The Epinephrine Effect

9:30 pm
Went to bed

11:30 pm
Dog needs to go out to pee

12:30 am
Mabel wakes up and takes her bottle

1:30 am
Coen wakes up screaming from his bed

3:30 am
Mabel wakes up for her second feeding

4:30 am
Coen wakes up screaming from his bed, take two

5:30 am
Mabel and the dog wake up simultaneously to eat and poop (both for both)

6:42 am
Nate wakes up and takes everyone into the living room so I can sleep for one uninterrupted hour

Needless to say, 6:42 until 7:42 was the greatest hour of my night. Hands freaking Down. When I rolled out of bed, I observed myself in the mirror and gasped in horror. Crooked glasses and hair shooting out of my head in every direction, and I won’t even begin to tell you what my eyes looked like. Before I could even stumble into the living room to greet my family, I hopped in the shower in hopes that it would all wash away. Well, my hair looked better, but I still felt like I was running on empty. At these moments, don’t you all wonder, “How on God’s Green Earth am I going to make it through today without falling apart?” Nate came into the bathroom to say he had to leave for work and asked if I was tired, and I started crying. There it was. God’s Green Earth was blowing up in my face. I sighed and said, “Yes. I’m tired” with a not-so-subtle hint of “maybe YOU should get up with them next time” buried in there somewhere. Very much in Nate’s defense, he does get up with the kids a lot. I’m definitely not complaining about that. But, God sadistically created women with a special wiring that causes us to react at NASCAR-pace when our children make the most insignificant peep. When this happens in the middle of the night, I’m the first one up and out the door to fix the problem. This blows up in my face on days like today when I worry about lone survival with two kids and no help.

Adrenaline: A surge in the secretion of epinephrine into the blood system. This was God’s fix-it creation after He realized women might not be so happy about the wiring issue mention above. Adrenaline comes in all shapes and sizes and is caused by all sorts of occurrences, but I am so glad it exists! It is the strength that gets you through days like today (and vacations and injuries and teenage years and arguments and accidents and birthday parties…you name it). It’s a parent’s best friend and we should all keep it in our back pockets.

I used the gift of adrenaline about 85 times today alone. Mabel got her two-month checkup today. I lug both kids into the doctors office and undress my baby for measurements. I have anxiety about her getting shots, so I focus my energies on Coen who is patiently eating Lucky Charms in the big chair. Crash! I turn away for 3.5 seconds and when I turn back, Coen looks sad and guilty, and the floor is covered in cereal. I feel a rush run through me as I crunch the sugary land mines with my feet on my way to the sink to gather paper towels. I want this cleaned up by the time the nurse comes back in. Failure. She helped me clean up and Coen got a sticker. Now how does THAT work? That’s what I call “shameful adrenaline.” (Also, I think it has something to do with my Type A personality that tends to shudder at the thought of a mess, but I’m leaving that element out of the equation for now.)

Then it happened – the shots. Oh, how I HATE newborn shots. ANY shots, really…unless they are my own. The nurse stuck three gigantic needles into Mabel’s beefy thighs and one started bleeding. I was leaned down by her head and her face was bright red from screaming and she wouldn’t exhale and I absolutely despised the nurse for putting her through this. Then, I remembered she was just doing her job and, as she put Clifford band-aids on her fat little legs, I forced myself to look the nurse in the eye, smile, and say “thank you” in an actual tone of appreciation (yay me!). It took 10 minutes for me to calm her down while Coen was emptying cotton balls out of the jars and trying on all the size medium latex gloves from the box. I felt bad, but all I wanted was for my baby to stop crying and maybe, just maybe, the doctors should put those gloves and cotton balls on a higher shelf! Not my fault. Eventually, she stopped crying and I felt better. Still a little sad inside though. I call this “painful adrenaline.” It wasn’t my pain, but sometimes, when it’s the pain of someone you love MORE than yourself, it hurts even more.

On our walk down to the car, we stopped at the little cafe cuz mama needed a Diet Coke. I ordered a pop and a milk for the little man and the owner of the cafe told me not to worry about payment and that he would bring it out to our table for us. I said thank you about seven times and I meant every one. He delivered some dum-dum suckers along with Coen’s milk and I saw him shoot a wink in our direction as he walked away. Happiness. As if that weren’t enough, I started buckling Mabel into her carseat and the cute old man with a Santa Claus beard who is in charge of valet parking for Fairview doctors approached me and asked if he could go get my car for me. I looked at him and asked if he were serious. He said, “Yes, we provide valet parking for busy mothers.” I questioned whether he made up that rule right then and there. He nodded a little but proceeded to assist me. He even carried my daughter to the door and patted Coen on the head. Took my keys, and off he went. My Honda pulled up to the door and I was overwhelmed with appreciation. This is what I call “grateful adrenaline.”

Coen admiring his bowling skills

The night before, I had promised Coen that I would take him bowling today. Little did I know how off my sleep schedule would be, but I’m a mother of my word, so off we went to Park Tavern…only the world’s greatest bar and grill, bowling alley attached. Truth: I have probably never seen my kid so excited about ANYthing in his entire little life. I walked up to the desk and told the guy we wanted to play three games and rent shoes. He could barely hear me because my little Lebowski was staring at the lanes shouting as loudly as he could. “We did it, mommy! We did it! We are at the bowling! I’m gonna get a skrike. A SKRIKE, mommy! We DID IT!!” I just handed the guy a 20 and hoped I had heard him correctly. Best money I’ve ever spent. We walked to our lane and up popped our bumpers. Coen was one proud toddler, walking the ball to the lane, and giving it a good push with two hands, watching in anticipation as it (ooooooooh, sooooo slowly) made its way to the pins, usually knocking over a good chunk of them. We did happy dances and clapped and I caught myself cheering so loudly that the elderly gentleman at the lane three down from us had actually moved lanes by our second game. Well, color me jolly, I didn’t give a damn. If he wanted to crankily practice for his nursing home bar league alone on a Monday afternoon, so be it. I want to give my child a memory he will blather about for the next year! Mission accomplished. We walked out of there on cloud nine, or on what I call “joyful adrenaline.”

We loaded into the car and I sat back in my seat. As quickly as the adrenaline had entered my body, I could now feel it exuding out of me like air from a leaking tire. By the time I pulled up to the gas station to fill up, the little bowler was passed out in his car seat. I felt a moment of peace rush through me. Success. I had survived the day on pure adrenaline. And now, I could breathe easy.

As I carried a sleeping Coen into the house to lay him down for a nap, Mabel started screaming from her car seat. Will she wake up her brother? Is she wet or hungry? Do her legs hurt from those stupid shots? That moment of peace in which I had been reveling was short-lived and I was immediately kicked back into full-parent mode.

Nate came home early from work and (sensing my exhaustion) told me to take a nap. So, I happily slugged into the bedroom, closed the door, emptied my pockets of any remaining adrenaline, and crashed hard. I guarantee it will be there waiting for me when I wake up and I’ll stick it back in my pocket in preparation for whatever upcoming rush will rear its head next. As parents, we need it to survive – good days and bad. Sleep or no sleep, sometimes we all need a little shot of Epinephrine.

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3 thoughts on “The Epinephrine Effect

  1. Anonymous says:

    Especially poignant read, Nicki. Love the courtesies you deservedly reaped by strangers! And could HEAR lil man screaming in the bowling alley. Funny you referred to your pockets carrying your adrenaline without your having seen “Rabbit Hole” where one of my favorite Dianne Wiest scenes contains that metaphor as well. Loved this diary!!!!! Keep it up.

  2. Shannon Klahr says:

    In our house, Coffee and Jesus help too. It really does get better. But that first year they’re born is SOOO hard. Especially on moms. There were times I would hear a noise and wake up standing in the hallway realizing everyone is sleeping soundly. Totally NOT fair that we’re wired that way. Hang in there!

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