Every parent can relate to having a sick child at home. They’re cranky, they don’t know what they want, and they can’t tell you what’s wrong. There’s nothing you can do to make them feel better, and you just feel helpless. You call the doctor over and over, and every time they have the same answer: It’s just a bug; you’ll have to let it pass. Soon, that helplessness turns to anxiety. Then to irritation and anger. The more your baby cries and fusses, the more upset you seem to get.
You’re not mad at your baby, but your frustration makes it seem that way. All you want is for him to get better, but there’s still not a damn thing you can do to make it happen quickly. This was me recently. My son caught a nasty stomach bug at daycare. I put him to bed one night after daycare and within twenty minutes, he had thrown up all over his crib. I changed the linens, put him in new pajamas, and laid him back down for bed, thinking that maybe he just drank his milk too fast.
Then it happened again. And again. And again. By morning, his carpet, crib, and the recliner in his room were all covered in vomit. He had been through five pairs of pajamas, and I smelled terrible from trying to care for him and laying on the floor next to his crib. My husband and I were both exhausted, and I had a shit ton of laundry I now had to do.
I spent that next day at home with him, cleaning up mess after mess when he got sick. Finally, the puking stopped. But now, he had a terrible cold. The fussiness continued. I was to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. He was constantly upset or wanting to be held. I couldn’t make him happy, I couldn’t make him feel better, and any medicine I gave him came right back up. I was ready to pull my hair out, and needed a break from my son.
Then, I had a moment. One of those moments that reminds you why you chose to have kids in the first place. It was time to put Oliver to bed, and I was so excited. I was just ready for a break and some real sleep. He still wasn’t feeling well, but he wasn’t fussing either. We did our normal bedtime routine…pajamas, milk, and sitting with mommy in the recliner. And he turned around, hugged me tightly, and fell asleep in my arms. He’s almost 18 months, and never sits still. But this time, all he wanted was mommy. And all I wanted was him. All my frustration with him that had built up suddenly went POOF.
It took me a long time to lay him in his crib that night. I sat there, staring at his long eyelashes and his chubby little cheeks. I held his hand and smelled his hair. I couldn’t take it in long enough. I could’ve sat there all night with him. You know those moments when you hold a newborn baby, and you can’t get enough of that baby smell? You just keep sniffing and sniffing, trying to take it all in. Or when you’re eating your favorite food and you’re stuffed, but you can’t quit eating it? It was like that. I didn’t want it to end. I even tried snapping photos so that I could remember it forever, as if it was going to be the last time he ever fell asleep on me.
People usually call me the “bitch” of the family. I’m the one who doesn’t feel. The one who doesn’t cry. The one who says it like it is. The one who’s “cold-hearted.” …Or so I’ve been told. But that night, that tiny little boy filled me with so much warmth. That night, my sweet Oliver reminded me why I loved him so much.
I thank God every day for my husband and the family he gave me. It’s made me a different person. That night I was reminded of how lucky I really was. Sitting there, smelling like puke, covered in baby snot, and tired as hell…I was the luckiest mommy in the world.