Clark got sick. Seriously seriously ill. Monday when he woke up from his nap he cried at first but then sounded through the monitor like he was playing in his crib, so I let him. Now and then he'd cry for a moment and then go back to awake baby sounds and after about 30 minutes I went to get him. What I found was that he'd thrown up everywhere (really--everywhere) and I suppose that's what he'd been playing in. Frances was hollering in her own crib by this time so I started the bath and ran in to tell her Clark was sick and she was just going to have to hang out and wait for a while. I stripped Clark and put him in the bath, piled up his clothes and sheet and blanket and stuffed bear for the wash, got Frances out of her bed and parked her on the sofa in front of the TV, and charged back upstairs to be sure Clark was not drowning in the tub. I was certain he'd throw up again as soon as I had him dressed so I kept him in the tub a long time and kept warming the water for him.
That was around 3. The rest of the afternoon he didn't want to be put down so I carried him in the sling while I got Frances her dinner and straightened up around the house. He snuggled down against me with his thumb in his mouth and it really was a sort of salve for the mourning I'd been doing. Oh, sweet baby needing his mama. He was still throwing up every once in a while and I'd just go to the sink and lean him over--because he was up against me I could feel his stomach heave and tell it was coming.
The next morning I gave him a tiny bit of applesauce with rice cereal and he kept that down, then he went to sleep. He was sleeping so hard but near noon it was time for me to get Frances from school so I woke him. I tried to give him a little more applesauce but he turned away, though he drank some watered down juice. I was literally getting him in his jacket to walk out the door when he threw up all over me. It was 10 minutes before I was supposed to pick up F and I was momentarily struck immobile. What to do? I thought of calling a neighbor but I couldn't ask someone to come watch a vomiting baby while I ran to school. I called my friend whose daughter is in Frances' class. I had to call the school to authorize her to bring Frances home, then she had to come get the carseat and rush over to the school. These people charge you if you're late.
Anyway, all that is more information than you want. By that afternoon Clark had a fever of 103 and all we did was sit in the rocker. When he'd get very fussy I'd put on Baby Einstein (which is oh so soothing) and we'd rock. When Frances woke from her nap she pulled her little rocker up next to mine and rocked her baby too while we all watched TV. I was thrown up on a couple more times and did more loads of laundry and of course having a sick baby is the pits, but it also was wonderful. I carried him and held him and rocked him and he snuggled. Frances is amazingly patient about Clark--if I tell her "I can't now, honey, I have to take care of Clark," she does not protest. She's always been that way about him.
Then Tuesday night I was up half the night experiencing the joy first hand. Of course Mitch had a presentation to the faculty at noon on Wednesday plus his class from 6-9 so couldn't stay home to help. Usually I have a sitter here Wednesday evenings but I called her to cancel like a decent human being. It was a rough day: Clark's fever still above 101, my upset stomach and fever and general achy-ness (plus my period, let's not forget), everyone in their pjs all day, but Frances was oddly cooperative and entertained herself pretty well. There was also a lot of TV. She'd say "sure!" when I asked her to bring me the remote or the thermometer. At one point I was dozing in the tent (which is beside the play kitchen in the dining room, filled with blankets and pillows and stuffed animals) and now and then felt a spoon on my lips as she fed me something she'd cooked on her little stove.
Today is Thursday and I'm aware this is much more detail than anyone needs about my life but somehow I'm compelled to write it all. It was a full experience for me, a going into a different kind of space for awhile, a little vacation from my regular life. It was time just sitting with my children, no chores (except for several loads of laundry at the outset), no errands, no one around but us. Us alone, together, in full physical contact. There was an unexpected joy in it all, though yesterday was really hard.
I don't think Clark even touched the ground until this morning. He still hasn't walked--doesn't have the energy--and crawls slowly when he wants to go somewhere. Mostly he just sits and watches with his tired eyes. I'm still using tylenol to keep his fever down, but he'll get his energy back soon and be a toddler again. I think I'll be more okay with it now.