.
I know better. I do. Really.
I'm rational. Right??
I know it's JUST a parking spot.
Here I am, a person that would go to church religiously, if only their children didn't get sick 33.333% of the time. I'm a kind person who makes Apple Crisp for neighbors. A generally non-aggressive person that prays before every meal and bedtime each night. A person that is registered as a blood marrow and organ donor.
And although I'd be more than happy to give the person driving the black Toyota Sequoia with tinted windows and spinners on the wheels my bone marrow - or a kidney - there was no way on God's green earth they were getting my parking spot at Costco, today.
While I watched in my rear view mirror, I saw that they found another parking spot one row over. I only quickly lost my breath when I watched a 350-pound Samoan man step out of the car and glare in my direction. And then, I said aloud "Yeah buddy. You come on over here. I'll open a can of whoop ass like you ain't never seen before!"
I'm sure the man heard me and could have mowed me down like a blade of grass. But he continued in to Costco, glancing over at my car like there was a total psychopath on board.
Which there was. With my four screaming children.
I've thought about this for the past several hours and not only does it disturb me, it makes no sense. I love our children more than life itself and want nothing more than to live and see them grow up. I want to be a positive, influential role model in their lives.
So, what happened??
For the first time ever, I can understand why my mother didn't realize that she was stopped on railroad tracks, even when the crossing gate came down on top of her car full of children and broke in half. It was only when a police officer knocked on the window did mom notice that we were about to be hit by a train.
Mother's who have child-induced psychosis must have angels watching over them.
I know I did in the parking lot of Costco, today.