She padded down the hallway, the obstacles of the demolition and pending construction stacked tight against the wall, her body hugged the other, shoulder leaning in to guide her. I was on my way back from the downstairs bathroom as I swept her in my arms and into our bed.

Thick waves of cool air billowed behind the plaid curtains, puffs of night kissing our skin. Her body melted into mine as I lowered us into bed. The skin of our bellies touched, the taut skin of mine barely moving as the swell of her sweet little pot belly pressed against me. Her skin was hot, soberingly so. I put my lips to the crown of her head and was startled by the burn.

Her hands moved over my body, seeking out my skin, fingers tracing my arms, shoulders and neck. She pressed her cheek against mine, “Mommy. My mommy.” We stayed like that for an hour, hot and cool skin, suffering and calming. Sean leaned in tousling her hair and murmuring in her ear. She never slept and in fact asked to return to her own bed. Sean carried her away.

This morning the fever still burned and a listlessness was upon her that broke my heart. She was my pouch baby, wanting only to cling and press skin. And so I kept her all day, by my side and on my chest, breaking only to allow her to reach for Sean. Tomorrow we’ll go to the doctor. My hope is that we can nurse her back to Avery before her sister arrives.

I suppose this is a primer for three, for having two arms and three girls, one lap and three stories. All that seems to matter right now is that my baby is hurting and I can’t fix it.