I’m trapped. I’m being held hostage.
My captor is twenty four pounds, covered in snot, and will only sleep if being held upright. For the last three days. His snores sound like the bubbling of primordial ooze and gunk flows out of every orifice.
I think I’m developing Stockholm Syndrome.
I stare out the window and wonder what I would be doing today if I hadn’t had kids yet. Sleeping still, or just laying in bed with the quilts pulled around me, wondering what the day would bring. I know what this day will bring. The first day of a baby’s cold is for pinning organic chicken soup recipes and researching the best essential oils for toddlers. The third day is for only consuming things that come out of a box and can be eaten by the handful.
I can hear his older brother coughing in the next room. I’m not sure why I have been insistent on wiping down the bathrooms and washing our hands over the last few days when germs can be directly applied to the face by a little one’s sneeze. The cold settles into my chest as well and burns my throat. I hold my breath, not daring to cough. The little one coughs in concert with his brother. He sounds like a seal. A seal that has been smoking for the last twenty years.
We sit in the chair, rocking, rocking, rocking. He alternates sucking on his pacifier and taking it out to breathe. I pray that he falls soundly enough asleep so that I can move, take a shower, eat. Eventually, he does. I don’t move. I stare at his gunky nose, feel his warmth, stroke his curls, appreciate his rare stillness.
After a while, we enter into hostage negotiations. My captor agreed to release one hostage, but only in exchange for another. He snuggles into my husband’s chest, rocking, rocking, rocking.
I am free.
I peek back through the door at them. They sit there rocking, snuggled in a noisy heap, a mix of sweatpants and applesauce encrusted curls. I am captivated.