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away from the herd that any little bottle/cover readjustment will seem like running a marathon? Try going back to my big girl bed with my partner where I could accidentally wake her up? She sleeps like a hibernating bear prone to fits of rage when woken without warning and before she’s ready. I can practically taste the cool darkness and the smooth 500 thread count sheets. But the thought of trying to lie so still and so quiet as to not disrupt her makes my stomach heave, so I head back to the fluorescent den of sippy cups and half eaten bowls of cheese crackers. I take a big risk, I turn off the light. No sign of recognition from the floor. I slip back into the hard narrow bed.

I stretch my body and think that some

might say I’m lucky. That I know people who would kill for this, for children, for this kind of needy love. I fall into a deep and dream filled sleep where I spend thirty minutes of slumber trying to find my way through a desert populated by burning sand and twisted trees while helicopters cruise overhead. A war is being fought and I must hide. I awake to a soft mewing that for a minute I mistake for a kitten. It’s her now. Her cries quickly become shrieks punctuated by the meaty thunk thunk thunk of her chubby feet bouncing off the mattress.

Back over the toddler, through the creaky

door and into the twin’s room where the air is wet with her tears. I spy her stuck on her belly wedged into the corner. Her bottle out of reach and her covers intertwined through her legs. Her head is turned towards the wall and she startles when I pick her up, she didn’t hear me coming. “Shhhh” I say as I put her back down, righting all her parts and tucking her back in, “shhhh baby”. She rips her bottle out of my hand and is asleep before I can even turn on her mobile. I wonder how long she would have cried if I’d have left her like that. Left her to cry it out. Sometimes I do. Their cries mean different things. How much self

confidence do you have in your listening skills at 4 am? She can trick me. Her little broken wing and china doll foot, they just don’t let a mother trust her intuition anymore. At least not this one. That is how we got here in the first place, trust.

I trusted the doctors and trusted the

books and trusted the relatives when everyone said she was fine. Six months later a chipper neurologist shoved us into an overheated room and enthusiastically pointed to the black blotches on her MRI that showed the damage to her brain from the stroke she had when she was born. It was like taking a bullet. Since then we’ve been spectators of a disaster. Picking up shards of a family. Tucking photos into dusty shoeboxes instead of scrapbooks. Pointing fingers and fighting wars over our kitchen counter. Choosing the color of orthotics and drinking wine on empty stomachs. There is more than one way to mourn a loss, to fight a war.

Toddler is full on snoring. I debate the

validity in my head of calling him a toddler anymore. I should switch, I decide, to preschooler. It is much more accurate and after all, he goes to preschool now and is potty trained and doesn’t “toddle” in the least. And just as I’ve decided this I’ve begun to cry, facing the wall on this stiff bed. We have to get up in few hours and do this whole thing all over again, fight through another day just like the one before it. I decide to try and go back to sleep, and before I can even think about whether it’s possible to sleep with tears leaking from my half-closed eyes I’m out. It’s a coma- like dreamless sleep and I wake up to sunlight filtering through the curtains and to the twins chattering at each other like squirrels in the backyard. I walk in to their room and am greeted with identical crooked lack-o-lantern smiles and peed through pajamas. I smile before I’m sure if I mean it.


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