In early October, I was messaging a friend laughing about how many times I have vomited this year. Whereas I used to go for years without being sick (despite being a doctor and seeing sick people all the time), having 2 kids under 2 who are constantly bringing bugs home has changed all that. Nowadays, I consider myself to be a seasoned vommer. I realised after talking about it that I have been sick in every single month this year apart from January. Jokingly, I said that the October vomit had not come yet, but it was only the 4th and so there was plenty of time for that before the end of the month.
At the start of the month, I am singing in a church service one Tuesday evening. My mother-in-law has agreed to watch the children until my husband gets in from work. Edward is teething, has a cold, and has developed a persistent cough, which is causing him to vomit every now and again and I have had him at home since lunchtime when he was sent home from nursery. I feel a bit guilty leaving when Edward is under the weather, but I have agreed to sing and besides, this is one of the only things I get to do for myself these days. Plus Edward is ready for bed and probably just needs a bit of TLC before he’s asleep for the night. I have been busy at the pre-service rehearsal and haven’t heard anything from my mother-in-law or my husband and so I assume everything is fine and that the kids have gone to bed without any problems arising.
I am sat in church whilst the service is in progress when I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket (I don’t like to have it with me when in church but I do incase I get a phone call about one of the children). There is a text message from my husband. He states that he has arrived home much later than anticipated due to a flat tyre and that both of the kids have been vomiting everywhere. He tells me the living room and kitchen are in total disarray. I reply asking if it’s definitely both of them, as I know Edward has been vomiting occasionally with a cough, but Henry seemed right as rain when I left the house about an hour ago. My husband confirms that, yes, it is indeed both of them. I apologise and say that I can’t really leave early to help, but that I will be home as soon as possible.
When I arrive home, my husband is frantically mopping the kitchen floor. He explains that both kids have vomited all over the downstairs floorspace and he thinks he has blocked the garage sink in the process of trying to clear it all up. I go upstairs, and call my mother-in-law, apologising profusely for the utter chaos which ensued shortly after I left. She begins to tell me the saga of what has actually happened whilst I have been away.
It began when Edward was a bit sick over her and she decided that “enough was enough” and she was going to bath both of the kids. During this bath, Edward proceeded to have a loose bowel movement in the water leaving both kids bathing in diarrhoea. Nanny was forced to drain the bath and hose both kids down with the shower in order to clean all the crap off them following this disaster. She then got the kids ready for bed and took them downstairs to wait for my husband to get home. At this point, she discovered that my husband was delayed due to a flat tyre. Just as she hung up the phone, Henry came up to her and was sick all over her and the lounge floor, with no warning whatsoever.
When my husband walked in there was sick all over the living room. He took the kids from his mum and advised her to go home for a shower, saying something along the lines of “thank you for your help, but I think you’ve seen enough tonight. Go home and get yourself a shower.” My husband cleared up the sick from the lounge and put the kids to bed, at which point Henry was sick all over the bed. My husband changed Henry and the bed and came downstairs to put everything in the washing machine and attempt to unblock the sink. This is the point at which I arrived home. I said I would deal with the blocked sink and told him to go and get changed and check on the kids.
As I was picking the lumps of vomit out of the sink in a bid to unblock it, I suddenly heard desperate and shocked cries of “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD!” coming from the nursery. When I went to investigate, I discovered that this was because Edward had been sick all over his bed. We then changed the sheets and put the soiled ones in the washing machine. Several sheet changes and several vomits later, we successfully put both kids to bed.
After this ordeal, my husband was sweating buckets and complaining that he had had a really hard night and had a flat tyre to top it all off. Smugly I grinned and said “well, now you know what my average day looking after the kids is like. Not so easy is it?!” I’m telling you if looks could kill, the look he gave me after that would have done the trick! Nevertheless I still have a good old laugh to myself that FOR ONCE this utter disaster has not happened on my watch!
A few days later, I really got my comeuppance for laughing at my husband’s misfortunes. I was upstairs sorting something out when I heard my mother-in-law yelling “OMG Edward has exploded!” from downstairs. I knew exactly what she meant, because Edward has an awful habit of doing massive poo explosions approximately twice a day- the poo goes everywhere- up his back, etc. I told her to bring him upstairs and I would deal with it. She was correct, the poo was all up his back, coming through his clothes. I managed to clear it up and decided to put him in the bath because the situation was beyond repair with baby wipes. I put him in the bath and when I went to clear up the clothes afterwards, I accidentally put my hand straight into this green diarrhoea that had gone all up his back. So that will teach me for laughing at my husband when he’s had a really bad night with the kids.
I have some important exams coming up soon and so I have been trying to do some work for them in the day when the boys are at nursery before I return to work full time. I frequent a cafe near their nursery, which means I can work there and then I am on hand to collect them. When I’ve finally got them both back to nursery following yet another week of illness, I am working in the cafe. I order myself a coffee and a snack. When this arrives I put my books aside so as to make room for it. I thank the waiter very much for everything and wonder why he’s giving me a very strange look. He walks off and I feel the colour rise in my cheeks as I see the textbook I have set down on the table is wide open on a page displaying the male genital anatomy in detail (I am a doctor and so this was an anatomy textbook, not some weird magazine, in case you were wondering. For the record I have to know quite a bit of anatomy for my exams). I sigh and carry on enjoying my coffee break before going to pick up the boys later.
By the weekend I’m well and truly exhausted after a chaotic week of illness (miraculously I don’t seem to have caught this particular vomiting bug- the October vomit will have to wait it seems), studying etc. On the Saturday night my husband is due to go out whilst I look after the kids. Just before he goes, I go upstairs and take Henry to the toilet. I figure I may as well start to run the bath since it’s after 6pm. I turn the taps on, and suddenly my husband comes in to the bathroom and asks me what I’m doing and he looks at me, shocked, and exclaims “WE NEED TO FEED THE KIDS FIRST!” Yes, it’s true, I forgot to give my kids dinner!
After I have thrown together some sort of vaguely acceptable evening meal, I think about running the bath again. Before I have a chance to do this, Edward has another of his infamous poo explosions and I suddenly hear an unnerving retching sound coming from the staircase. My fears regarding said retching sound are confirmed when I discover that the cat has chundered all over the stairs. Of course, no evening would be complete without an abundance of bodily fluids. I decide to put the kids to bed before sorting the stairs out. I politely ask the powers that be to please give me no further bodily fluids to deal with on this particular night, as I feel I’ve had my fair share for now.
Alas, my prayers for no more bodily fluids are not answered and unfortunately Edward has a further explosive sh*t in the bath. Once I’ve hosed the kids down and put them to bed, I tackle this with my power shower and proceed to clear up the cat vomit from the stairs after that- I enlist the help of my trusty Vanish carpet cleaner and the hoover.
Later in the month, we are preparing for both of the boys to be christened. I have Henry at home with a fever at the start of the christening week and he spends the whole day telling me he needs the toilet (he often doesn’t but I’m at the stage where I have to take his word for it every time because you can guarantee the one time I don’t believe him he will be being serious). It’s an exhausting day and I get virtually nothing done (I don’t even manage to shower until some late afternoon hour but I accept the fact that I need to make realistic goals for myself and not expect anything momentous to be accomplished). Unfortunately later in the week I am unwell again (thanks Henry!) with a fever and flu-like symptoms. I am better by the weekend, but not 100% recovered. On the Friday night my husband and I attend his cricket presentation evening where he receives the club award for batting. Just as we are leaving I joyfully announce to him that I have managed to squeeze myself into my pre-pregnancy jeans (which have not got above my thighs since I was a few months pregnant with Henry). My bubble is however burst when my husband reminds me that we have not yet eaten and so I may want to remove the jeans and attempt to put them on after we have filled our bellies!
My parents arrive on the Saturday ready for the christening on the Sunday. We run through the programme with the vicar the day before and it all seems great (I just have a secret fear that Henry is going to start declaring that he needs a sh*t during the service- he of course has no filter as no 2 year old does and so if he needed a sh*t, the entire congregation would be informed of this fact). My dad and I later attempt to ice the 6 layer rainbow cake I have made for the occasion, but sadly the entire cake collapses in the process. We admit that it was simply not meant to be (luckily we have a backup) and so we decide to get drunk instead.
The christening goes well and at the end, the boys are presented with gifts from the church including some books and a candle each. Luckily I have the foresight to extinguish Henry’s candle before he snatches it from my grasp and throws it over the altar and the entire church goes up in flames (he throws everything thanks to lessons from his cricket-obsessed father).
After the service, we head to the cricket club where we are hosting a reception with food and drinks. I have not been feeling right all morning and suddenly start feeling terrible as I drive to the church. I tell my husband I almost feel as though I’m going to fall over (but I don’t feel faint) and I feel as though the room is spinning. Putting his GP hat on, he diagnoses me with post-viral vertigo (after the febrile illness I’ve had that week) and goes to the chemist to get me some motion sickness tablets. Another of my doctor friends tells me that I would probably feel better if I was sick (I don’t fancy that I thought to myself, I’m doing remarkably well having got to the 20th of October without vomiting this month!) Luckily the tablets work and I’m able to join in with some of the celebrations before the party is over (this is after spending a great deal of the afternoon on a bench outside feeling as though I am on a fairground ride).
The following morning, I wake up in the early hours feeling dizzy and sick again (it seems the tablets have worn off) and of course, I end up being violently sick shortly afterwards. (There was the October vomit, it didn’t show up until the 21st, but it happened all the same). As I lie on the bathroom floor feeling sorry for myself, my mother smugly tells me that she has apparently escaped a hangover despite having succumbed to peer pressure from several twenty-something guests who dared her to shot several measures of black sambuca. I eventually manage to get back into bed to sleep yet another vomiting session off and as I fall asleep I find myself reminiscing about the time that I was found unconscious in the cricket club cellar and subsequently vomited on a tree in the grounds after shotting the same sambuca that my mother was given yesterday (and handled like a pro) just last month. I later learn that several of my friends enjoyed an Indian takeaway after the party and I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t get involved with that in light of my vomiting session during the night as that would have been so so so so grim.
The boys have been sleeping badly recently, which in turn means that I am very sleep-deprived. This has been partly to do with them having their fair share of bugs given the season changes (a lot of coughing and hence disturbed sleep). Sometimes I find myself reaching the end of my tether when I am very low on sleep. It is hard not to lose my temper sometimes. Recently, after a particularly bad night I found myself crying with frustration due to tiredness and then banging my head extremely hard on one of the shelves in the nursery (which resulted in me seeing stars and developing a large lump on my head much like a cartoon character does after a blow to the head). I was feeling very hard done by until Henry looked up at me and said “sorry mama, don’t cry.” It’s times like those that I realise that I am so lucky to have the boys and that the chaos and sleep-deprivation is worth it ( just do not ask me to reaffirm this belief when I am up in the early hours tonight……)
It also helps sometimes to realise that however chaotic and disastrous things may seem, I am not the only one who goes through this on a daily basis. I receive a text message from my friend from university who has a son who is only about a week older than Edward asking if anyone else is having “one of those days?” She then proceeds to tell me that she had booked a haircut for the first time in 6 months (the hairdresser isn’t the easiest place to get to when you have a young child as I’m sure most of you will know) but her sister (who was supposed to be babysitting) had got sick and so her childcare plans had fallen through. She managed to arrange for her sister-in-law to step in, but she then got stuck in traffic on the way to the appointment, her baby was sick on her head (!), she lost her purse, and then turned up half an hour late to the appointment. Miraculously they were able to fit her in and her husband was en route with a credit card to foot the bill. Jokingly she said she’d asked for “a Britney” style cut (I think she was referring to the time when Britney shaved her head) as that was the most practical given the vomit in her hair when she showed up. She said the hairdresser was very understanding as she had three kids herself- “she knows!” she said.
“Oh yes”, I said sympathetically, “when you know, you know!”