10 Things That Keep You Awake When Your Child is Sick in the Night

I cannot quite believe I have decided to write a blog post about vomit. Previously, back when I was someone else (i.e. before I was a mother), I had a phobia of sick. On the occasion when a child I was teaching was sick in one of my lessons, I reacted no better than the rest of the hysterical room full of twelve year olds. Even in the early days of motherhood, I coped with the poo and wee but the idea that one day I would have to clear up sick, or even worse, be sicked on, made me go cold with horror. I didn’t think I would be able to do it. But when the day did eventually dawn earlier this year, I coped. Of course I did. We never know what we are capable of until we have children.

So here it is: a few hundred words on the subject of sick…

On Tuesday night, I was dramatically woken from my slumber by the terrifying noise of my Noah making choking, gagging sounds in his sleep. We are in England this week so are sleeping in the same room. Yes, he was being sick. I lifted him from the bed and took him to the bathroom. Once he was confident he was not going to be sick again, we had to go on a hunt for clean sheets for his bed. We went into my sister’s room and started hunting through clear plastic boxes of sheets but couldn’t find any to fit the toddler bed. (Don’t worry, my sister wasn’t in there: she has her own house now but the room still belongs to her just like my room still belongs to me).

I then attempted to wake my mother in order to ascertain where the elusive sheets are currently kept. But despite her claims of being a very light sleeper, she could not be roused. I must admit, I only stood by the side of her bed whispering her name. I was fearful that if I woke her too forcefully, the shock of opening her eyes to see me and my Noah standing at the edge of the bed, bathed in moonlight, would be enough to give her a heart attack.

So I put him in my bed. He was sick again. We went back into my sister’s room and found some old sheets for my bed. Whilst I was changing the bed, bedroom lights blazing, my Mum finally appeared.  Noah gleefully danced around the room telling her he’d been sick as if he’d just won a medal. Once we were settled, sheets changed, mother soundo once again, he was sick a third time. Luckily, I’d put a towel under us and it only went on that.

Noah went back to sleep and didn’t wake up until seven (a small miracle). But I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep at all. Here are ten things that were going through my mind on a loop:

  1. Is he okay? It is just a tummy bug, isn’t it? Or is it something he has eaten? Is it something I gave him? Could it be something more serious? What did Dr. Google tell me last time he was sick? Could it be meningitis? Is he breathing? Is he asleep or unconscious and how is it possible to tell?
  2. Is he going to be sick again? What if I fall asleep and he is sick and he chokes and I don’t wake up?
  3. If he is sick again (i.e. for the forth time), how am I going to change the sheets when the spare set have already been used tonight for both his bed and my bed? Does he have a third pair of clean pyjamas?
  4. I feel guilty. I lost patience with him earlier when he wouldn’t brush his teeth and shouted at him. I asked him, for the love of God, when was he ever going to do what he was told? I should be more patient. But how? I don’t mean to snap. What was it Supernanny said in her book (in the half I read)? Stand back and observe the situation before reacting. Should I give Supernanny another chance and read the other half? Do I need her to come round and sort me out? Or the Three Day Nanny? Should I get in touch with Channel 4 and offer myself up for the next series? Why does he never do what he is told?
  5. Why can I still smell sick when we are both wearing clean pyjamas and the sheets are all clean and all the sicky stuff is in the bathroom, not the bedroom?
  6. Should I have stopped him drinking lots of water after he was sick for the third time and it was all just water that came up? I gave him one sip and that’s it. Is he going to be dehydrated? What are the symptoms of dehydration? What did Dr. Google tell me last time he was sick?
  7. Will he be well enough to go and see The Gruffalo show in London on Friday?
  8. Should I move him over and risk waking him up? It’s difficult to get to sleep hovering on the edge of the bed with a small child glued to your side as if you have an extra hip and leg.
  9. Am I going to get sick? When am I going to get sick. Am I going to be able to go and see The Gruffalo?
  10. How long will it take us as a family to recover from letting him sleep with me tonight? How many night-time hours will he spend attempting to get in our bed for the rest of the week? Or will it take longer than a week? Will he ever sleep through the night again?

Do you know what I wasn’t worried about? Noah being sick on me. It never entered my head to be worried about that. Until earlier this year when I caught Noah’s tummy bug, I hadn’t been sick for twenty-three years. I lasted three years at university without having been sick through alcohol*. Motherhood has changed me. It has made me braver.

*However, I have sat down on the toilet in a club and not been able to get up. I have fallen over a few times. I have been escorted out of a night club. I have suffered alcohol induced memory loss. I have accosted DJs who weren’t playing enough cheesey music. I have been put to bed at six p.m….I could go on. My point is, I’m just not a sick drunk: I’m an annoying one. This doesn’t really have anything to do with the topic of this post, but I thought I should elaborate to avoid confusion and give people the wrong idea about me.

Get well soon, my Noah.

P.S. Sorry for the gross topic of this post.

Sleeping it off the next day. At 4pm. No sleep for Noah tonight, then. Or for me.
Sleeping it off the next day. At 4pm. No sleep for Noah tonight, then. Or for me.
Stopping at two
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The Adventure of the Day Trips: Dinosaurs and Dürnstein

This weekend we hired a car and got out and about a bit in Austria. And it was good. It was a good weekend. But since becoming parents, a good weekend inevitably involves a lot of hard work, a little bit of bickering and leaves us absolutely knackered for the week ahead. C’est la vie.

A couple of weeks ago, I went into the local shopping centre and was confronted by four gigantic, green, scaly feet with claw-like toenails. I tilted my head back, craned my neck around and discovered a dinosaur reaching up the entire three floors of the building. But what is this? I wondered excitedly. Is something dinosaur-themed coming to our very doorstep?! Something new to entertain Noah with?! Hooray! I noticed some information on a placard near the dinosaur. It was an advert for something called Dino Live. I snapped a picture of the info on my mobile and hurried home to put it all into Google Translate. I went to the website and discovered it was a dinosaur exhibition, but, alas, it was about 45 minutes outside of Vienna. So when we decided to hire a car for a weekend of excursions, I naturally thought about going to the dinosaurs.

So on Saturday morning, I crammed Noah’s lunch bag full of snacks and Noah duly packed himself some toys in his Postman Pat rucksack and a felt watering can (which is actually mine and is supposed to have Peter Rabbit in it…). I packed Noah the following snacks: a pot of grapes, carrot sticks, a cheese and pickle sandwich, raisins, dried apple chips, a kipferl (sweet, horn-shaped bun), a packet of 3 plain biscuits, a yogurt, a babybell, a peach, a Humzinger, a cereal bar and some cheesy breadsticks. Noah packed everything on the surface of the table which his train set is on apart from the track (several trains, cars, a runway, roadsigns, a crane, a helicopter, a boat…) and odd bits of Playmobil which were so tiny I will probably never be able to find them again. All this would come in very handy at the dinosaur exhibition.

Noah has recently become a bit (okay, a lot) whingey. I very much hope it is a phase because it absolutely does my head in. He started on the way there. Having eaten his grapes, raisins and kipferl within the first ten minutes of the journey, he then wanted one of the choc chip buns that my husband was eating in the front seat. I didn’t have one for him. He couldn’t possibly be hungry. The whinge started up, loud and relentless. “I’m switching my ears off! I don’t listen to whinging!” I declared and pressed an imaginary button on each ear. Noah then took offense to the music on the radio station and started up with, “I don’t like that song. Turn it off. I want another song.” Repeat times 100. Unfortunately, despite having turned my ears off, I could still hear him.

I thought the dinosaur exhibition would be quite good. I surmised this for the following reasons:

  1. The dinosaur I saw in the shopping centre was impressive and, presumably, expensive. Impressive and expensive advertising usually means an impressive and expensive event. Right?
  2. The Arena Nova (where the exhibition is set up) looked gigantic on the website.
  3. The website showed pictures of children inside dinosaur eggs so I imagined it was going to be quite interactive.

When we pulled up to the Arena Nova, we were directed to a small building alongside it which looked like a cheap hotel… nay, it was a cheap hotel, designed by someone who had a liking for corrugated iron. It was in the middle of what looked like an abandoned industrial estate. The exhibition was okay. It consisted of various large models of dinosaurs. It was a bit like a dinosaur Madam Tussauds, but the dinosaurs weren’t made of wax. Not like Madam Tussauds then. There was also a room playing a short film about dinosaurs, some rows of tables where you could colour in a dinosaur (I did) and a tightly packed row of four dinosaur rides (the type you get outside a shop). We paid 5 euros to get our picture taken on a dinosaur but there were no dinosaur eggs for Noah to climb in and create mischief. Within 20 minutes we were done, but we decided to go around another time and eek an hour out in there. Basically, it was okay. Noah enjoyed it well enough. But it was underwhelming.

Noah and the dinosaurs. He wasn't really glowing, I just have no idea how to use the settings on my camera.
Noah and the dinosaurs. He wasn’t really glowing, I just have no idea how to use the settings on my camera.

On Sunday, we drove to Krems, a little town on the Danube, about an hour outside Vienna. From there, we got a boat along the Danube to a picturesque little town called Dürnstein. On the way, my husband showed me a picture of some ruins of an old castle on the hill at the top of the town and informed me there was a pathway leading up to it from the centre. I agreed to have a look, thinking Noah would be interested in looking around an old castle. It was also the castle where Richard the Lionheart was kept prisoner. Unfortunately, as soon as we got off the boat, Noah decided he wanted to go home. He refused to walk or scoot and further. “We’re going to an old castle to look for a dragon,” I told him. He was suddenly much more willing to move.

We walked up the cobbled streets of the town, past various shops selling tacky souvenirs, and eventually happened across the pathway to the top. Except, I really wouldn’t call it a pathway, it was more like one long, uneven, ancient, broken set of continuous stairs. Some of the steps came up to my knee. Noah was having none of these stairs so my husband put him on his shoulders. He also had a rucksack on his back and carried Noah’s scooter. What possessed us to bring the scooter? I have no idea.

When I was 6 months pregnant with Noah, I was diagnosed with a problem with my pelvis called SPD which affects 1% of pregnant women. It was uncomfortable when I walked. I had a couple of sessions with a physio and was assured it would go away once Noah was born. It didn’t. It was far, far worse. The birth also resulted in a small tear in my hip. Noah was 7 months old before I could walk normally, without feeling any pain at all. Three years later, it hardly ever bothers me apart from when I (a) attempt to go for a run (b) do any kind of high impact/high resistance exercise or (c) as I discovered yesterday, climb up an ancient set of stairs for 20 minutes in order to see some old ruins.

Half way up, my left hip had stiffened and that leg decided it wasn’t going to support this adventure up the stairs any more. The top of both legs ached the whole way around my groin (sorry, I hate that word but I put it into the thesaurus and nothing else came up!). I stopped for a little rest on a boulder and rooted around in my bag for my drink. It wasn’t there. I must also mention that it was 30 degrees. The following conversation ensued:

Me: (to husband) Where’s my drink?

Husband: I don’t know.

Me: What do you mean you don’t know? I asked you to put it in my bag.

Husband: You didn’t.

Me: I did! When we were on the boat, I put it in your hand and asked you to put it in my bag which was around your side of the table. You took it and said okay.

Husband: I didn’t hear you!

Me: Well, that’s just typical. What did you do with it?

Husband: I poured it into my water bottle. If you want a drink, have some of mine.

Me: (enraged) I will not! When have you ever known me to drink out of anyone’s water bottle?!

Husband: If you really need a drink, there’s one here. Don’t cause an argument over a bottle of water.

Me: I’m not causing an argument. You are!

Husband: That’s it! Let’s go home! Let’s go and get on the next boat! The day is ruined!

Noah: (voice of calm and reason) No, Daddy. Mummy hasn’t ruined it. We can’t go home, we still haven’t found the dragon! Mummy, have some of Daddy’s drink!

Three years ago, I would have abandoned the quest to get to the ruins and stormed back down the stairs. My husband would have stormed down after me. We would then have spent the next twenty minutes in a stormy silence until I had some wine and/or chocolate and my husband had some food. Then we would have made up. But it was not three years ago, and Noah would have been upset if I stormed off. The boy wanted to see the dragon so I carried on up to the top, walking like a crab (i.e. sideways) with my right leg leading. By the time we eventually got there, Noah’s own mood wasn’t too hot either. In his eagerness to refuse to do anything he was told, he forgot about the dragon entirely, which is fortunate because I’m not sure what story I would have had to concoct in order to explain why the dragon wasn’t there.

Naturally, when we got to the car at 4pm, Noah was knackered and promptly fell asleep. Naturally, the knock on effect of this was that he went to sleep an hour and a half later that night. By the time I was eventually able to extract myself from his toddler bed, my whole body had ceased up.

But, still, it was a good weekend, my Noah.

Being strangled on the boat (just before my bottle of water bit the dust)
Being strangled on the boat (just before my bottle of water bit the dust)


10 Not Toy Things to Keep Toddlers/Threenagers Amused for Hours

Here is a list of non-toy things that can keep toddlers or threenagers amused for hours… okay, for at least 10 minutes.

  1. The brown paper stuff that comes in Amazon parcels (aka a pet snake, an obstacle course)

Phone Pics 8.4 0902. A dustpan and brush. Noahella was only 13 months old here. We trained him well (I wish). When we bought him his own toy set from ELC, he lost interest: he used it as a weapon instead. The times I have been smashed over the head with the broom…

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3. CDs/books/DVDs. This creates an awful mess but at least he is old enough to put everything back now… in theory…

1052989_10100357523307834_1662826393_o4. The washing basket is very versatile. It can be used for hide and seek, toy storage and as a football goal.

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5. Pine cones, acorns, sticks, pebbles, twigs, leaves, stones, grit, muck etc are great for treasure hunts…or stuffing in shoes. Seriously, this is one of my favourites as it keeps Noah occupied for ages.

20150809_1113196. Sellotape is Noah’s tool of choice in our household. Sellotape is stuck to the mirror in the hall. Sellotape is stuck all over the cover and in between the pages of Noah’s Postman Pat book because one of the pages had fallen out. And every Buzz needs a bit of sellotape to secure his wings, right?

20150809_1155427. Our sofa never looks like a sofa: it is a bouncy castle or a fort or just a mess.

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8. The bath is a swimming pool, especially when it’s 39 degrees and you’re bored but it’s too hot to go outside. Or rather, the bath was once a swimming pool and never will be again seeing as the bath being a swimming pool meant the whole bathroom being a swimming pool too. Watch out for the water gun.

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9. The sprinkler in the park is a perfect non toy toy: it’s not in my house; if it gets broken it’s not my responsibility to fix it and there’s a nice shady spot where I can sit and watch him.

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10. The fan goes on. The fan goes off. The fan goes on. The fan goes off. The fan goes on. The fan breaks. It’s 39 degrees. Take a valium.

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You Baby Me Mummy

The Adventure of being a SAHM (Part 1)

For those of you who don’t know, a SAHM is a Stay At Home Mom. I write it the American way, because I am sure it was originally an American term. In December, I am moving back to England with Noah and I have been thinking about what I want to do on my return. As a result, I’ve been contemplating my life as a SAHM quite a lot. It’s something I never thought I would be. But here I am.

It’s not a glamorous job.

I have just looked in the mirror. I don’t do this as much as I used to. I no longer stand in front of the mirror when I brush my teeth: I make use of the time by sorting through the washing basket, wandering into my bedroom to get my clothes ready for the day or completing some other one-minute chore. I no longer give myself a full length once-over before I leave the house; it simply doesn’t enter my head. The only time I usually look in the mirror is when I brush my hair back into its daily ponytail, and even then, I only really look at my hair. When I do happen to look in the mirror for longer than five seconds, I am often horrified by how my eyebrows have overgrown without me noticing or by how dry my lips are or how my eyelashes seem to be growing thinner and fairer with age. Sometimes I pause there and try giving myself a smile. It’s horrific. My eyes have a slightly demonic glint – it’s the desperation in me to see the same reflection I would have four years ago. The skin is thinner around my eyes and puckers with the effort of the smile that quickly slides from my face. I don’t hate my appearance. I don’t fret about it. I am just slightly mystified by it.

So, I have just looked in the mirror (standing quite far away) and what I thought was this: have I become a Mumsy Mum? What does mumsy actually mean? I googled it and I found:

  • A woman who has an old fashioned appearance
  • A traditional mother
  • Dull
  • Unfashionable
  • Dowdy
  • Frumpy
  • Inelegant
  • An insult
  • Anti-feminist

Hmm. Poor Mumsy Mums.

Never have I felt more dowdy and inelegant as I did when I had just had Noah. My real clothes didn’t fit me. I was breastfeeding so clothes had to have easy access whilst at the same time being discreet. I made sure I had a shower every day but that was as far as my grooming progressed. I lived in leggings and baggy tops and UGG boots (so used they grew a shiny sheen). I put on just under two and a half stone when I was pregnant (quite normal I am told). After the birth, I immediately dropped a stone but the rest of it wasn’t going anywhere until Noah started weaning. I felt like a frump. I felt like the definition of Mumsy.

And yet…

I felt like I shouldn’t be a mum. Noah was always (a) distressed or (b) feeding. When guests came around, there were no snuggly newborn cuddles. Instead, I looked on desperately as he was passed around like a hot potato to see who could get him to stop crying. There was only one person and that was me, or more specifically, my boob. Health visitors and “experts” claimed babies should settle into routines of feeding every three hours. I was lucky to get an hour unattached. Despite this, he dropped from the 75th to the 9th percentile. I spent my whole existence, morning and night, feeding my child only for him to hover at the top of the 9th percentile for three months. I felt pressure to stop breastfeeding but I refused. I was failing him*. And then there was the love. The love I felt for my child. The desperation I felt to protect him. The load I carried in my mind of all the imaginings of bad things that could happen to him. I just didn’t know what to do with all that love. What had I been thinking, getting myself pregnant and having a child? I wasn’t cut out to be a mother!

*(Of course, I wasn’t really failing him. As he stayed in the 9th percentile, his weight gain was deemed “satisfactory”. We discovered at 3 months that his jaw was out of line. Once that was fixed, he piled on the pounds.)

So when I was looking my most mumsy, I was feeling my least mumsy. So much for that definition. I shall never use it again.

At my most mumsy...apart from the red boots
At my most mumsy…apart from the red boots

But, my appearance has changed since becoming a SAHM. I hardly ever wear make-up. I am always casually dressed. But what do I expect? I never go anywhere apart from to the shops, to the kindergarten and to the park. When I used to go to work, examining myself in front of the mirror was a vital part of the job. Did I have VPL? Who wants a thirteen year old girl sniggering at knicker lines on their backside? Not me. Was my top too tight? Was I showing any cleavage? Who wants a teenage boy distracted even more distracted from their lesson on Macbeth because he’s ogling their boobs? Most certainly not me!

And yet…

Do I buy less clothes since moving to Vienna and becoming a SAHM? Hell no. I buy clothes all the time to cheer myself up. Just ask my husband. He claims I will need to put some of my clothes in storage once we move back to our shoebox in Essex. Ha. What he doesn’t know is that half my clothes are already in storage – all of my work clothes – and they will be coming back out again when we move home. Clothes in storage? I don’t think so, dear.

When I move back to England, I am contemplating being more glamorous like my Mum and my sister. Maybe I will go for facials, get false eyelashes, get my nails done. I will certainly get my fringe cut more often and keep my roots blonde and shiny. Being a teacher isn’t a particularly glamorous job either, but I was always coordinated. In other words, I always had a necklace on to match my outfit. Now I don’t even know where half my necklaces are.

No, being a SAHM is not at all glamorous. But, it does have its blessings. The biggest blessing is time. Yes, a lot of my time involves the experience of tantrums, the hopeless emotional outpourings of a three year old boy. Here is a list of the tantrums I have lived through today:

5.15am – tantrum because I had taken the fan out of his room

8am – tantrum because I tried to force him to count the spots on the dice when we were playing his dinosaur board game and he couldn’t be bothered

1pm – tantrum because he wanted one of the chocolates my husband gave me for our anniversary last weekend and I had eaten the last one

4pm – tantrum because he didn’t want to wear his shoes to walk back from the park

5pm – tantrum because he wanted to use my iPad (I never even said he couldn’t!)

And when I say tantrum, I mean screaming at the top of his lungs. I mean having to avoid a few slaps and jabs. I mean him being inconsolable for at least 20 minutes. If I had gone to work today, I would have only experienced 40% of his tantrums. If I had gone to work today, I’d probably be feeling less fraught. I probably wouldn’t have just eaten four Oreos (I could have stopped at two). But I wouldn’t have been there on the way home from nursery when he decided to run through the sprinklers in the park. I wouldn’t have heard his squeals of glee and I wouldn’t have seen the delight on his face.

Undoubtedly, I have found being a SAHM hard. It has been that much harder because I am living in a foreign country. But it has been precious.

Who needs necklaces when I have my Noah? My darling boy who runs his hands over my face and says, “Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, you’re so beautiful!”

True happiness
True happiness
A great way to cool down in 33 degree heat
A great way to cool down in 33 degree heat

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