Friday, May 22, 2009

Another Parenting Milestone Reached ...

The milestone of being up all night with a sick child, that is.

Last night around 10:30pm, I looked at the video monitor and saw a large dark spot next to Gwen's head. She was tossing and turning and trying to get comfortable, which is pretty normal. "Hmm," I thought. "It almost looks like she's thrown up in the crib, and doesn't want to put her head down in it!" For some reason, I didn't actually take this thought seriously. One year in, and I'm still such a newbie at this.

About an hour later as we were heading to bed (we were up late waiting for news from Sheila), I showed Chris the spot I was talking about on the monitor. He agreed that it totally looked like vomit, and that I should go check it out. I stealthily opened the door and was immediately hit with a Bad, Bad Smell. I returned to our bedroom and told Chris that we definitely had a vomit situation on our hands. But what to do? Gwen was, for the moment, sleeping. Should we wake her up in order to clean her and her bed? Or wait until she woke up on her own? It seemed unfair to disturb her. Fortunately (or not), our quandary was settled quickly as she began to whimper.

I picked Gwen up and brought her into my darkened room, thinking she might settle down and snuggle in while Chris cleaned up her crib. But the extent of regurgitation was much, much worse than we'd originally thought. Gwen was absolutely soaked, and her hair was full of vomit, and she smelled like she'd taken a bath in stomach acid. Which is more or less what had happened, because I with the awesome mothering skills let her lay in that puddle of puke for an HOUR. Failmom!

I stripped off her pajamas while Chris changed the crib sheets and opened the window to air out the room. He reported that everything she had eaten since 4pm that day was now spattered across her bed. It soon became obvious that she needed a bath, so at midnight - with a guest sleeping downstairs, no less - we ran the tub. (Poor Kat picked a hell of a night to sleep over, but apparently she didn't hear a thing.) I bathed Gwen while Chris got a bottle - we reasoned she'd be pretty hungry, now that her tummy was absolutely empty. She had a bit of dry heaving in the tub before getting out.

She wasn't running a temp, and in fact seemed a little cold and shivery, so we bundled her up in jammies and a couple of blankets and she cuddled on my lap while she drank the bottle and we discussed calling the Nurse Line. It was almost sweet; she was semi-swaddled, it was just like old times. Then she vomited the milk she'd just drank all over herself, me, the blankets, and her clean jammies.

Think about how horrible an experience throwing up is, and then picture how horrible it is for a child who has no idea what is happening to her. When Gwen threw up in my lap, she looked terrified. In between gags, she looked at me as if to say, "Why aren't you FIXING this?" I felt awful. All I could do was hold her and comfort her and tell her I was there, then clean her up and start settling her down all over again. Immediately after vomiting, she tucked her head into my chest with her face turned downwards, and that was the first time I felt really scared. That is not my Gwen. There was fear in that posture, and shame, and weariness, and that is not who she is. She was trying to hide from her pain and seek physical comfort, and that just DOES NOT happen. She held so still. "We're calling the Nurse Line," I said.

We called at about 12:45 am and got lots of good advice and sympathy. It makes such a difference to talk to someone who is not only a nurse, but a parent as well: we got advice like, "Maybe one parent should go to bed so you can spell each other off through the night," and "Make sure whatever she's wearing doesn't have to come off over her head, because that will be unpleasant if it gets covered in vomit." We also got all the info about signs of dehydration, how to keep her comfortable, and when to seek medical attention (answer: not yet).

The bottom line was: if she went an hour without vomiting, we could offer 1 oz of clear liquids every 20 minutes. Only once she went 6 hours without vomiting could we offer food, and even then it should be the BRAT diet. (We are very, very familiar with the BRAT diet thanks to our experience with the Norovirus last April.)

It had been about half an hour since she threw up, so we decided to stay up another half hour and see if we could get some water into her. Before that half hour was up, she had another case of the dry heaves. The area around her mouth and eyes went horribly gray. It was nearly 2am, we were all exhausted - including poor Gwen - and I decided we should just let her get some sleep instead of staying up another hour to give her a drink. I tucked her back into bed, and she was asleep almost immediately.

This morning she seems just a bit off: her walking isn't as controlled as it normally is, which could be due to having less food and liquid in her system. She had a wet diaper this morning and another one before her nap. We've been giving her fruit juice cut with water at about a 1:4 ratio, breaking my cardinal rule of No Juice Evar. It's been almost 12 hours since she last threw up.

Another thing no one ever thinks to mention about parenting: at some point, you will have to spoonfeed a child who has had nausea and vomiting in the past 24 hours. And this is horrible, because the child cannot and will not tell you "I don't want to eat right now, my tummy's upset." So with every bite you wonder if you are making your child feel better or worse. It's like a game of Vomit Roulette.

I'm glad this happened on a night before my day off. I had all kinds of exciting plans for us today, including a return to Strong Start (it's been about six weeks since we last attended) and a walk with some friends (it's a stunningly gorgeous day outside), not to mention the THREE birthday parties we were invited to over the weekend. But since I have no idea what's made her sick - whether it was just something she ate, or if she has a virus - I can't very well take her out and have her share the germs. So, home we shall stay. Like I said I'm just glad I have the opportunity to be home with her.


Kim said...

Poor little one :( I'm glad she seems to be feeling a bit better, though!

Anonymous said...

Hi. You don't know me, but I've created a "infertility group" blog. I love chatting with other who have been though what I have and wanted to let you know about it.

Amberism said...

(you're infertile?)

You're going to hate me, but I've yet to go through this (the puke-at-night thing, I've done a bit of puking during the day, and a bit of late-night consoling, but never both).

I am so glad that it didn't last for a week and Miss Gwen never got dehydrated or anything of that sort. Poor wee little thing, and what a trooper! There are many a baby who wouldn't just wimper, they'd be screaming like they were being skinned alive.

My Mom says that is both a blessing and a curse for you (apparently I was that baby - oh how things change!) because she suspects that Gwen will usually be pretty easy-going about being sick but then you're always sort of guessing as to how sick she might be because she's so tough!


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