I have timidly typed comments on other blogs about the horrors of little ones upchucking in the middle of the night. You see, truth is, it’s not something Sean and I have had to deal with, that is until the night before last. Briar threw up on me once when she was less than a year old, but it was in broad daylight and was over as quickly as it began. Avery has never thrown up. So, when I’ve read about other parents being woken by ominous splashes and mournful wails, I’ve not wanted to jinx things.
And don’t worry, I am not going to regale you with the specifics of what came up. I just have to share a bit of the story because the reality is that not unlike riding a bike or, umm, other things that you do (hopefully when you are older) and aren’t maybe very good at when you start, there is a learning curve. As a little person with stuff suddenly coming up from a place where you thought things only went down, you don’t know to lean over the toilet. As a matter of fact I can think of nothing more confusing than suddenly having stuff spewing from your mouth in a violent fashion and then, after two years of solid, “Don’t play in the toilet” you are told to get down and stick your face in the damn thing.
And so it was that we found ourselves ushering Briar to the bathroom, too worried and stunned to explain calmly just why we were asking her to get so close to the toilet, why we couldn’t just hold her. We had no idea what to do. Briar’s first time throwing up in the middle of the night was also our first time. We’d never been parents to a sick person in the night, never had to strip a bed in the dark, never had to quell the urge to retch in order to prevent waking the little person sleeping in the bed behind us.
Three times we went to the bathroom and three times we returned to her room leaving the toilet bowl unused and ending moments later with Sean newly covered in acrid wetness. I’ll never forget standing at Briar’s bedside while Sean sat holding her, his bare chest covered in he sickness while her little body convulsed and she whimpered. We were frozen. “It’s ok, sweetie. Daddy’s got you. I think I caught it all on myself, Man.” I toweled his shoulder and cooed at Briar, “Honey, you are so brave.”
Running back and forth from bathroom to bedroom to retrieve soiled linens and replenish wet rags, I nearly gave in to my own retching several times over. I kept waiting for instinct to kick in, for the ability to overcome the smell and horror so that I could tend to Briar. The one-two combo of my pregnancy and my keen sense of smell (super-human pre-pregnancy and nearly impossible to function without a mask during pregnancy) left me doubled over, which as any woman in the last leg of pregnancy knows, is not a good position to be in. I hobbled back to the bedroom, small belches of discontent escaping my mouth, and my face contorted in a grimace intended to keep the smells from finding their way to my nose.
Avery at some point decided that she was not scared, but rather delighted that the whole fam-damily was up at 2:30. “I dancing. A’yook at me, Mama, A-ree dancing. Dancing on her bed!” Briar turned to Avery and began to go slightly hysterical, desperate to get back to normal, “OK, let’s go downstairs. Let’s go downstairs and be up.”
Sean looked at her, bewildered and exhausted, “Honey, it’s night time. We need to go back to sleep.”
Briar took one look at her bed and it was all over, “No. I don’t wanna hiccup anymore. I’m all done being sleepy and let’s go downstairs.”
Sean began to explain again and I said, “Honey, just take her downstairs,” behind me came a jubilant shriek, “Donw’a stairs!” from Avery. “No honey, it’s night time, we have to go back to sleep.”
“I don’t want it to be night time, mom,” Briar cried.
“S’morning time!” Screeched Avery.
It was, in a word, mayhem. Sean and I were too bleary eyed and spent from trying to manage Briar’s sickness through our fog. Sean and Briar went downstairs to slowly wind back down, while Avery and I retired to the big bed to ultimately not go back to sleep for a solid 90 minutes. I would not say that it was a total failure, but like bike riding, I think our first ride was a bit bumpy to say the least.
To all the parents out there already indoctrinated to the middle-of-the-night-puking-club I tip my hat to you. And to those of you not yet learned in the ways of the upset tummy, I wish you good luck and suggest that before you do anything banish all screened drain covers from your bathroom sink lest the same fate befall you, that did me, which make no mistake, almost did me in.