Staying Calm In The Midst of Throw Up

Two days last week felt trickier than most; a reminder about staying calm

Good health is something I take for granted, until one of my kids is sick. Then I quickly remember that health is a blessing. Last Thursday I took Keener to the doctor for a follow up asthma appointment and in the doctor’s office, he said, “I don’t feel well.”  The doctor asked me if he said that often and I replied, Only when he doesn’t feel well. He is pretty in tune with his body. We both asked him if he had to “go to the bathroom” and the doctor asked him if he could touch the ceiling. Naturally, he tried jumping and for the rest of the appointment appeared to be his normal, happy, healthy self.

But 20 minutes later I realized he wasn’t lying back at the doctor’s. The second we entered his school, he threw up right in the foyer. A teacher was standing there and tried to make the situation better. “It’s hot out there today! I bet he just got a little over heated.” Maybe. Or he just told me 20 minutes ago that he wasn’t feeling well and he wasn’t kidding! I offered to clean up the carpet but she expressed her desire to have us promptly leave the school.

As we walked to the car, I remained calm and said, Ok bud. Everyone throws up sometimes. It’s no big deal. Let’s get back in the car and head home and take a little time to rest.

After 5 minutes of driving towards our house, I heard him in the back seat vomiting all over himself and his car seat. “I need some paper towels,” I heard Keener say between hurls. I am 100% certain my husband would have thrown out the car seat had this happened on his watch.

I continued to stay as calm as I possibly could. You are so brave. Get all of that throw up out. No big deal that we are in the car. You are safe. You are brave. Mama is right here. Throughout my years as a teacher and now parent, I have learned of the power of staying calm. While not always easy, especially when my thoughts are anything but, I try to make my words and body language calm and relaxed in those situations when it’s needed the most.

Being a teacher certainly gave me good training in this department. In the unfortunate world we live in now, I have had 25 first graders under my watch hiding in the coat closet practicing “lockdown” drills, and they are counting on me to be calm, even when the principal shakes the door handle pretending to be an intruder. I feel as teachers and as parents, it is our job to give off the — You’re safe. I’m here. Everything is alright — vibe even when we are not confident that it’s true.

In my head while Keener was puking in the back seat, I’m thinking What the heck is my next move? Do I pull the car over on the side of the road? Do I get him out? He is covered in throw up, as is his car seat, so getting him out won’t solve anything as he will have to get back into that seat. I really should have more supplies in my car. I’m going to throw up myself from this smell…

We opened the windows and kept driving another 5 minutes to our house. I held onto his foot and followed his lead on how much he wanted to discuss what had just happened. Do you want your window all the way down or just part way down? Fresh air is always good when your belly isn’t feeling well.

Keener continued throwing up until he went to bed but thankfully slept through the night. He was most upset that I wouldn’t let him take his iron supplement (a dark, thick liquid medicine that apparently tastes delicious).

The Next Day

They say 24 hours is the “rule” for throw up so I was counting down the hours until we were “in the clear.” It turns out 24 hours is not a perfect science. At 24 hours and 30 minutes since his last throw up, it happened again. He was fine all day and then started complaining that his stomach hurt after the bath. I could tell he was off but he said he wasn’t going to throw up again.

We followed our typical nightly routine and as he leaned over to kiss Grace goodnight in her room, he vomited ALL over her. I quickly whisked her away and he continued to throw up all over himself and the reading chair. (Hmm… what’s my next move? Come on calm super power, don’t fail me now!) Grace was 5 seconds away from being put to bed. Now she was covered in Keener’s throw up.

OK Keener, I am going to bring Grace into the hallway and get her changed so I can put her down. You stay right there. Mama is right here. You are safe. Your tummy isn’t feeling well, bud, and that’s OK. It happens to everyone. I can see you are upset and may be feeling scared. I love you bud. I will be right there.

I was able to get Grace’s sleep sack off before the throw up had seeped into her pajamas. Now in a clean sleep sack, I immediately put her in her crib. As much as I wanted to tend to him right away, I also knew I would be able to do a much better job if Gracie girl was out of the picture. But I also couldn’t let her go to sleep in a room that had copious amount of throw up in it. So I carried Keener to the hallway and then carried the now dirty chair cushions into the hallway after him.

As if I needed one more thing to deal with in that moment, our dog Hank delighted in this opportunity for an extra meal… While I could have lost my absolute mind at this point, instead I calmly told Keener I’m going to put Hank in my room, I will be right back. Bless his sweet heart, standing there covered in throw up, sobbing, waiting for me. OK bud, it’s all about you now. We are going to get you in the bath and mama is going to do everything she possibly can to make you feel better. Being sick is not fun! I wish I could take this from you. I always remember my mom telling me that when I was sick. Before having kids, I didn’t exactly believe her that she would rather be throwing up than me, but after having kids, I knew she meant it 100%.

After a second bath, some books, and brushed teeth, he was back to his happy, normal self. “We need to do my iron!” Oh bud. We aren’t going to do that tonight. “But I’m feeling good! I’m not sick!” First, that iron must taste really good. Second, there was zero chance I was going to give it to him. You’re right, we usually do your iron every night. But remember this morning, we did it instead of last night? We are going to do that again tomorrow morning. That’s the plan.

Then he went to sleep and I couldn’t wait to get in the shower. Except literally standing between me and the shower was the sleep sack, his pajamas, and the chair cushions. I had flashbacks to college while washing everything out. Did people really, truly “puke and rally?” The thought of it alone is nauseating.

Being a parent is the greatest and hardest job in the world. The snuggles, hysterical things kids say, the kisses and the “I love you’s” can’t be beat. The throw up, exhaustion, moments of chaos, and seeing your little one in pain are brutal. But the optimist in me is thankful for these “throw up moments” to remind me that the snuggles and healthy days should definitely not be taken for granted.

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