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 Being a Mother with an Overactive Imagination

I am inclined to see drama and disaster in everyday things. It’s my vice. Never do my Mum and Dad board a plane home after a visit to Vienna, without me feeling a chill as I consider the fact the plane might fall from the sky. Highly unlikely. But possible. My husband often goes out for a run. Sometimes he is longer than he says he will be. A lot longer. Has he been hit by a car? Has he collapsed? No, he simply decided to do ten miles more than he had planned, but I am scouring the internet for reports of local accidents, or ready to call an ambulance (I don’t know the phone number for the police). My husband fondly calls me “a lunatic”; my mother fondly calls me “a pessimist”. I like to call it having an overactive imagination. Never is my disaster-inclined imagination rifer than when it comes to my Noah.

It’s very hot in Vienna at the moment and Noah has a slight fever. The top windows in his bedroom lift out. I wanted my husband to remove them in time for Noah’s bed, but my husband is AWOL at work. I got the stepladder out but I couldn’t reach them. So I have opened the bottom window, guaranteeing myself a sleepless night tonight even though it is far more likely Noah will suffer in the heat than fall out of the window. This leads me on to the first of the top 10 things I am constantly (irrationally) afraid of:

  1. Noah falling out of the window

We live on the third floor. By third floor, I actually mean fifth floor, because there are two weirdly named floors before the first floor (the names probably aren’t weird at all if you speak German). Anyway, we live a long way up from the ground. Our windows open straight out and if you should accidentally fall out of one, you are a gonner. When we first arrived, we insisted on a lock and chain being put on all of the windows. The locksmiths puzzled over this for weeks, as if the request were previously unheard of. My Mother (the very same one who calls me “a pessimist”) would wake up in the middle of the night worrying about Noah falling out of the window. She hounded me about this like crazy so I hounded my husband and he reluctantly hounded the locksmith and we ended up with windows that only open an inch unless you release the catch which is too stiff and fiddly for three year old thumbs to master. And yet. Tonight I will worry that Noah will get out of bed, drag a climbing device across his room to the window, open the curtains, lift up the blind, master the unmasterable window lock and throw himself out of the window. It’s never going to happen. But I am already imagining it.

  1. Noah throwing himself off the balcony

We have a very small balcony which overlooks the picturesque view of the rubbish bins at the back of the building. I only ever use it to hang washing over the clotheshorse. The balcony has apparently been child-proofed. That means it has had a Perspex sheet fitted around the iron bars, secured with plastic cable ties. In my mind, the balcony is anything but child-proof. Noah is forbidden from going out there but Noah is a child for who rules are made to be broken. We often have the balcony door slightly open because of the heat. I have been known to sit bolt upright in bed, just as my husband is falling asleep, and question whether the balcony door has been closed. Throwing the word “lunatic” over his shoulder, my husband throws the sheets off, stomps across the room and goes to shut the door. Why would Noah get out of bed in the middle of the night, find his way to the balcony, get himself a climbing device and throw himself off? He wouldn’t. But I cannot sleep if I know the balcony door is open.

  1. Running into the road

When we are out and about in Vienna, we always have Noah’s scooter in tow. He knows to stop at the roads and he does stop at the roads. But sometimes he lets go of the scooter and it rolls away. What if it rolled into the road and Noah, unthinking, dived after it and a car was coming? I worry about this every day.

  1. Coughing in the night

Sometimes Noah has a ten second coughing fit in the night and then there is silence. It always wakes me up. He has probably rolled over and gone back to sleep but I long to go in there and check he is okay. I am awake for quite some time, listening carefully for any noise. The reason I don’t go in there is because it is entirely possible that Noah is wide awake and me walking into his room will remind him of my existence resulting in him demanding the pleasure of my company until he falls back to sleep (which could take hours).

  1. Toys in the bed

Noah likes to take his toys to bed with him and he likes to put them in his mouth. He is not allowed to take his die-cast cars to bed with him in case the wheels come off in his mouth and choke him. But what if there is one in the bed and I haven’t noticed? The same applies to coins.

  1. Eating apples

Noah’s preferred way of eating an apple is whole with the core taken out and the skin removed. Sometimes he has an apple while I am getting ready in the mornings. I have been known to get out of the shower half way through washing my hair to check he hasn’t choked. I like to be in the room when he is eating that notoriously dangerous food, the apple.

  1. Sleeping well

Nothing freaks me out quite like Noah sleeping well. It’s so unexpected that I wonder if there is a catch. Is he okay? Has something happened to him? My emotional capacity lasts until seven-thirty and then I send my reluctant husband in to check on him which usually wakes him up.

  1. Something happening to him at kindergarten

Noah’s kindergarten is nothing like the nursery he went to in England. Noah comes home with scratches, bite marks, bruises, bloody knees and the kindergarten staff look confused on the odd occasion I ask them how he came across these injuries. In England, there would be an incident report giving a blow by blow account of the crime which I would have to sign as soon as I arrived to pick Noah up. When they go to the park, there is a member of staff at the front and one at the back. In between the children go marching two by two. That’s seventeen children between the ages of one and three, walking along a main road and crossing it to get to the park. Nothing ever happens to these kids; all the kindergartens here do it. But the UK nursery is my safety benchmark and the kindergarten here falls significantly short of it.

  1. Someone stalking and stealing Noah

For several reasons, I decided to put my Noah’s name and photographs on the World Wide Web and start up this blog. Some mummy bloggers (and there are thousands of us) don’t use their children’s names. Some don’t even use photographs. I made a conscious decision to use Noah’s name and to share facts about our lives. But what if someone starts reading my blog (a real bonafide lunatic rather than a novice one like me) and uses the details to stalk us and becomes obsessed with my Noah and takes him one day whilst I am daydreaming in the park?

  1. Adjusting badly when he starts school

In this instance, I am worried about Noah’s emotional safety rather than the physical. Noah isn’t starting school for another 14 months and already I am worrying about how he will adjust. He has been potty-trained for a year now and he still won’t go to the toilet at nursery. Will this pass by the time he starts school? Or will he hold his wee for seven hours instead of three? Since we moved to Vienna, Noah has not been looked after by anyone but me and my husband. If we get a babysitter for a night out, we cannot start getting ready until Noah is soundo: he somehow sniffs it out and refuses to go to sleep. Will he be one of those children who cry every day when their mother leaves him at the school gate? He cried for a month when he started kindergarten here. But everyone has to start school, don’t they? It’s an important life stage. Of course, what I am really worrying about here is my own emotional safety – my baby starting school? How will I cope?

All this isn’t that crazy is it? All mothers worry about their children, right? I’m not a lunatic or a pessimist really, am I?

Don’t talk to strangers, my Noah.

I wish Noah could wear armour every day
I wish Noah could wear armour every day