…but we’re in the race for 2007. Last year ended quite pitifully, with Mama in bed with a stomach flu from late on the 30th until well into New Year’s Day. And promptly thereafter, at precisely 4:45pm on January 2, both DDs became little vomiting geysers themselves. It was not a pretty thing, nor did it smell very good. I proudly claim the title of Iron Jaw J, as I did not once retch myself after my own recovery, even as my children seemed to just spew the most foul-smelling material, as if they were reenacting the Exorcist in our kitchen.
It was Tuesday afternoon, and time to make dinner. DH was due home in an hour, and we were going to have pasta with some sauce from the freezer. (Gotta love the freezer.) I was just finishing up with a diaper change on Number Two, when I heard DD1 cry out. I ran into the kitchen to see her standing in front of the sink, with the most pitiful look on her face. “Oh, no!” she kept saying, “oh, no! I spilled it, Mama!” At her feet was a messy, chunky puddle. I looked on the counter to see what she could have pulled down on herself, but there was nothing there. No upturned containers lay on the floor. What could that substance be? Then it hit me. The smell. Oh, that awful smell. My own stomach rolled and flipped like the clothes tumbling in the dryer downstairs. But I kept it together. “It’s okay, baby,” I reassured her in my Mama voice. “You just got sick. It’s okay. We’ll clean it up.”
The scene reminded me of when DD was just about a year old, and only knew a half-dozen words. She got a little stomach bug then, and threw up repeatedly for about an hour. I got her all cleaned up, and set her down so I could change my own clothes. About a minute later, she stood up with the most horrified look on her face. “Mama!” she screamed. Her face went white, then red, and then she said… “POOP!” before throwing up again. Wrong end, but right idea.
DD1 seemed okay now, though. I put a clean shirt on her and we went over to the table. She said she was hungry, so I made her a bowl of applesauce. DD2 sat in the highchair and ate a little bit of yogurt. As I was spooning it in, I looked over to see Number One lose it again. No problem, I thought. DD2 can just sit here a second while I take care of her sister. I looked at DD2, who caught my eye and blinked, and then she opened her little mouth up and chucked all over herself. At least it was white vanilla yogurt, and not strawberry or something that would look like blood, I thought. You think strange things at these moments. I stripped the kids, got the roll of paper towels, and we sat in the kitchen with both girls alternately opening wide and letting it fly. It was grotesquely choreographical, like a Rob Zombie children’s show. How much stuff could there possibly be in those little bellies, anyway?
DH came home then, and gamely took Number One. We washed them both off in the tub, which only lasted a few moments because that’s how long it took before one of them vomited into one of the stacking cups we use as tub toys. Thank goodness for indoor plumbing. We got everyone dressed and went back into the It’s Easier To Clean Up On The Tile Floor kitchen. Daddy went to get takeout for himself and Mama. So much for pasta night. We ate dinner with the girls on our laps, a wastebasket between us. Oh, god, we are such parents. Who else would have the gastrointestinal fortitude to choke down a burger and fries with all the commotion going on right at our very knees? You have to keep your strength up, I kept telling myself. DH doused every bite of his meal with Tabasco in an effort to ward off whatever viral invaders had conquered his daughters and wife. I think he even swilled from the bottle once or twice.
Later on, we camped out in the basement family room on a deflated air mattress lined with the disposable chux pads from DD2’s birth kit (which we never used, since she was born practically in the shower… but that’s another blog entry. I digress.) I will save you from the most graphic of details, but let’s just say that we were all night tossing those blue-backed little godsends of medical conveniece into a smelly trashbag. Both babies nursed and sipped water all night long, promptly spitting right back up, but eventually they slept. Gradually, the intervals between episodes increased. Sweet DH stayed with us, even though he had to work in the morning. By sunrise, DD1 was fine and back to eating regular food, albeit with a diminished appetite and a lot less spunk in her step than usual. She took a nap at 1pm without any prompting and fell asleep for the night at 8:30 pm in the playroom, completely of her own accord. (Was this some small bit of Grace departed upon us for enduring a night in at least the fourth or even third Circle of Hell?)
DD2 suffered a bit longer, unable to keep her tummy full until later Wednesday evening. With DD1 soundly asleep in the other room, Number Two and I lay in our family bed on a giant bath towel, under which were a puddle pad, the bed sheet, and several more waterproof layers. (It’s a nice family bed. I hope to keep it that way for when it’s just DH and me again, okay?) She also fell asleep without much fuss, and made it through the whole night with her tummy contents intact.
This morning, DD1 woke up after the first night in her own bed, and came looking for me. She nursed for a moment, and then snuggled up with me and Number Two. Lying in the middle of them, with both girls smiling and giggling at each other, I felt the wash of discordant emotions that are the Mother’s Curse. Relief that it’s over. Relief that they’re okay. Worry that they’re not okay and that it’s not over. Exhaustion. Grief. Anxiety. Self-pity. Pride. Exhilaration. Excitement about DD1’s step towards nighttime independence. Sadness about said step towards nighttime independence. Thoughts about whether to encourage same. Thoughts about making fancy little pillows to encourage same. Guilt about thoughts about making fancy little pillows to encourage same.
And a giddy sense of total and complete joy.