At 3:30 this morning, I was awakened by a distinctive cry. As I swung my legs over the side of the bed, I said to Tim, “David threw up”. To which he responded, “How do you KNOW that?” And I knew because it’s a cry in the night like no other – actually, it’s two cries. The first is caused by the discomfort of severe nausea combined with the fear of what they know is going to happen next. Then there’s silence (the actual throwing up time.) And then the distinctive cry of shock, fear, shame, and revulsion, a combination of feelings unique, I believe, to vomiting.
Those of you who are parents (and anyone who isn’t has most likely stopped reading already) know this drill. I never experience that overwhelming feeling of “I have no idea what to do first” like I do when my child vomits. (Actually, that overwhelming feeling is preceded by the realization that I would pay someone. Anyone. a lot of money to walk into my child’s room at that moment so that I didn’t have to. ) The list of to-do’s seems endless in the middle of the night: Clean up David. Put on new jammies. Clean up the floor. Strip the bed. Start laundry. Put towels on the bed. Remake the bed. Get the bucket from the basement. Turn my pillow over in case some stomach-flu germs got on my pillow during snuggle-time. )
We divided and conquered. (There are many times I’m thankful that I have a spouse, but never more than throw-up time). I took David into the bathroom (Is there a way to comfort your child without actually having to touch him?) and did the kid clean-up/jammie change, etc. Tim started on the room clean up. Luckily, most of it landed on the bare floor (thank goodness the new rug for the kids’ newly-remodeled room wasn’t in the budget this month!) I started the laundry. Tim made the bed. We put the kids back to bed.
Then came the sleepless horror for the next hour, as I imagined what the next week could be like, as we all go down with it: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Wondering in what order we’d go.
With daylight came the realization that David hadn’t thrown up again, and the hope that maybe it was a fluke, caused by severe coughing or some other random event of the universe. So far, everyone seems okay. Keeping my fingers crossed. And washing my pillowcase, just to be sure.