The phrase which makes your heart sink. This is sometimes said shortly before a fountain of vomit slaps down on your sheepskin rug (but never the mop-able kitchen floor). This is sometimes said while coughing a bit and rubbing snot into your shoulder. This is usually said in a small pitiful voice. And this is pretty much guaranteed to be followed by a really shit night involving much bed hopping (but not the Jeremy Kyle kind) some horizontal positioning in Mummy and Daddy’s bed and some criminal sleep thievery.
We have had more than our fair share of poorly sick – although I am enormously grateful to declare that none of it has been too serious. Its mainly been down to the Diva. Her enormously oversized tonsils and adenoids gave her about 9 months of sleep apnoea (she used to stop breathing a number of times a night, most nights – but worse when she had a cold). This is a fairly frightening thing to be told, I was always led to believe that breathing was pretty important. She’s an excellent breather in the day. Does it a number of times a minute without any issues, but not quite so reliable at night. Once it was diagnosed, those pesky tonsils and adenoids were pretty quickly removed (and some sneaky grommets inserted in her ears as a Brucie-bonus).
Oversized tonsils are a real delight. As well as the not breathing, she also snored like an 18 stone man after 10 pints of Stella. Another unexpected bonus was that if she coughed up a bit of phlegm, she would actually gag on her own tonsils (they met in the middle and she had less than 25% of her airway available for the important task of breathing) and throw up. So if she had a cold, it often made her vomit. In bed. Sometimes our bed. Yum. Between us, me and Mr Mess Stress and Fancy Dress had a whole routine going for the vomit clean up. We knew our roles, we were a well oiled machine. Much more efficient than the school caretaker and his bucket of sand (was that just my school????) We would divide and conquer. I would clean the bed, Daddy would clean the Diva. It’s all a winner till Daddy gets vomited on and then the cleaner to cleanee ratio is all wrong.
And then there’s the worry. You know its just a bug. You know they are going to be fine. But you’re worried, so you abandon all the normal nocturnal rules and regulations. They’re in your bed kicking you in your already rather weak and compromised bladder. They’re snoring in your ear. And you lie there awake. Conflicting thoughts about moving them back in to their own bed are running through your mind. You’re worried they might die. At 9am you will be well aware of how irrational this is, but its 3am and you’ve had 2 hours sleep and that strange noise they are making when they sleep could surely be something more serious. So you must stay with them. But they’re stopping you from sleeping, so you really want to move them. You lie there feeling a confusing mix of love, fear and resentment.
For those 9 months, we had about 3-4 hours sleep a night and we argued. A lot. We didn’t socialise, we couldn’t be arsed. We were shit company anyway. And when we did try to go out, we were too frightened to get drunk or have fun, sometimes we had to leave suddenly and leave early. Some of our friends lost interest. Christ, I think I lost interest in us as well at one point.
When a friend tells me that one of their kids is ill (and by this I clearly mean a tummy bug ill, or a bit of a cold ill) harsh as I am, I tend to forget about the child – they’ll be fine. Lets face it, they are likely to have a sensible 3 hour nap the next day, powering up so they can face the afternoon. I find myself doing the tilted-head-sympathetic look at their mum, I find myself asking “and how are you? have you had some caffeine? Have you had a shower? I don’t point out the sticky Calpol mark on their left arm. I try not to draw attention to the fact that they are sporting a faint odour of sick and there’s a lump of something that looks like carrot in their un-brushed locks. I give them a hug and wish them good luck tonight. We both know they’ll need it.