4 min read

I'm No Florence Nightingale

Last night my 3 year old son came down with a stomach virus. It's been going around around the preschool set, but hasn't hit our school yet. But I have noticed through Facebook that many of my friends and their children have been coming down with it.  My son was given a clean bill of health exactly 36 hours before he came down with the stomach bug.

My husband and I had gotten the kids to bed early in order to fully enjoy the much anticipated LOST Finale season premiere. I was feeling guilty that I was giving up 3 hours to sit in front of the television.  But my husband and I were looking forward to a little down time. It was the perfect setting: the snow was falling with the possibility of hubby having a day off, our favorite show was on, the kids were in bed, we had popcorn, we were together. It was perfect!

Then at 10pm, 2 hours into our LOST evening, my son begins screaming for my husband. Terrified screams. At first we thought night terror and I offered to run up and take care of him, thinking it would take only a few minutes.  Seven hours later, several buckets later, several wardrobe, and bed changes, it was evident that my son had a stomach virus.

My husband took over 3 year old duty and I was given 1 year old duty. My daughter woke up crying when my son started screaming.  I think I was given the better end of the deal.  My daughter and I finished watching the end of LOST while my husband changed sheets, soothed our son, found buckets, lysoled everything, washed sheets, and stayed up until 5am with our son who vomited for 7 hours every 20-30 minutes.

I am no Florence Nightingale. I can handle the basic sick symptoms, but vomiting is just not where I'm at.  I'm a total wimp when I'm sick. I hate being sick, I hate throwing up, I'm pathetic.  I want to be taken care of when I'm sick. In my mind, misery loves company.  My husband on the other hand wants to be left completely alone. He wants to be in bed by himself curled under the covers. He doesn't want anyone talking to him or taking care of him. He wants to do it alone and be miserable alone. He's pretty easy, but it's taken me years to realize to just leave him alone. For years I tried to take care of him the way I wanted to be taken care of when I was sick. Now I know he does better if left to his own devices.

So what did I do when I realized that my husband might have to go to work the next morning? I panicked. Utter panic! How am I going to take care of a child who is vomiting constantly and consistently while taking care of another younger child who will want to be in the midst of everything? I asked my husband to take a sick day and help me and he said, "I don't think so." WHAT?!? "I don't think so?" What does that mean?????  Let me also say that I came down with the stomach flu three times last year. This was with a newborn and a 2 year old.  Nothing like having to nurse a baby every 3-4 hours and take care of a two year old while you are sick out of both ends.  Every time I was sick I had asked my hubby to stay home and take care of the kids so that I could be sick and not worry about them. It just so happened that my sick days did not fall conveniently in his work schedule. He was either in meetings or giving a presentation. Not something he could easily leave and do later.  There was no one I felt comfortable enough to ask to take care of the kids and really who wants to come over and take over 2 possible carriers of the stomach flu?  So when hubby said, "No" I panicked. I curled up on the couch and tried to sleep while my son was sick while hubby took care of him. I get no points on the mommy scale. None at all. I left the caregiving to my husband. I hate vomit, and I was trying to figure out how I would handle the next morning.I was feeling abandoned and I was useless.

My husband took care of our son for 7 straight hours.  He washed multiple bedclothes, cleaned out multiple buckets of vomit, soothed our son, and jumped every time our son called from his bedroom.  My husband gets mega points for being an incredible dad.  Even though he said he would probably go into work, my husband stayed up until 5am taking care of our son.  He got up at 8:30, he's taking a shower, he's going to shovel the drive and then drive to the store to pick up gatorade, crackers, and soup.   He's even going to try to get in to work.

Our son seems to be on the upswing. He's had some water and he's kept it all in.  He's sitting and watching a Thomas video while the baby is playing with a stuffed animal in the living room.  When our son woke up he called to me and I sat with him in the bathroom for a measly 30 minutes making sure that the water he was drinking was going to stay inside.  I get maybe a half point.  I will finish washing and putting away the sheets, pajamas, and disinfecting tubs.

I think when my husband heard me ask for help he thought I was being overly dramatic. When I heard, "no" I felt abandoned and left on my own. We both jumped to the extreme: me not having enough confidence in myself that I could handle a very sick little boy while caring for my daughter, and my husband saying, "no" as a reflex because he thinks I'm being overdramatic.  We really need to listen to each other. I need to feel supported and encouraged, and I need not to jump to him as my failsafe.  So my first marathon of child vomiting is a FAIL. I'm very lucky to have a husband who jumps in and doesn't mind getting his hands dirty.  I just wish he didn't shut me down right away and said, "no," but I'm comforted in knowing that even though he said, "no" he still jumped in and took care of our son when he most needed it.