One morning at 7:00 a.m. when the kids weren’t quite one, I was changing Spencer’s diaper at the changing table. Charlie crawled over and pulled up to stand at the my feet, hovering and clinging. It wasn’t really unusual that the kids stayed close to me or wanted to have frequent physical contact, but this morning Charlie seemed particularly more clingy than usual. I knew why when he threw up all over my feet.
I finished cleaning Spencer up from his messy diaper as quickly as I could, assuring Charlie, whimpering and holding onto my legs, that I’d be with him as soon as possible. Once Spencer was good to go, I put him down—clear from the mess on the floor—and turned my attention to Charlie. After I got him, and me, cleaned up, we went ahead with our morning, spending a lot of the time pampering Charlie, who was mopey and clingy. Two hours later, almost on the dot, Spencer threw up. Uh boy. It looked like maybe something was going around.
At 11:00, Jason called me from work. He’d been throwing up and was going to try to come home, if he could make it. He wasn’t certain because it was touch and go on keeping the regurgitation from regurgitating.
He got home, climbed into bed, and I continued to take care of the two sick boys, who were clearly too young to know how to make it to the toilet or even use the barf bowl at the bedside to avoid further mishaps and cleanup jobs for Mom.
Two hours later, Pierce joined the ranks, barfing on cue when the clock struck 1:00. Things were not looking promising.
Two hours later, at 3:00 (maybe 3:05) it hit me. Into the bathroom I went, nothing staying down, feeling awful and feverish and pretty much useless.
If you’ve done the math, you’ll know we were down by five. That left Molly. And guess what. 5:00 p.m. came and she did not succumb. She was up and playing, and running around like it was a holiday. She had everything to herself, no brothers in her way, no one to tell her what to do.
And somehow, she never did get sick. And when a near-one-year-old doesn’t get sick, she still wants to eat. She still needs a mother—the one who is in her bed moaning, trying to keep it down, doing very little mothering and hoping the abandoned sons in their cribs would be safe while she tried to recover from some kind of rampant flu bug that took out 5/6s of the population. When I couldn’t put off feeding Molly anymore, I staggered into the kitchen. Unable to even stay on my feet long enough to fix her bottle, I lay down on the kitchen floor as soon as I got the supplies out. Oh, that cool kitchen floor was such sweet relief to my febrile face! Molly played around me, crawling over me, thinking it was a game. While I lay out horizontal across the kitchen tiles, my hand shaky and my aim imprecise, I tried to focus and actually pour the formula into the open neck of the bottle instead of all over the floor, because if I missed, it would just be staying there for a while.
I got the bottle made and Molly got her supper, at least in bottle form. Not very filling for a toddler on table food, but we did what we could. It took at least 24 hours for each of us to stop retching. After that, about every two hours in reverse, someone began to recover and could wobble out into the living room and try to rejoin the land of the living. Molly never did get sick. She was a machine! I chalked it up to her nine months of breastfeeding. They always say that babies who breast feed get sick less because they get their mother’s antibodies. But the whole episode makes me wonder: where were those antibodies she got from me when I needed them?
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