I had just finished the baby’s 3 a.m. feeding and was lying awake in bed staring up at the ceiling, unable to fall back asleep. I was worrying about the weird croupy cough that Jack had suddenly developed. There I was, lying in the dark listening for the cough when I heard it: the distinct sound of puking. Coming from Julia and Charlie’s room.
I threw back the blankets and ran into their room to find Julia sitting straight up at the top of the bunk bed ladder. Vomit was dripping down the rungs of the ladder, forming paper-mâché-like globs on each step, then spilling down onto Charlie’s bed and the white carpet below. Charlie slept on as Julia gave another heave, spewing out the contents of her stomach: wet clumps of spinach and carrots from dinner, mixed with a chocolate pudding dessert.
I stood paralyzed for a few seconds as I took in the scene, then instinctively reached up over my head and scooped her up off of the ladder, carrying my 60-pound baby to the bathroom.
“Mommy, I want it to stop!” she sputtered, as another blob of the spinach/carrot/pudding goop flew out of her mouth. “It hurts,” she moaned.
“I know, baby. Just get it all out. It will be over soon,” I said, holding back her hair and feeling her forehead.
Afterwards, I cleaned Julia up, cleaned up the bunk bed, pulled the blankets off of Charlie’s bed and covered him with a clean, dry blanket. I gave Julia a few sips of water and got her back into bed with a bowl to puke in.
“Mommy, do I look pale?” she asked.
“You do, Julia.”
“Andrew looked pale when he got sick at school today, too.”
“Did he throw up, Juje?”
“Mmm hmmm. He had to go home.” Julia then ticked off the names of five or six other kids in her class who’ve been puking.
“Mommy, am I going to school in the morning?”
“No, Juje,” I sighed. “Try to get some sleep now.”
I changed my own spattered shirt and did a load of vomit-soaked laundry. Then, I got back in bed and resumed my post, staring up at the ceiling, worrying: How was this vomit bug was going to play out? Were we all going to get it? Is this why Jack just started this weird croupy cough in the night? Was he going to start puking next? How were we going to handle yet another bout of sickness?
The clock blinked 5:30 a.m. The baby’s cough turned into a raspy cry. I got up to nurse him again, then settled him back down to sleep and tiptoed back to our room. I laid back down in bed just as the morning light was beginning to filter in through the windows. I closed my eyes and finally, finally felt myself drifting off to sleep... just as Charlie came bounding through the door, wide awake, ready to start our day.
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