When we left off, my oldest daughter had just finally finished throwing up like a freshman on spring break, and had drifted off to sleep. Right about that time, (which is now roughly 5:00 am), my middle daughter woke up coughing like a coal miner being rescued from a shaft collapse. At this time, I became painfully aware of two facts. The first was that I wasn’t going to be sleeping at all. The second was that my anniversary with my beautiful bride was going to be nothing at all like I had envisioned it in my mind. Oh well, what can ya do? My children’s health and well being is absolutely paramount to anything else that could possibly happen in my world, so it’s not as if it were open for debate. I went into the toddler’s room, scooped her up from her crib, and relocated to the rocking chair in the living room. She immediately wrapped both little arms around my neck, rested her cheek on my shoulder and stopped crying between bouts of violent coughing. The simple act of my little angel resting her head on my shoulder instantly made us both feel monumentally better.

Meanwhile, my wife was bouncing around the house dealing with issues of her own. It may have been the lack of sleep, it may have been the stress of our children being ill, it may have been the anxiety of potentially missing a day of clinicals, or a combination of all of the above. Whatever it was, she was just delusional enough at this Godforsaken hour to behave as if she were still going to make it to her school day at the hospital, AND stay home and tend to her sick little girls. I’m smart enough even after only two years to the day of being married to this woman, to know not to interject at this point. I just sat quietly in a rocking chair in the darkness holding a now sleeping little girl, and watched it all play out.

If you witnessed the chain of events in the right frame of mind, you would actually find it entertaining. She first took a very quick shower as if she were running late for something, though at least one of us had already realized that she wasn’t going anywhere. She then started ironing her scrubs while simultaneously calling her instructor to inform her that she would be absent and why. She continued to dry her hair and get ready while simultaneously calling our pediatrician to leave a message that we needed the first possible appointment today. This is one of those rare times that I’m glad that my wife doesn’t read my articles. Though I can say with certainty that my father-in-law is going to rat me out and kick me under the bus anyway.

Eventually, after reaching at least a voicemail, if not a human on each of her phone calls, she ceased her hummingbird-like behavior and slowly floated back to earth. My middle daughter had ceased her wheezing and hacking and had drifted back off to a deep sleep. I could have laid her back down in her crib, and even tried to lay down myself, but I got a little selfish. The moments of her laying sound asleep on my chest, with her head resting on my shoulder, her arms tightly wrapped around my neck, her little heart beating against mine, and the sound of her breathing in my ear are few, brief, and fleeting. I know that it’s just a matter of time before she wants nothing to do with that scenario no matter how bad she feels, so I cherish each moment I get to hold her.

Shortly thereafter, the baby woke up. She normally awakens smiling and cooing, but this morning, she was uncharacteristically crying. She evidently did not want to be upstaged by her two older sisters: the puker and the cougher. So she decided to take her place on team infirmary. My wife picked her up and we realized that her nose was running like a Kenyan marathoner. Now, my three sweet daughters, between them had more symptoms covered than the label of a Nyquil bottle. My wife and I are now in the formative hours of our first anniversary together during which she was not pregnant, and my princess, my angel, and my flower are all under the weather. I hadn’t even firmly established a Plan A for today’s festivities, and now I was forced to work on a Plan B.

To their credit, our pediatrician’s office returned our call first thing, and we were able to get an immediate appointment. My wife took the oldest girl and her stomach virus to Salisbury, and left me behind with the two little ones. They were both in good spirits, but clearly a little lethargic and out of sorts. It was myself, two babies, a bunch of toys, and a box of Cheerios on the living room floor, and all was right with the world again.

My toddler made it abundantly clear through repetition, that she wanted to watch her favorite Winnie the Pooh movie. So I found it On Demand, and started the movie. About eight minutes into the movie, the cable stopped working. I hadn’t failed to pay a bill or anything like that, it just ceased to function. The storm raging outside had picked up again and the rain was really coming down, so I can only assume it was attributed to the weather. But that didn’t help me explain to a toddler, and an infant, both of whom are not feeling well why they can’t watch Pooh and his friends.

I tried in vain to explain it to them, but I may as well have been reading a book on flight instruction to a beaver. These two little cherubs were pissed and as far as they were concerned, it was entirely my fault. So I quickly gave them a toy that I knew they’d fight over to distract them just long enough to buy me some time, sprinted to the DVD cabinet, grabbed an alternate Pooh flick, popped it in and made the transition from cable to DVD with the quickness, and efficiency of a jack man on a NASCAR pit crew. The girls hadn’t even noticed my absence, and now we were back in the game with Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet, and the rest of the crew frolicking about on our TV screen. Yet another crisis averted.

The storm raged on, the cable was in and out, and to make matters worse, I received multiple text message updates informing me that four more of my favorite Baltimore Ravens were no longer with the team for a variety of reasons! The systematic dismantling of the freshly crowned Super Bowl Champions continued. This day was getting down right depressing. But still I was undaunted. Being the consummate optimist, I was determined to make this a good day for my kids, and a great anniversary for my wife. I learned quickly that the one upside to having three sick little girls in the house is that when they don’t feel well, they’re all about snuggling. So they spent the day taking turns occupying the valuable real estate that is Daddy’s lap. As bad as I felt for them, I was loving every minute of it.

I was now working hard in my head, desperately trying to figure out how to salvage this day. Check back in next week to find out how it all turns out. Thanks for playing along.

Until next week,

Syd Nichols