Mothers Don’t Get a Sick Day… AKA Vomitfest 2012

Back in the day, when I was a young college student and “boot-and-rallying” was a badge of honor, the name “Vomitfest 2012” would have implied a crazy night involving numerous shots of dubious quality, dancing on the bar 100% convinced that I looked fabulous, possibly an ill-informed bar-makeout session, and ending most definitely by kneeling before the porcelain goddess before hitting up Denny’s for pancakes, french fries and cheesesticks.  Now that I am a mom, the word vomit doesn’t conjure up nearly such grand images.

Vomitfest 2012 started as my nights rarely do with a dinner out with girlfriends. My husband was home with my daughter, and I was a carefree woman on the loose, free to enjoy a great restaurant with a wide variety of delicious dishes, which I would greatly regret later, and many drinks. Later that night, as my husband and I were going to bed, I started to get a raging headache and a fluttery stomach.  I joked, “Is it bad that I am ALREADY hung over?”  This might be the first time that I have ever said this, but oh, how I wish I was hung over.

By 2 am I was puking my soul.  After 10 minutes of vomiting so hard that I expected my head to spin around, Linda Blair style, I returned to bed, chilled and sweating.  I heard my daughter making a little noise and coughing a bit, so I looked on the monitor to see her calmly sitting her crib.  I repeat “calmly sitting her crib.” At 2 am.  Not crying (which is scary at 2 am because you know it’s going to be a long night,) not playing (even scarier as this usually equals an even longer night,) but calmly sitting up in the corner of her crib, hardly moving a muscle (the scariest thing I have ever seen, akin to Paranormal Activity.) My husband goes to check on her and after 10 minutes I hear him call my name.  I rush to her nursery and discover what looks like a horrific crime scene… an explosion of purple-black vomit (the result of some unfortunate blueberries for lunch) covering every surface of my daughter’s crib and my daughter herself as she lay on the floor, staring sightlessly into space.  My husband says, “Can you watch her?  I’m going to be sick.” as he rushes out of the room, and I am left with my filthy, sick daughter, wishing that I had something left to throw up.

Seeing my normally active-bordering-on-manic daughter laying on the floor barely blinking was probably the scariest experience yet in my short career as a mom, and I instantly forgot my own illness and snapped into Mommy Mode.  I swept my daughter up and began to hum while initiating the Mommy Mode Cleaning Cycle (when you don’t know what to do, clean!) opening windows and stripping off pjs and sheets. Somewhere during this time frame I was vaguely aware of the fact that my husband had returned with the news that he was also throwing up and, after briefly passing out in the bathroom, had called 911.  Even armed with that news, I was still quite surprised when halfway into my Mommy Mode Cleaning Cycle, 6 giant men stormed into my house.

Now I realize that my husband had told me that he called 911, but for some reason I thought that he had called a fictitious 911 advice line, where they had given him some sage advice and then hung up.  Apparently this does not exist.  And if you have never called 911 before, let me tell you a little secret:  when you call, they come… 6 big men and a fire truck and an ambulance.  I know this because I said, “Wow.  There are a lot of you guys.  So, this is what happens when you call 911?  I wish I would have known this when I was single.”   In my defense, I make really bad jokes when I am nervous and right then I was scared as hell.

Ignoring me, the six giant medic-firemen continued to storm around the house testing for carbon monoxide, while taking our blood pressure and asking all kinds of questions like, “What did you eat for dinner? Could this be food poisoning?” (We all ate separately. No.) “Could you be pregnant?” (Recoil in horror. No.) “Do you use recreational drugs?” (After this experience I am considering it, but… No.) “Do you have any known enemies who would want to harm you?” (um. swallow… run through a fairly long list of people I have offended in my head and decide that there is no one who would want to actually kill me…No.) “You go to Lake Powell?” (Yes. No. What…Huh?)  “I saw your photo there at Lake Powell.  We all go every year. It’s pretty cool.” (Now, I know that I’m not a trained firefighter or medical professional, but how is looking at my family photos helping anyone?  Just… No.)

Anyway, after of all this, they deemed our house free of carbon monoxide and determined that we had most likely all gotten a stomach flu at exactly the same time.  They did suggest that we take Lyla to the ER because she is so small and susceptible to dehydration.  We declined the fancy $1500-a-pop 5 minute ambulance ride and decided to drive our daughter to the ER ourselves.  So, armed with a plastic bag for me and a waterproof bib for Lyla, we headed to the closest ER.  After a brief detour so I could throw up in the parking lot, we made it inside and proceeded to wait… and wait… and wait.  My daughter, of course, didn’t get the memo that we were waiting and continued to throw up continuously.  I guess you truly know that you are a mom when you let your daughter throw up on your neck because you can tell by her frightened eyes that loosening her death grip on you is not an option.

After what seemed like an puke-soaked eternity, they finally brought us in.  They checked out Lyla and said that she was going to be just fine.  They gave her an anti-nausea medicine and some Pedialyte, and after a while they let us go.  On the car ride home she was already returning to her normal self, singing and playing with her toys.  By this time it was 6 am and after a 3 hour nap she was as good as new.  Her parents, however,were another story.  I have never been so relieved to see her tearing around the house, causing her usual chaos and destruction.  But as thrilled as I was that she was doing better, when I looked at the clock and saw that it was only 10 am and realized that we still had to get through the entire day… if I wasn’t already throwing up, I would have thrown up.  That’s when I came to harsh realization that parenthood is the only job that truly has no sick days. My husband and I had to take care of our daughter.  But who was going to take care of us?

Somehow we managed to tag team our way through a long, long (long, long) day with a little help from Sesame Street (for 5 minutes) Etch-a-sketch (6 minutes) and Goodnight Moon (11 times and counting).  Finally at 9 Pm, we put Lyla down for the night, slapped each other a pathetic high-five and passed out.  Lyla let us sleep for a blissful 11 hours and I woke up feeling… well maybe not 100% physically (or even close really), but in some ways even better than 100%. There’s something about that first day back after being really sick that makes you appreciate everything a bit more. I appreciate the energy and life in my sweet, wonderful, crazy daughter; I appreciate that I have a husband with whom I am sure that together we can face any obstacle (even when the obstacles are coming out of both ends); and I appreciate how damn good it feels to just feel normal.

Now I’m going to go celebrate life, love and health… by drinking till I feel like crap.

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