Warning: This post contains somewhat vivid descriptions of vomit and is probably not suitable for reading while eating or preparing to eat or having just eaten. You're welcome.
I have given birth twice (sans epidural). I have grieved and celebrated babies. I have breastfed for fifteen months. I have wiped up snot, wiped up poop, changed countless diapers, laundered countless diapers, pureed baby food, refilled sippy cups with milk, held chubby hands in mine, and kissed soft, perfect cheeks.
But I totally felt like a mom on Friday night when--for the first time ever--we dealt with a barfing child.
Zuzu has (knock on wood) never been a vomiter. Even as a baby she never spit up. Actually, she spit up twice. Once on my friend Vicky (Vicky's daughter Kenley got me back by peeing on me when I visited her) and once when she had a fever. She has never thrown up since she started eating real food.
Until Friday night. She'd been kind of cranky from the time I picked her up at daycare. I'd been on campus all day, prepping for my January-term class, and David was back at work. He was late getting home because he'd stopped at the store to get groceries so I whipped up a quick and easy dinner with what we had on hand--a pancake and scrambled eggs and some fruit.
Usually this is a favorite meal, but Zuzu wouldn't eat any of it. She ate three blackberries and insisted she was "All Done." I was annoyed that she was feeding Cooper the entire dinner I'd made for her, annoyed that she wasn't eating anything I'd prepared, annoyed that David wasn't home yet, and hungry myself. I decided to get her out of the high chair and let David try to feed her when he got home.
He got home around 6:30, which is getting close to bedtime (usually between 7:00 and 7:30pm) and David tried to entice her with a potato pancake and Greek yogurt. She cried when he put her in the high chair and tried to give her a bite, so he let her get down.
As annoying as this is, we really try not to make dinner an issue. We give her things we want her to eat, she eats them or doesn't. We'll encourage bites (and yes, I will hide broccoli behind a mac & cheese noodle) but we don't insist that she try everything or eat everything. Generally speaking, she's a pretty good eater. It's true that she is not a huge fan of green vegetables and if left to her own devices, she'd make an entire meal out of a loaf of French bread (but honestly, so would I). So mostly we try to be chill about it.
Generally, she eats more at breakfast and lunch than she does at dinner, but it's very unusual for her not to eat any dinner at all. David and I had made burritos for dinner and I was just sitting down to eat mine in the kitchen and commenting to David that I don't think she'd ever chosen not to eat anything for dinner before. Zuzu walked into the kitchen, stopped in front of the refrigerator, turned to face me, and blew chunks everywhere.
She barfed all over the floor, all down her front, on her feet, all over the little dress she was wearing. It just kept coming and coming. David knelt down by her and patted her little back as she heaved out more and more vomit. I sat frozen on the kitchen chair, gaping at them. I was sort of in shock, and then almost started crying because I was so freaked out. But I didn't want to cry because I didn't want to freak her out. She wasn't crying, although her eyes were watering when she finally quit puking.
And then we just did what parents do when the kid barfs. David carried her upstairs, I started a bath, we stripped her down and got her in the tub. I put her in clean pjs while David (bless his heart) soaked up the barf and then steam-mopped the kitchen floor.
(Can I just say that the grossest part is that a lot of the barf was curds of mozzarella cheese? I mean seriously. I actually had to pull a few chunks of cheese out of the washing machine after doing the laundry. Gag gag gag.)
She seemed to feel better after that, and I gave her a little bit of water, which she gulped down. I also gave her a saltine cracker but she wasn't interested in eating it. She didn't have a fever, so I snuggled her in the rocking chair and we did our night-night reading and singing routine. By this time it was going on 8pm (well past bedtime) so I tucked her in to her crib and she went to sleep without protesting. We hoped it was just a freak thing and talked about how lucky we were that we'd gone 18 months without having a barfing incident.
An hour later, her pukey clothes and towels were in the laundry and we were watching The Good Wife when we heard weird sounds through the monitor and I just knew. She wasn't crying or making any other noises, but I hurried up to her room and found her sitting up in her crib, bewildered, vomit everywhere. I couldn't believe she still had that much left in her tummy after all the puking she'd done in the kitchen. Gross.
So then it was clean up again--wipe down the baby, strip the sheets, pull off the mattress protector, change the sheets (and changing crib sheets is the WORST!), get Zuzu in clean pajamas, and get her back in bed. I took her temperature again but it was fine. Once again, we snuggled and rocked and then I put her in the crib and she went back to sleep without a peep. Poor little punkin.
We managed to get in another episode of The Good Wife, and David even ate his burrito (gag) and we didn't hear anything else out of her all night. But the next morning when she woke up, we discovered that she had, in fact, thrown up again at some point during the night and just slept in it. GROSS ME OUT. Also, POOR BABY.
So it was time for another bath, another change of sheets, another load of laundry, and we both spent the day in pajamas (because it was a sick day, obvs). She seemed to be feeling much better and asked for milk but after the curdled milk/cheese vomit, we couldn't stomach the idea of giving her more dairy, so we stuck with water and diluted juice. She ate toast and oatmeal for breakfast, and again for lunch, plus a bit of applesauce. Dinner was plain noodles and we had no more barfing. Hallelujah!
I guess it was just a freak little stomach bug, and I'm glad it didn't slow her down for long, but it sure was gross.
And, weirdly, it totally made me feel like a mom to have to clean up my barfy kid and to realize that I could make her feel better just by holding her. Which I did. Even when her hair smelled like vomit. Oh, Zuzu. There really is nothing I wouldn't do for that girl. But I hope we can keep the barfing to a minimum. Once every 18 months is more than enough.