Saturday, December 7, 2013

A toddler and her stomach bug

Banjo recovers quickly from losing her magic
on her first day.
As I previously mentioned, L. got her Elf on the Shelf and promptly began hugging, kissing and dancing with her. While the fiance and I were away, we sent Banjo to the North Pole to get her magic back. Santa sent us a photo of her progress and she came back, fully recovered. Now, that was an easy-peasy thing to remedy.

When it comes to your own children, however, not only do you learn there is nothing you won't do for your child, but you also take on this inner strength you might not regularly know you have. It's not the inner strength that shows itself when they're having a meltdown in the grocery store. It's not the inner strength that could come in handy when prompted to "all fall down" at the end of "Ring Around the Rosey" for the 40th time and you're not sure you will have the energy to stand up again. It's the inner strength that comes when you've reached what you perceive to be your limit and just keep going. Similar to the phrase mouthed by mothers to children, "Because I said so," when faced with a challenge, mothers subsequently tell ourselves, "Because I have to."

I never thought there would be an emotion that could be a cross between grossed out and your heart breaking until I saw my little girl throw up for the first time. But there is. I shall call it bl'eâ, pronounced as a portmanteau of "Blegh" and "Aww," but French sounding. Example, "Watching my little girl get her first stomach bug was not fun for any of us. I've never experienced such bl'eâ before in my life."

It happened on the night we were having some friends and family over to celebrate the fiance's birthday. All day, L. had been her usual self. But, as company started to arrive, she started to become quiet and shy. She hugged the fiance's family, but then would run and hug me and ask for a diaper change, even though I knew she didn't need one. 

Red flag No. 1: She wanted and asked for multiple diaper changes. She hates having to put aside her agenda for a diaper change. And here she was asking for one. 

As I was getting last minute prepping done, she wanted little to do with people who were trying to play with her and kept pulling me into the bedroom and climbing on my back for a piggy back ride. I would bring her back into the kitchen and set her down and try to have her interact with people, but she wasn't having it.

Red flag No. 2: Being anti-social. She normally loves guests, but she wanted nothing to do with the crowd that was slowly forming in our living room.

When I finally got a chance to sit among the guests, she came right over and sat in my lap and put her head on my chest. I felt her forehead and it was a little warm, but the house was starting to heat up so I didn't think much of it. She had a nap earlier, but she was acting like she was starting to wind down for the night. I decided we would wait until the pizza got there, give her a few slices, then put her in the bath and get her to bed. She had also started coughing a bit and I didn't like the sounds of them. I gave her a throat soothing lollipop, but she wasn't really eating it.

Red flag No. 3: Aversion to food. This girl can eat, let me tell you. She's not a sprinting eater, but she's a marathoner. She likes to graze all day. I've started leaving edamame or popcorn out so she can graze to her heart's content without really ruining her appetite. But here she was, barely touching a lollipop of all things. One of her favorite things!

Once I had to get up again to get something out of the oven, our guests watched her walk to her room and lay down on her bed. The fiance's father had the direct view of her and said, "She's just laying there, staring at the ceiling."

Red flag No. 4: Lack of energy. Just staring at the ceiling? I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it with my own eyes, which I didn't because as I was just about to get something to drink, I heard the fiance's dad say, "Oh! She's throwing up!"

It goes without saying that last part was the final red flag that got my attention. I quickly grabbed her from her sitting position on the bed, head down, throwing up on her carpet and brought her into the bathroom and quickly gave her a lesson in throwing up in the toilet, which, surprisingly, she understood. Then, I started to run the bath and clean her up.

Her new state of having little energy meant she was also a willing patient and actually listened to me. The fiance and his family helped out as much as they could. I was surprised the fiance even touched her clothes with vomit on them and brought them down to wash them.

Once she was bathed, we got jammies on and went into my room to lay down for a bit. The fiance provided waste buckets and the next time L. threw up, she learned to use the bucket. Oh, but not before throwing up on my shirt and jeans when she held onto me right before doing so. Yup, there was plenty of bl'eâ there.

The fiance sat with her (yes, during his party) while I cleaned up the vomit in her room. I would text him throughout the evening with things I wanted, but for the most part, while the party was going on, L. sat between my legs, head resting on my chest, as we watched "Mary Poppins," sipping Pedialyte here and there.

Guests stopped by the doorway every so often to check on us or to say goodnight. By the end of the night, L. had moved to her side and I was behind her, stroking her back as I heard her fall asleep. She hadn't thrown up in a while so I moved her to her own bed and turned up the monitor extra loud because I had a feeling I was in for a long night.

Our elf Banjo was so quick to get back from
the North Pole just to cheer L. up that night.

An hour later, I heard her moving (yes, the monitor was turned up that much) and I went to check on her. I got to her just in time as she started sounding like she was going to throw up. She ran with me to the bathroom and stood over the toilet until everything came up. That was my breaking point of bl'eâ. As I was stroking her hair and holding her back, the sounds of her throwing up in between cries not quite understanding what was happening was too much and I started crying as I was saying, "I know, sweetie, it hurts, you'll feel better when you're done, I promise, it'll be OK ... "

Just then, I felt a hand on my back and it was the fiance, who knew I needed just as much support as L. at that moment.

Once she was finished, I held her in my arms and the fiance told me we would take shifts with her if this continued all night.

Luckily, that was last time, but she still wanted me with her so I got comfy on the little foldout foam couch on the floor of her room and held her hand as we fell asleep to "Mary Poppins" again. (Listen, I'm all about finding alternatives to the TV, but when my little girl is sick, all mom guilt and screen time warnings are out the window. Unless I am ignoring the fact she's sick, I am not a bad mom. There's something freeing about being able to shut off that part of my brain for a little while.)

During the night, she was up a few more times, not to throw up though. Just general stomach ickiness and I would cuddle her back to sleep and alternate between my bed and the foam couch in her room. At 8 a.m., L. got me up and we watched "Mary Poppins" again then snuggled on the couch until her dad got out of work to pick her up.

The little patient, probably on her fourth or
fifth viewing of "Mary Poppins."
She didn't throw up again, but she was tired and pretty low on energy for the next few days, slowly regaining her appetite. 

I can't even imagine how scary that was for her, even on a relative scale to how scary it was for me. I've started telling myself some nights when I get to hold her in my arms as she's falling asleep, "You won't remember this, but I will." 

Now, that phrase made me feel even better, since I knew she wouldn't remember this particular night or what happened or how much pain she was in. But I would remember how I was there for her, how after learning to throw up in the bucket, she turned her head, gave a weak smile and said, 'All better!" How her hand held mine tightly, then released gradually each time as she fell asleep during the night. And how the fiance held me and told me what a great mom I was as I got into bed that afternoon to take a nap before work.