So, the hubby’s away for the weekend, and I plan lots of fun activities to pass the time for me and the boy. We go to a local museum, while away the hours gazing at dead critters’ bones and sparkly gems. Then we play in the park. We head to the grocery store, and as we begin to shop, I call for a pizza; that will be our dinner, the final treat to a lovely day of treats.
We pick up the pizza, take it home, gorge ourselves. The kid eats a bit more than normal, but not an alarming amount—he tells me as he manages half of a third piece that he was really hungry. We digest, and play a bit more, and then I give him a nice warm bath and dress him in fuzzy, clean PJs. He climbs into bed, there are stories and songs, and he drifts off to sleep.
The only damper up ‘til that time? As we were touring the dinosaur displays, the cat apparently puked on an afghan downstairs. But I saw it before we sat on it, and I threw the drippy mess into the washer.
Fast forward a couple of hours—I have just showered and I’m getting ready for bed myself, when I hear coughing coming from my son’s room. It goes on, and it has an ominous sound; this is not the dry, I-sleep-with-a-fan-on cough. I hurry in, leaving his lights off in hopes that there’s no real issue. And I pat him in the semi-darkness. But wait. He’s sticky. The sheets are wet. The comforter is wet. What is that horrendous sweet stench? Omigosh.
I turn on the dim light. There is yuck on him, on his pillow, on his covers, on the sheets… I quickly strip him down and pull off the bedclothes, rolling all the nastiness into the middle. I won’t go into detail because any parent already knows, and anyone else doesn’t want to. Suffice it to say that the entire time I’m doing this, I’m thinking how the smell will also make me hurl if I don’t get away from it soon, and also thinking how pathetic is a small, tired, ill child sporting regurgitation on his chin. I murmur quietly to my half-conscious son, tell him we’ll get this cleaned up, wipe him off and dress him in clean clothes, flip the waterproof mattress pad, put on a new fitted sheet, fish out clean blankets, and try to get my poor little guy to rinse his mouth. He refuses (God only knows why) and I choose to let it go. If he doesn’t care, I don’t care.
It’s done. He climbs back into bed and immediately goes back to sleep. I leave his room and deposit the horror into the washer (I have to remove the now-clean afghan first), then wash my hands like an OCD junkie, change into sleeping clothes, brush my teeth, the works. Climbing into my just-washed sheets should be a treat, but I feel contaminated now, yet too tired to shower a second time. I lie there, listening intently for more coughing. Every breath, every twitch yanks me back to a hyper-awake state. At last, I drift into uneasy sleep…
…only to be awakened again, by that awful cough. I leap from bed, instantly alert, rush to the kid’s room…and find an exact duplicate of the previous scene. This time he’s got it in his hair, too, at the bottom on the side. You can imagine how well he takes to getting that area wiped down with a wet washcloth. Again, we change everything, but this time he’s shaking from the physical strain and from his sleepy little-kid outrage. Again, I put him back into bed, on the last clean single sheet in the house, praying that there’s nothing left for him to projectile vomit. Thankfully, he goes back to sleep again, poor little guy. And I once more drag a roll of disgustingness to the washer, transferring to the dryer the now-clean sheet and cover from our last round.
I wash my hands again, and go back to sleep, exhausted.
But it’s not over yet, folks. The cat wakes me with that too-familiar heaving sound that he reserves for special moments like this: 3 am. I am on my feet in a second, rushing to the living room, where I manage to locate the sound in the darkness and punt the offending creature off the carpet and onto hardwood, where hairballs and the slime they wear are much less damaging. He finishes his work, and I see him retreating just as I flip the light on. I clean this up, the last of four bilious episodes within a 24-hour period. I go back to sleep. And wake to a small voice in the early morn: “I’m done sleeping, Mama.”
Some days are just like this, I suppose. You try to thank God for washing machines and multiple sets of bed linens. You thank Him that your child is healthy most of the time, that he’s not taking chemo that makes him sick like this every day. You thank Him that you have a husband who just happens to be out of town this weekend, but is usually not.
And you pray for NO MORE PUKE.