I’m guessing you’re exhausted.
After these holidays, most of us are reaching for that extra cuppa, or maybe just breathing a little deeper, trying to revive after all the excitement and fun of the holidays. If you’re like me, you’ve finished load 2,345,949 of laundry because everything in your home has been thrown up on. Several times. By several different people.
So that’s how my family spent the break. Shepz began the throwing up festivities on the day after Christmas. I knew that obviously Smitty would follow suit, because they practically lick each others faces for twelve hours out of the day. Sure enough, at midnight the unmistakable sound of our child losing his everything woke Anson and me up.
A few things about toddlers throwing up:
First off, it’s one of the rare things they do that no matter what, it’s not cute. It’s sad. Shep was absolutely horrified the first time he threw up. This is the twins’ first experience in that genre of being ill. So he was just totally surprised at the whole of it. Smith watched Shep a few times and would sort of laugh, then mimic in a way that felt more mocking than sympathetic, then got bored with it. Until it was his turn. At that point, he shared the horror that Shep had felt, probably to a greater extent. Turns out that Smitty is a heaver. From the moment he began until the moment I could get him back in bed, there was about three hours of sad sad sad heaving in about ten minute cycles. Poor kid. I ended up sitting with him on the couch, holding his head to my chest with one hand, with my other hand on a plastic bowl, singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on a loop because if I tried to stop he made the sign language symbol for “more” frantically. This lasted, as I mentioned, for around three hours. At one point I reminded myself that what was happening was actually one of the more delicious times a mother can have with her child. Not the vomiting part, but having her baby (ok, toddler) snuggled up on her like a little ball, with his hands wandering up and down her arm. The weight of a sleeping baby is exactly Heaven on a mother’s body. It feels warm and just perfectly heavy enough. I decided I could sit here with Smitty for hours and be happy. Even if it was occasionally broken up with the violent heaving.
I did begin to despair because there was nothing I could do to help him. I wanted to keep him upright, hoping that would be a small assist. I wanted him to be comfortable so we cuddled under the weight of our coziest blanket. I wanted him to know I wasn’t leaving so I kept singing, even after his breath slowed down to a rhythm that suggested he was asleep. But that’s all I could do. Smitty couldn’t keep down even a drop of water so when he begged for water I had to distract him. Not that easy at 2:30 in the morning.
When I finally got him to bed, I collapsed in my bed and then realized that I was next. I was going down. There was no doubt that it was my turn and I spent the next three hours going from my bed to the bathroom with my own horrible episode of this illness. When the sun came up and Anson woke up I told him about the night, that I was sick as well, and then Roan tore out of his room, racing to the bathroom…and…well you can probably guess the rest.
He was in rough shape.
For those of you keeping track, that is four out of five Nelson Calls taken out by a stomach bug in less than twenty-four hours. Ridiculous. Anson was the last man standing and had the weight of many sick and needy people on his shoulders for that day. I disappeared downstairs for a good chunk of the day, just hoping that all was well. A few times I would resurface and do what I could, but honestly, I just wasn’t able to do much. Roan and I cuddled together in his bed for a while and I slept while he texted with his cousins in Utah. When I finally was able to get my feet under me I bathed the twins and put them down to bed. When I came back upstairs to recap the day with Anson, I knew there was trouble. Roan was asleep on the couch and Anson was just staring at the ceiling, clutching his stomach and looked the color of grey that isn’t pretty.
I grabbed Roan, locked the front door, shut the house down and wished Anson good luck with the next twelve hours. We all knew what was coming. That is the earliest the house has ever closed down for the day. Roan and I went to bed at 8:00. Anson was up all night, throwing up all night.
The miracle we all needed happened – everyone slept in. By our house standards that means anything past 7:00 AM. Nobody woke up before 8:00. I felt well enough to take on the sick kiddo-s, and told Anson to stay in bed. Other than a night-time relapse by Smitty, we were all on the mend by nightfall that evening.
As Anson and I finished tucking all the boys into their beds and headed upstairs a weird almost euphoric feeling hit me. We talked about the past 48 hours like a war, one we had come back from as victors. It was overwhelmingly strong, this feeling that we had gotten through something together. I realized I had been on constant alert, trying to figure out who needed me the most, without a break for the last two days. And that we were all ok, almost back to normal, was such a giant relief, it felt like a gift.
Having a sick child, or having sick children, is one of the most stressful things a person can go through. This episode was trivial, I know. No one was ever really in danger, we all knew it would pass. But the vulnerability of being so invested, so tightly wound up with a person’s well-being is brought to light when that person is suffering. But it also shines a light on how a partner eases the burden. It made me so grateful that I am with a person who is equally invested, who is ready to dig in as deep as possible to keep them safe and well.
Being sick as a family, going down one-by-one like dominoes? Not the family vacation I would have planned. But Roan remembering his mama sleeping next to him while we got well, Smitty and Shep possibly being able to recall the comfort they found being close to their Dad and Mom when they needed us, and me always remembering how my husband shines at the times I need him to? These are the bricks of our family, our home.