Peeper has been sleeping poorly lately—thank you, tooth #4 that is so close to popping through—so when she started to cry the other night 45 minutes after I put her to bed, I figured her gums were just making her fussy.
She cried for a bit, was quiet, and then started crying again. I continued reading my book but brought the monitor closer.
Then I heard the sound.
I rushed into the nursery and sure enough, there was my beautiful daughter, covered in vomit. The poor dear was crying the way she does when we turn on the vacuum cleaner or blender—she was terrified.
I was scared, too.
I did my best to soothe her while washing off puke and bits of undigested dinner. I sang and held her while she rested in between bouts of being sick. And when she was sick, I let her retch on me and then switched out the towel.
We were reclining like that, her lying on my chest, when Eric got home from his night class. Peeper heard the door close and raised her head. When she saw her papa, she smiled.
That is our child.
She continued to grin at Eric while we exchanged worried whispers. Then I rocked her to sleep while he ran to the store to buy Pedialite. I held her until I was confident she didn’t need to throw up again, at least for the time being.
I slept on the floor in the nursery that night. Eric’s reasoning that we could hear everything from our bedroom next door and see via the monitor wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to be close to her, so I lay down next to her crib.
Each time she woke—just wanting milk and a little comfort but not being sick, thank goodness—I figured I’d head to my own bed after putting her down. But I didn’t, of course. I curled back up alongside her crib.
My presence in the nursery was more for my peace of mind than necessity or safety. It wasn’t logical. But that’s ok; some would say bringing a child into the world is unreasonable to begin with, so we might as well run with it.
And so we ticked off another parenting milestone: watching our baby be sick sick sick. We skated by with less drama than was possible. We didn’t end up in the ER, like some families I know. Eric and I are still healthy. And Peeper was back to her usual self two days later.
I won’t soon forget the terrible ache I felt when I just wanted to make everything better for my little girl, though. I wanted to transfer all her pain and fear onto myself. I felt helpless when my tools were limited to rocking and singing.
Sometimes the only thing to do is to love your child, hug her through the pain and let her throw up all over you.