Just when things seemed to be progressing nicely having turned the corner from the month from hell, Alicia has picked up a bug which has left her with a streaming nose, a nasty cough – and more importantly – a reason to scream at 1am in the morning.
Well, I say 1am, last night it started around 9.30pm. She coughs, loses her dummy, then screams bloody murder until her dummy is replaced. Normally she’ll plug it back in herself, but she’s so distraught at the pain resulting from the cough that she just lays there screaming. It has to be heard to be believed. Incredibly, Ana and Laura snooze on through.
Last night we tried a different tactic. I brought her downstairs and kept her in my arms. I know, red alert, bad habits forming, etc. But it’s where she’s at her comfiest, and she’s near so I can plug the dummy in instantly. She slept well enough, bar a couple of coughing episodes, thanks in part to the Nurofen I administered around 10pm, followed swiftly by about 150ml of milk, enough to seal the deal it seems. Not long after I laid her in the comfy pram to continue sleeping and off I went to relax on the sofa nearby.
Usually I’m great at sleeping through the various noises the girls make during the night – much to the annoyance of Mrs H I should add – but around 1am I distinctly remember waking to the noise of Alicia taking a deep breath. This could only mean one thing. Scream incoming. A scream to wake the neighbours. Hell, a scream to wake the dead. Indeed, that’s exactly what happened. I had her in arms in seconds and in the same movement was already headed towards the microwave to warm a little more milk.
I know. Red alert again. Bad habits…. you know what, though? I don’t care. They’re my girls and if the comfort of being in arms or taking a little milk at 1am in the morning helps them deal with illness, I’m happy to do it. Experience already tells me that at this age, 11 months and counting, habits don’t last anyway. They are constantly in flux. One of them will have a dawning realisation that our way isn’t the only way. They’ll insist on their way instead. Eventually we find a happy medium. This is how it is.
Soon enough our girls will be one year old. It’s usually the first milestone for most parents, but for parents of premature triplets it’s just another milestone in a long line of milestones.
Even so, I can’t wait. It signals a new chapter in this incredibly tiring, thrilling, frustrating and fulfilling experience.
Soon enough they’ll be drinking by themselves, fastening shoelaces, heading to big school, bringing boyfriends home (or girlfriends, I don’t care), taking driving lessons, leaving the nest, getting married and, most frightening of all, choosing our retirement home.
The most exciting thing for me personally is knowing that they’ll soon start filing select memories away in long-term storage. These will fade over time but it’s incredible to think that in 20 years or more, they might just recall, through a hazy cloud-filled did-that-really-happen-or-am-I-imagining-it filter, a memory of an amazing dad (that’s me!) helping them deal with a particularly nasty illness. Not this one, I know, still too early. But there will be others.
One of my earliest memories is of my dad staying up all night to nurse the runt of my pet dog’s litter of pups. This was back in the days when dogs not cars owned the streets, and long before dogs were neutered as a matter of routine. Kim, my dog, always had nine pups, and the ninth was sometimes a runt, having failed to get enough nutrients in the womb. Usually they survived but this time the runt was in a lot of trouble. I went to bed assured that my dad would stay up, and he did. I know this for a fact because I went downstairs to check during the night, and he was sat on the floor in front of the gas fire, holding the pup, stroking it’s head, offering the only comfort he had to give.
The heart-wrenching memory of my dad, the authority figure in our family, staying up all night to comfort a dying puppy, has remained with me from that day to this. He was a hero to me that night.
I’d like to be a hero to my girls.