I now know what it’s like living in fear. Every strange sound makes me weary. Every pained/sad/scared look freaks me out a little. Every cough makes me skiddish. I love getting hugs from Hannah, but her motives frighten me. I turned the baby monitor’s sensitivity up as high as it will go (it’s usually on the lowest setting). I can hear her every yawn, fart, sneeze and accidental hit on the cot rail. I can hear her if she breathes too loud. But that’s not why I turned it up. I need to hear if she vomits. Ick. Vomit…. Sigh. Hannah has gastro. At least that’s what the after hours doctor said the night before last when I called and he came to our house at 9:30pm. Bulk billed by the way (I didn’t have to pay anything, medicare pays it all. How I love Australia’s health care system).
I don’t deal well with vomit. I never have. I’m not a vomiter. Before my last pregnancy, I hadn’t vomited in 1o years. That’s right people, 10 years! 10 beautiful, vomit free years. I don’t even like the word vomit. Or throw up, or chuck, or any word that even remotely relates to that horrid stomach action. Yes, I have emetophobia (what, I googled it, it’s a real thing, and by golly, I’m not the only one who has it!). Fear of vomiting. Not just me vomiting, but also anyone even remotely near me. The very thought of it freaks me out.
The other week, Aaron, or The Jess (can’t remember which, they both enjoy asking random would-never-happen-hypothetical questions) asked me which would I rather, if I had to be in the way of poo or vomit. Most people wouldn’t hesitate (so I’ve been told), they’d say vomit. They’d much rather have vomit on themselves than poo. I thought about it a second. ”Poo.” I said. They looked at me like I was a complete nutbag. ”Well, poo can be just a little nugget that falls on your shoe and then rolls off. vomit is never like that. Vomit gets all over you. Seriously, it depends on the particular poo or vomit.” Emetophobic….
But now I’m a mum. I have a toddler. Toddlers get sick. Toddlers do, on occasion, vomit. Not like when they are babies and spit up milk, that’s not really vomit-y. That doesn’t smell like vomit, doesn’t look like vomit, doesn’t really bother me (of course Hannah hardly ever spit up, so I guess I’m not really a good judge on the matter). No, no, toddlers vomit just like adults. I don’t know how they fit it all in those little tummies of theirs, but they vomit a lot. And Hannah has this tendency to want her mommy right before she vomits. She wants my comfort, she wants me to make her better. I want to run the other way, screaming. Now that I know she has gastro, I’m extremely weary of her. What if she vomits on me? I don’t even want to think about that.
It all started on Tuesday night. She was happy. Happily playing in the foyer of a dance studio where we were going to watch The Jess do her end of term performance. And then it happened. ”Mommy,” she said to me all sad-like, jumping into my arms. A second later, the eruption started. Lucky for me, I have fast reflexes. Without any thought, I immediately turned her around, away from me. The vomit went all over the leather lounge. Everyone stared at us, not knowing what to do or say. The smell was overwhelming. I put her down and ran over to the receptionist’s desk.
“I need some clean up over here!” I frantically yelled like a mad woman as she was on her phone call. I didn’t mean for her to clean it up, I just wanted something to clean it up with. I’m sure it didn’t come across that way though. I looked around the room like a chicken with my head cut off, desperately trying to find something to clean it up with. Meanwhile, YaYa picked up Hannah and she started vomiting more. There was vomit everywhere. I finally noticed the bathroom sign and ran in to get some paper towels.
YaYa and I cleaned it up while everyone looked on, thoroughly disgusted. Clearly none of these people had kids. YaYa cleaned up most of it for me (phew) while I watched Hannah, made sure she didn’t kneel down, put her pointer finger on the floor and swirl around all the vomit. For some reason, toddlers like to do that. Strange little people….
The next morning she threw up again. This time though, I knew she was sick. I recognised the signs. I held her over the sink and it all went straight in. Easy clean up, no mess. Still disgusting though.
She was hungry that night, and she perked up a lot. She wanted blueberries. She begged for some. Aaron gave them to her.
The next morning, Aaron went in her room when she woke up and she handed him a now dry, regurgitated blueberry. I’m so glad I wasn’t the one to get her up. She’d vomited in the middle of the night, and then went back to sleep without complaint. Or maybe she did it in her sleep, I’m not sure. Either way, it was disgusting. There was dried blueberry vomit all through her hair, her blankets, her sleepy suit, her bunny and her bear. I put her straight in the bath, pulling out blueberries as I washed her hair. Ick. By the time I was finished, Grandma had already fixed her bed up (thank God for Grandma).
She didn’t vomit all day or night that day. She was very happy, playing, energetic. I only gave her bland foods, diluted apple juice with electrolytes (she won’t drink the electrolyte stuff by itself), no milk.
The next day she was also happy. She desperately wanted some milk. She seemed better, so I gave her a little. For dinner, she had some kids ravioli, and then a little bit of milk. She played happily.
But then she looked at me strangely. And she erupted. It was bad. I’m pretty sure every single thing she ate and drank that day came up at that moment. The rug in her room was vile. The smell was horrid. Puke was everywhere. “Grandma! She vomited!” I grabbed a towel and tried to clean it up. The smell was overwhelming. I turned my head. I could feel the contents of my stomach start to creep up. I swallowed before they got too far up. Grandma must have seen my torment and quickly came to my rescue. I bolted out of that room with Hannah and stripped her clothes off, rinsed them and put them straight in the washing machine. She was happy as Larry. She wanted to help with the washing and played the whole time in the vomit-removal clean-up bath.
It just wasn’t like her. Last time she was sick (which was all the way back in September), she wasn’t happy, or playing. She was miserable. She sadly laid her head on my shoulder in misery until she got better. She slept half the day. No, something wasn’t right.
I called the after hours doctor who came a couple hours later (they were pretty busy) and checked her over. No fever, clear ears, clear chest, no sign of heart failure (phew, I’m always scared of that when she’s sick, since she has a hole in her heart). He listened to her tummy. ”Lots of noise going on in there!” He told me. ”You can probably hear it just by putting your ear next to her stomach. Yep, it’s gastro.”
“How long does it last?” I asked him, “I mean, she first vomited on Tuesday.” (that was Saturday by the way).
“It can last for 2 weeks.” He told me. Sigh. He told me to keep her hydrated, give her lots of electrolytes, bland food, and no milk.
So now, every time she so much as looks at me funny, I silently freak out a little. But I hug her anyway, because that is what I do. I am her mom, and even though vomiting is petrifying to me, I love her, and it’s my duty to be there for her no matter how much it scares me.
UPDATE: 1 week after the first vomit – Hannah ate a lot today (all bland, rice bubbles (Rice Krispies), toast, rusks, mashed potato and tofu, grated apple, banana, and of course lots of electrolyte drink). It’s almost bed time, and so far, no vomit today, thank goodness.
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