Going Viral

Just when I thought nothing could beat the synchronized public puking incident of 2014 (previous blog post), my life recently catapulted into a realm of vomit lore from which few recover to tell about.

Last week, the stomach flu hit my household. Those of you still in the thick of raising young children know the song and dance... late night bed stripping... Lysol spraying... carpet scrubbing... bowl fetching. One child after another... night after night. Every child in the household meets their fate. But moms? Moms are solid. They have to be available for the next befallen. Just like any week of stomach flu, I took all of the necessary precautions to avoid catching the virus myself by cycle’s end... not so much because I was preventing the misery, but rather, the inconvenience of it. No one has time to get sick. I don't. That meant last week was full of chronic hand washing and yellow gloving and disinfectant spraying over and over and over again. There was absolutely no possible way I was going to catch it. My fate was sealed with my meticulousness.

Ty had his turn on Sunday evening. It started with him vomiting all over his top bunk bed at midnight... a super convenient location with adequate splash zone which apparently includes the ladder to get up there. After a precariously thorough bed stripping and wall scrubbing balanced on one knee, I then transitioned Ty from the bathroom to the living room couch for the remaining sentence of his virus... perhaps then sparing his roommate brother from the same bug. In this circumstance, the living room becomes a massive quilt of disposable absorbent bed pads and towels patterned across the floor covering the couch and ottoman and really any potential surface an explosion could reach. Bowl in hand and water bottle by his side, the poor kid was up all Sunday night. The bug was relentless.

Fast forward to Tuesday night. Ty hadn’t vomited for 12 hours and Evy and Brady were minor victims. That left only Elly who had what seemed to be an even milder version of the offender in the days previous. Reprieve… finally a night of solid sleep for all of us.

While waiting on me to get the sheets reassembled on his bed, Ty fell asleep on top of Elly's bed. It was one of those hard sleeps that look delightfully cozy, yet cringy… arms and legs awkwardly bent backwards with a frozen core body temperature no matter. At that point, I decided out of shear laziness and exhaustion on my part that I'd just let him sleep where he was and I'd let Elly sleep in my bed instead. Problem solved. Mic drop.

Elly was in a super cooperative mood. Total joy… all smiles and giggles and hugs and kisses. If she was a dance, she was Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire ascending the stairs in Swing Time. She was the pillar of health and happiness. We cuddled and exchanged about 32 I love you’s and collapsed into a quick much needed sleep.

It was one in the morning when I was assaulted. There was no heaving. There was no whining or wincing or rolling about. There was no proclamation of a prefacing tummy ache. Instead, there was an abrupt explosion of vomit aimed directly at my sleeping head… my face… my hair… my pillow… my chest. I couldn’t spring out of bed quickly enough, and what did it matter? I was already marinated… hair dripping with the very substance I had yellow gloved against for days when trying to avoid skin to vomit contact. I ran to flick the bedroom light switch. Elly was sitting up at that point continuing to projectile vomit all over my king size bed, adequately covering every square inch of real estate. I’m not even so certain she was awake. I think it was just physics that brought her to an upright puking position. In the corner of the room on the floor was our shih poo cowering and shaking from complete horror and confusion, but unscathed from my same fate. Coward.

You know how on the airplane you are supposed to apply your own oxygen mask first before helping the next person? Done. I ran to the bathroom to wash the vomit off my face and I forcibly dunked my head under the sink faucet to rinse the vomit out of my hair before a more effective delousing could take place. It was a frantic scrub as if speed and intensity could erase history. The amount of antibacterial soap that I plunged in and out my nostrils could decontaminate whole hospitals. I’m not so certain there was actual vomit ingestion, but there was certainly soap ingestion and toothpaste that was squirted directly into my mouth like cheese whiz. Scrub and dunk. Scrub and dunk. I felt like I was being interrogated by a terrorist... but I was the terrorist. I had never been so violent with myself.

Elly was plunged into the bathtub. My bedding was stripped and rinsed in the sink and started in the washing machine. A new creative pattern of freshly cleaned towels and absorbent pads were spread across the living room. Wet Elly was repajama’d and placed to rest while I took a scolding hot shower that only lasted two minutes tops because the washing machine that was sanitizing my bedding stole my hot water and my quiet moment of asking God the big "why?" I was left cold and defeated and vexed by my parenting decision to sleep with the Mini-Muffin.

Fast forward come Wednesday morning… victim number 5.

An experience like this changes a person. My very soul has become skittish. There’s really no likelihood I’ll ever settle into another cuddle ever again. This is unfortunate for both my children and for my fiancé Joel Greisen. The thought of closing my eyes in any degree of proximity to another human being’s GI track is unnerving. This is the sort of thing that sends people into creepy hermit lifestyles when they sell everything and go live alone in the woods. I’ll never be the same. I may be the only person who feels the need to gown up before lying down now. I have the compulsion to sleep with a blanket covering my mouth and nose with my hair tucked in a nightcap. I have become self-doubting… never trusting my maternal intuition ever again. I have become a skeptic… distrusting smiles and giggles and seeing them now as only a mascaraed for a pending bile assault. I’m changed... and not for the better.

Share this story