Monday, January 15, 2007

A Condemned Man

What a difference a night can make. Earlier this evening, Kara and I enjoyed one of those rare romantic moments on a blanket in front of a roaring fire in our none-too-often used bedroom retreat… and an hour later, Natalie’s laying on the floor by the very same fireplace under a few blankets, using a folded up towel for a pillow because her's is covered in vomit.

I thought the night was done; it’s been a difficult weekend, health wise, and you know that wonderful feeling of climbing into bed, thinking that all the troubles of the day and worries about tomorrow fall by the wayside during a few hours of coveted slumber? That was me. Kara was out. I was almost asleep, watching the last few minutes of a stupid movie, “Periscope Down,” when Matthew starts crying, wide awake. He’s been on a juice diet for a couple of days because milk makes him yak. He has the flu, stomach variety, and he spent most of yesterday throwing up and blowing out diapers so badly that we deemed his pajamas unsalvagable (and there was only a few small inches of area on the diaper that wasn't covered... I kid you not).

Anyway, unsuccessful at putting him back down, I wake up the reserves and Kara takes over. Suddenly, Natalie’s calling for help from her bedroom in that all to familiar sound of a sick little girl, somewhat muffled and forelorn. I take Matthew from Kara and we both start to her rescue. The smell hits me like a punch in the face long before I walk in the door. Natalie threw up all over her bed, herself and her pillow, even the Glow Worm got a piece of it. She’s frozen in place, unable to move for fear of miring further in the viscous vomit, and she’s partially embarrassed that she made such a mess and partially upset that she thinks she’s forever ruined her sheets and her pajamas (special ones that match those of her American Girl doll). It’s after midnight, all the lights are on upstairs and Matthew looks at me with that wide-eyed thrilling gawk of excitement he gets when there’s drama afoot; he’s not going back to bed any time soon, probably thinking, “Hey, I already puked in my bed. I’m glad it’s someone else’s turn this time. Being a spectator rocks.”

So we strip Natalie to nothing, and pull apart her bed, toss everything into the third bathroom’s bathtub and carry a sticky Natalie to our tub for her second bath of the night. The water’s warm but she’s shivering and looking a little sad. Matthew’s hanging his arms over the side of the tub, repeating “bahh, bahh,” maybe hoping he’s going to be next, but intent nonetheless about watching the proceedings. Gnat looks tired, worn out, a little despondent, sitting there motionless in the soapy water.

I go back and see what I can do in her room. It smells like a toxic waste dump, and despite the 30 degree weather outside, I turn off her heat vent, open the window and close the door behind me to hopefully air it out a little. Matthew’s delighted by the chaos, but I can tell he’s tired. We all are, and I'm sure this is just the beginning of the night.

But we all have to sleep...somewhere.

The last thing I want is a germ factory sleeping in our bed (like I'm not already infected with whatever bug is floating around the house)—and if someone throws up on our bed, it isn’t designed to repel it like kids’ mattresses; ours is a sponge—so I set up an adventure sleeping bed for Natalie, campground style in front of the fireplace. A couple of blankets for padding, a set of sheets and our last “extra” pillow. I moved the small TV and put in “Sleeping Beauty” for her to watch, something to get her mind off of throwing up. It worked too well. She threw up out of the side of her mouth because she didn’t want to miss a moment of the movie. So, pillow number two gets tossed into the tub and an expendable towel goes down under her. “What’s that for?” she asks. “It’s so you can be more comfortable,” I answer as she lays her head down, not wanting to say "so you won't ruin our blankets." “Oh, it’s soft.”

Elsa’s fascinated by all of the commotion, like always, and the smell of vomit is too much for her to ignore, so she takes a special interest in Natalie, the source. I’d like to think that she was concerned that Natalie was sick, which is why she wanted to lay down next to her, but she was probably hoping someone would spill something she could lap up. Sorry old girl, maybe next time.

After three times of coating the bottom of the bucket with barf (it is the wash tub we got from the hospital when she was born) and washing it out in the sink, Natalie had finally hit the empty mark on her stomach. The last time she was sick was at Julie and Joe’s wedding in April 2005, and she had no idea what was going on; what normally went in her mouth came flying out and there was nothing for her to do but keep backing up and let it fly. Luckily we were in a hotel, but unlucky for the maid, I guess (if you ever stay at the San Diego Hilton, don't ask for Room 623). This time, she was able to sit up and say, “Daddy, I’m going to be sick,” which gave me enough time to position the bucket under her before she erupted. I held her hair back and let her rest her forehead on my palm, and I haven’t held back a girl’s hair while she threw up since Kara’s at that USC party in 1993…good times. A couple of dry heaves later (and the end of the movie, of course), everyone’s asleep, finally. Elsa’s snoring, the baby monitor is humming and Kara and Natalie are adventure sleeping in the retreat.

I’m sure I’m next.

I feel like I’m sitting in a prison cell with my execution scheduled for the morning. As sure as the sun setting tomorrow night, I’m going to talk with Ralph on the Big White Telephone, as the bug will make it’s way up the family tree to me. It seems to strike in order of size: First Matthew, then Natalie… probably next will be Kara and then inevitable it will grab a hold of me by the stomach and drop me to the floor.

Perhaps it is psychological, but my stomach feels a little sour right now.

Natalie just awoke to throw up again.

Ugg. Wish me luck.

1 comment:

Kara said...

No, I am sure I am next!


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