Humour, Motherhood, Olive

The Sickness


making sick beats, by WitchIsWhichStitch on Etsy

This bedtime thing has been in full swing for two weeks now and it’s already paying off. How, you ask? Are my undereye circles gone? Am I filled with a renewed sense of vim and vigour? Do I leap out of bed every morning, eager to greet a new day?

No. Gross. Absolutely not. What the hell is vim and vigour anyway?

I still loathe bedtimes 80% of the time, and I think I will always loathe waking up. BUT, I must say, once I am in bed disgustingly early, and once I wake up, also disgustingly early, I love it. I do. Getting there is a battle, but I’ll be honest, it pays off. BUT, this isn’t a bedtime post. This is a post about how bedtime saved my ass (and my sheets, at least temporarily) the other night.

Gather ’round, children, for a real horror story, mom-style.

It was 10:30pm, and let me blow your mind by telling you that I was actually heading to bed early because I was tired. I know, I barely recognize myself either. Anyway, I did my whole bedtime thing – you know, the tooth brushing and flossing, the face washing and moisturizing, the examining my reflection for new grey hairs and wrinkles and then moaning and gnashing my teeth about said grey hairs and wrinkles and then adjusting the angle and lighting of the mirror until I can’t see the grey hairs and wrinkles anymore and then trying to memorize that posture so I can use it as my go-to photo pose from now on.

Everyone does that, right?


So I’d finished all this, and headed into bed. Olive usually sleeps in my bed because she’s warm and cuddly and why not, so I got into my jammies and crawled into bed next to her. She sleeps a lot like I do – takes her forever to get there but once she’s out, she’s out, so she didn’t so much as stir when I lay down.

I was just closing my eyes and praying it would take me less than 90 minutes to fall asleep, when I heard her cough.

It was a normal cough, at first. And I registered it as such. “Ah, my child is coughing” I thought to myself.

And then I registered a different sort of sound. A wet..choking..gurgling sound. And at this point my thoughts included many, many more swears,

I bolted out of bed, turned on the light, and saw two things simultaneously.

1) A small pile of something weird and wet on Olive’s pillow and
2) Olive herself, cheeks weirdly bulging, wide-eyed with panic and that’s when I realized holy shit she’s going to BLOWshe’spukingshe’spukedshe’sgoingtopukeagainGOOOOOO

I whipped that 40lb kid up in my arms as easily as those people filled with adrenaline pull burning cars off of their loved ones. I raced next door to the bathroom and the second I lifted the toilet lid, the entire contents of her stomach were ejected into the toilet bowl. It was like everything she had ever eaten from birth until now was being summoned from the depths of her body into the toilet with alarming force.

Kids throwing up is the saddest thing ever, because they have no idea what is happening to them. First they feel all janky and then suddenly all the stuff they’d put in their mouths is coming out of their mouths and then they’re yanked out of bed and it’s bright and cold and their head is being put over the toilet where their butt usually goes and it’s all very confusing and terrifying.

Plus, even as an adult I always cry when I throw up because the whole thing is so unglamourous and devastating, so I didn’t blame her one bit when she started to cry.

I wiped her face and flushed the toilet and gave her some water and changed the pillowcase and put a towel down in case it happened again. She was out within five seconds of her head hitting the pillow and I was standing there beside the bed breathing heavily like “WTF just happened and how can I possibly sleep now?”

But, I must have fallen asleep again because the next thing I knew I was waking up, and I was waking up to the sound of that same strange wet coughing except this time she was in mid-puke already so I just sort of tried to angle her towards the towel but she was fighting me because she’d figured out this whole backwards chain of events and knew now that things coming out of your mouth go in the toilet, so I was wrestling her while repeating, “It’s ok! Just throw up here! There’s no time!” because every parent has learned the hard way that carrying a puking child just means increasing the blast radius. Contain the damage, right?

When she’d finished, I cleaned up the towel and then changed the sheets because one towel can only do so much, and this time we had to shower because as any good barstar knows, girls + puke = puke in hair. Because we just have a shower stall not a bath and because she was so disoriented, I had to get in with her, and if washing her hair on a normal day is a bloodbath this was eight times worse but we DID it! We did it.

I’ll save you some time and cut to the chase by saying that by the time the morning rolled around we’d changed the sheets two more times, had one more shower, and then both collapsed into deep zombie sleeps, hoping the worst was over.

It wasn’t.

When I woke up, the bed felt wet.

I lay there and, without opening my eyes, asked Olive if she peed the bed. She lay there too, not moving, and replied, “Yes. I’m sorry. I did it on purpose. I was so tired.”

You know what, Olive? I too sometimes dream about being able to just lie in bed and piss myself instead of getting up and walking the twenty steps to the bathroom, but we’re attempting to resemble civilized human beings here, so we don’t do that! Well, I don’t, anyway. Jesus christ.

So now it was Thursday morning and every single one of my sheets and towels were filled with pee and puke and I looked like the girl from The Ring and Olive was inexplicably chipper and cheery and I wanted to murder everything that wasn’t coffee.

Then Olive got a haircut and looked like this, and I had a full-on mom-moment and cried in a place called “Beaners”. She just looked so chic! And elegant! And OLD!
2016-01-14 (1) 2016-01-14

Aaaand then as we were driving home, The Sickness hit me too. And because there is no justice in the world, whereas Olive’s Sickness was just an overnight thing, my illness has lasted for the past three days and yesterday the guy I’ve been seeing came over to help and, damn, if you ever want to test a man, try this. Because when they see you after you’ve done nothing but puke for two days and your entire house is full of dirty laundry and your kid has been running amok for 24 hours so everything is everywhere, and instead of being phased they just calmly start doing dishes…. Glory, you know? Glory and gold stars.

And even though Olive only threw up that one night, the events were so horrific that they’ve since been burned into my skull forever and I think I might have some sort of lingering trauma as a result. Post Traumatic Puking Disorder. Is that a thing? It is now.

Last night Olive woke up coughing and I was bolt upright and had her halfway to the bathroom before I was even fully awake, shrieking “ARE YOU PUKING? IS IT HAPPENING AGAIN? ARE YOU THROWING UP? ARE YOU GOING TO THROW UP? IN THE TOILET! DO YOUR TERRIBLE BUSINESS IN THE TOILET!”

Ha! It turns out she was just coughing, but I couldn’t stop seeing the carnage and remembering washing puke out of her hair in the shower at 3am while she angrily clawed at me and I didn’t stop trembling for twenty-five minutes. Guys, I still haven’t gotten through the laundry!

After I put her back into bed, I went back to the bathroom. I stared at myself in the mirror for a little bit longer, assessing the new wrinkles and the new grey hairs. No matter how I tilted the mirror or angled the lights, it was clear that this episode, The Sickness, had taken a bitter, bitter toll on this face of mine.

Thus concludes my tale of woe and puke.  The moral of the story is bedtimes are good, I’m old, children are disgusting germ factories, and every parent everywhere should invest in a quality mattress protector.

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  • Reply Andrea January 16, 2016 at 4:10 PM

    We so had it too. I got to throw up in public, on a sidewalk. Little man was so asleep puking his face off and passing back out in it. This was our first rodeo so on purge 1, I changed his whole set-up- complete with new stuffed animal, clean jams, etc. After purge 2 I was like, “Ooohhhhh- camping cot next to my bed with towels it is!” Glad you’re through it!

  • Reply Laura January 16, 2016 at 4:17 PM

    Puke bucket, man. Save your sanity (and your blast radius).

  • Reply Heather C January 16, 2016 at 4:29 PM

    I accidentally under-cooked my 14 months old’s frozen fish on December 23rd (first night of holidays!) and she threw up 6 times in 90 minutes. It was simultaneously heartbreaking and disgusting.

    I also learned that night that she doesn’t chew her grapes properly but instead swallows them in one piece like a penguin with a fish.

    In summary, you have my deepest sympathies.

  • Reply Deann Haugen January 16, 2016 at 4:34 PM

    We just had this last week too. Toddlers puking is the worst. Mine learned that after puking you wash your hands so then mid purge would starting yelling “wash hands! Wash hands!!!” And frantically reach for the sink. I think this is how OCD starts. Hers lasted 6 hours, mine was 3 days. Because you know, no sleeping for the mama.

  • Reply becklist January 16, 2016 at 4:46 PM

    Eating dry Cheerios during a stomach bug has saved my soul more than once.

  • Reply Saffron January 16, 2016 at 5:16 PM

    My boy when he was nine months old has this weird coughing and vomiting thing and it always happened before naps (thanks god not at night!) and he would cough and then spray the whole of his room and me with sick! I got to the point when every time he coughed I ran him outside like a crazy person! And my main thought was jeez you’re only tiny where is this all coming from!

  • Reply Emily January 16, 2016 at 5:28 PM

    I could have told almost this exact story myself, 3am cough turned into puking, though I very gratefully no longer share a bed with my 3.25-year-old. Luckily she finally learned to love the puke bowl, and carried it around for several days just in case. Now all of her stuffed animals have fallen sick in the last few months and usually have a sick bowl beside them in bed. Hope you’ve all recovered well! We feel your pain.

  • Reply H January 16, 2016 at 7:12 PM

    I have three little kids and every bed has a plastic bucket next to it and there are two in the car. Put a little water in the bottom and it is much easier to rinse out the puke. Just a little FYI. And I, too, wake up with adrenaline pumping at every noise that could be construed as a gurgling cough.

  • Reply heidi ruckriegel January 16, 2016 at 10:02 PM

    Well, that brings back a few memories. My daughter was the specialist in this, even a bucket under the bed wasn’t much good as she’d usually wake up covered in it. My son had a more delayed reaction! I’m hopeless myself as I usually faint if I throw up, so that made for fun times back when I had morning sickness! The kids have left home, but the cat gets furballs and has a spectacular hoiking cough, usually spraying everything out just as I nearly have him out the door. There’s no end to it!

  • Reply Natasha January 17, 2016 at 12:44 AM

    My little one sleeps with me when she’s pukey too – after puke number one, it’s evacuate her own bed, move into the other side of mine, padded with towels, and a large bowl in between my pillow and hers. Next puke is in the bowl (forcefully held there, as for some reason kids don’t want to puke in the bowl). Definitely saves a lot of sheets! Big girl can get herself up out of bed and down the hallway to the toilet to puke and put herself back to bed. It’s Awesome. Mind you (and I’m probably tempting fate by saying this) I feel like we’ve had almost every puke bug on planet earth, so it’s been a while since there’ve been any bed bowls or midnight sheet changes or hallway dashing episodes…

  • Reply lauralandgreen January 17, 2016 at 7:07 AM

    Oh good Lord, this is my worst nightmare. Ever since a girl puked into my backpack in third grade (like 25 years ago… ) I’ve become a sympathetic vomiter. It’s so bad that I questioned my ability to have children and nurture them while sick! With two boys under three, we’ve had some throwing up for sure and I do the EXACT same thing with every noise I hear in the night. Major post-traumatic puking disorder! The struggle is real. I’m glad you two are feeling better and I adore Olive’s big girl haircut, even if she does look like a mini teenager.

  • Reply cookie1986 January 17, 2016 at 11:38 AM

    The worst ever.
    Although “every good barstar knows that girls+puke =puke in hair” made me laugh really hard.
    Sorry for your misery, friend.

  • Reply Shoshana January 18, 2016 at 9:58 AM

    Thanks for the laugh! For the record, I am not laughing at you, but with you (as I am sure you can laugh a little now and not then). I have been through that a few times. I even had, what I refer to as the puke-athon, with my older daughter about 6 months ago. She puked all night and didn’t stop until the morning at which point we both collapsed on the bathroom floor and slept there because it was just easier.

  • Reply littleonemp January 18, 2016 at 3:30 PM

    I’m sorry but I about died laughing. But it was an uncomfortable, “god my puking experiences have been so much more terrifying, you should feel lucky this is all it was” sort of laughing. So an empathetic laugh. All of my son’s puking stories involve the hospital, so I couldn’t even begin to put a fun light on them. But I tested my husband in a similar way. Except the puking was from me, on his bed and myself, after a night at the bar… So any man who can deal with seeing you at your worst, is a keeper 🙂
    Hope you and Olive are both feeling better, and that over time the puking trauma fades.

  • Reply Mon July 24, 2018 at 9:17 PM

    This is effing brilliant writing. I can’t wait to use this in a future nonfiction unit. Much love to you and O.

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