The house smells sour no matter how many windows I open and how many blankets I wash. Both of my children spent the night throwing up, often in their sleep, and waking up to the hot wetness of their vomit. Paul was on bath duty and scrubbed down crying sick bodies. I was on bed detail, stripping sheets, rinsing chunks into the toilet, and filling the washing machine over and over again with soiled blankets, towels, and jammies. Eventually, I transplanted Sam onto the couch while taking the adjacent one so I could hear the first gag and catch further episodes in a bucket. This finally ended the messiness, and at two in the morning, I sent Paul to bed so he could get some sleep before work. I laid awake on the couch, one ear down the hall in Annie’s room, and the other on nearby Sam’s sleepy sighs. Occasionally, I would hide my phone beneath my blanket and google things like “when do children grow out of puking in their sleep,” “how to get vomit stains out of white stuffed dogs,” and “best cream for undereye bags.” By morning, both children’s energy and appetites had returned. They chased each other around the kitchen while I, in my exhausted state, shuffled my feet and moaned like a zombie. Paul emailed his boss and stayed home to extend further help. This traumatic night was our first experience with simultaneous pukers. Usually, our kids catch things from each other which staggers their symptoms by a day or two so we can focus on one child at a time. I’m beyond grateful for Paul’s willingness to help even though he is much more sensitive to the smell of vomit than I am.
Though the event initially seemed like a cruel twist of fate, tonight I find myself relieved and grateful they were sick together. Not that I want to volunteer for another night like that anytime soon, but there were a few good things to come of the ordeal. Today I did not have to quarantine one child in a futile attempt to protect the other from germs. Tonight I can sleep easy knowing both children are better instead of waiting for another kid to exhibit symptoms, and the exhaustion of one sleepless night will not be drug out to two. It was like ripping off a band-aid instead of tearing it off slowly. A vomit-soaked, fevery band-aid.