My baby is sick.
Two days ago I had a very bad stomach flu and today my husband is stuck in bed and my baby daughter can’t keep any of her formula down. She woke me up at three o’clock this morning and she’s thrown up four times since then. I’ve spoken to two nurses and one pharmacist about her symptoms, keeping her hydrated and when I really need to start worrying. I’m watching her every minute, forcing pedialyte into her and trying to trick her stomach by giving her less formula more often, waiting for the time when it doesn’t come back up.
This is the thing I dreaded in motherhood. I can’t handle vomit, drool disgusts me, and having to clean up poop multiple times a day? There was no way I was going to be able to do it day in and day out.
But I can. In fact, I don’t even blink.
This morning she threw up all over me and my only thought was to get her upright so she was getting in on me instead of on herself, and the panic that she still wasn’t getting any food. I’m afraid of diarrhea, but only because it would mean more risk of dehydration.
Absolutely none of the things I thought would be the worst of being a mom bother me. Her crying doesn’t register, her smells only mean she needs something – either a bath or a change. Being with her every minute is not nearly as bad as being away from her for too long.
Almost two years ago I worked two of the hardest months of my life. I was working 12 and 14 hour days, getting to work at 5 am and doing nothing but sleep when I was home, drinking way too much coffee, eating way too many carbs and I was way too stressed all the time. During that time, my boss noted that she has a much easier time with the sleep deprivation because she had a baby at home, she was used to it. I didn’t think it was possible to get used to it, and some days it hits harder than others, but I understand what she means now. You get through days because you have to, you get out of bed because you have to, you wake up when she wakes up, you do the dishes when she’s asleep, you eat and type with one hand while holding the baby with the other.
I am also amazed at home patient I can be now. I’ve never been a patient person, my mother will tell you stories of just how impatient I can be and how frustrated I can get. There is nothing more frustrating that a baby that starts crying because she wants a bottle and then she won’t take a bottle because she’s crying too hard. But I just sit there, bottle in hand, waiting for her to calm down for one second with her mouth open, and try and try again to show her that I’ve got what she wants. I’ve learned that sometimes she just needs to be cuddled and rocked until she falls asleep and there’s just no other way. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to feed her one ounce every half an hour instead of four ounces every two hours so she won’t throw it all up and that instead of being frustrated by how much time and effort it takes and that nothing else will get done today, you celebrate when she hits the hour mark without having thrown anything up.