The Italian poet Dante wrote a story called “The Inferno.” It’s an amazing piece of work, wherein Dante describes his descent through the nine circles of Hell, guided by none other than Plato himself. Plato gets to play tour guide in this one because he was a non-Christian but, in Dante’s opinion, still one of the good guys who ended up residing in Purgatory. Dante’s “Inferno” is written in intricate rhyming stanzas with brilliant imagery, calling up all the details of the nether realm, right down to his visitation with Lucifer at the very bottom of Hell. It’s truly astounding to read.
My own descent into hell last not was not nearly so imaginative. It started early yesterday afternoon. I was having trouble getting Sam to go down for her nap. Normally, I can nurse her down with no problem during the day. It’s night time that’s usually the nightmare. But yesterday, I couldn’t get Sam to settle to save my life. She’d nurse and fuss and fuss and nurse. I tried repeatedly to put her in her bassinette, only to have to pick her up again because she had blown out her diaper or spit up all over herself. Sometime around 5 PM, she finally fussed herself to sleep. Cassie didn’t get up until 6PM from her nap so I managed to squeeze in an hour of work. Then things really got interesting.
Michael left at around 7PM to go to karate class. I went through the usual evening routine of misbehavior and tantrums from Cassie. I had to hold Sam through all of it because she kept wailing. I finally got Cassie into bed just before Michael came home. Being completely exhausted, I put Sam down in her car seat to cry for a while as I tried to prepare for the next day. I kept hoping she’d cry herself out and fall asleep. That never happened.
Fifteen minutes after Michael got home, Sam’s wailing turned to shrieking. Michael picked her up and held her while I finished off my evening chores and tried to do most of the next morning’s chores as well. She fell asleep on her daddy around 10:30 PM. Relieved, we took her upstairs and put her back into the car seat to sleep (she still can’t sleep lying flat on her back). I went back downstairs to get a drink. When I came back up, Sam was awake and screaming again.
The screaming went on all night. Michael and I took shifts trying to comfort her. I tried nursing her, but Sam kept popping off and on again. Michael took her downstairs around midnight and after an hour of rocking her and patting her back, he got her to sleep for half an hour. As soon as he brought her back upstairs and put her back in the car seat, the screaming started all over again. So we ran a hot shower and I took Sam in with me. She calmed down a bit but wouldn’t fall asleep. I got dressed and tried to nurse her. She wouldn’t nurse. I checked her temperature. It was normal. We changed her diaper three times, each time discovering it was full of that damned green watery poop that has plagued us for the last seven weeks. After the last diaper change at 3 AM I took Sam back downstairs and tried putting her in the swing to lull her to sleep. It worked for a few minutes. Then she started howling again. I grabbed a blanket and a pillow and lay on the floor with her. She nursed a little bit and sometime around 4:30 AM fell asleep again. Then she woke up screaming at 5 AM. I took her back upstairs and crawled into bed with her. She nursed again and finally fell into a deep sleep around 5:30 AM.
Then at 6:30 AM I woke up to the sound of Cassie screaming bloody murder. I sent Michael out to check on her. He came back and said she was on the toilet and wouldn’t talk to him. She wanted me. I sent him back out again to try and calm her down. The screaming got worse. Since Sam was finally asleep, I put her in her bassinette and went to see what was wrong with my three-year-old daughter.
Cassie was in hysterics, crying and screaming so hard that I was afraid she’d puke all over herself. I tried calming her, but she was inconsolable. Frustrated and tired, I sent her back to her room and shut the door. Michael lay on the hallway floor, semi-conscious. I waited for a minute until Cassie’s sobs slowed. Then I pulled myself together, grabbed a washcloth, and went in to soothe my sobbing child.
Even now, I still don’t know why Cassie was screaming. I never could get a coherent answer. It may be that she just woke up knowing that Michael and I had descended straight into hell and she wanted to contribute to that experience as much as she could. Or it could be that she was a little jealous of all the attention Sam was getting through out the night. Or it could simply be she had a nightmare. I’ll probably never know.
As for Sam, she continues to scream in between short naps. There’s snot coming out her nose now, and she feels a little warm. I’m going to take her temperature again and keep watching for strange green poop. Later today, around 3 PM, we have an appointment with the pediatrician. In the mean time, I’m doing my damnedest to stay awake and take care of both kids.
I’m in hell, people. That’s all there is to it. The bitch of it is that I don’t even have someone cool like Plato to give me the 25 cent tour.
And people wonder why the mommy and the baby in my profile picture have horns on their head…