A couple of days ago Elder, Husband and I all came down with a wildfire gastro bug. Younger was fine, thankfully, having gone through it two days earlier. So rather than joining us in Unwanted Bodily Emission Hell, she was single-babyedly championing the much-overlooked hours of 2am, 3am and 4am as being excellent times to party.
Anyway, so there I am, in the throes of it, trying to persuade a happy awake baby to go back to sleep at 2am, then putting her back into her cot awake and furious (how DARE we not minister to her every poorly-articulated need?) so I can lift my poor three year old out of a vomit-soaked bed. Then leaving her on the floor hugging a bucket so I can rush to the bathroom myself. Come back to Elder, who is now lying on her carpet half-asleep, changing the bedclothes, soothing her before going back to the younger who is now Really Quite Cross About This Situation Thank You and rocking her down to sleep. Because obviously when one is extremely nauseated, a gentle rocking motion is exactly what’s needed. Good times.
But it was fine. We all got through the night in relatively good humour, nobody got furious or panicky or mean, we all just triaged and managed. It was so bad it became ludicrous; no time or space for recriminations or resentment, just – whoever is not currently attached to a receptacle has to deal with the next crisis.
And both kids felt safe and cared for, and everyone survived the night. And then we took Younger to daycare the next day and the three of us napped a lot.
And I think back to when Elder was a newborn, in those first few days which are really easy because they sleep all the time anyway (in the day…). I would obsessively read baby books, as if I’d found myself outside the door of an examination hall having not studied, and how panicked I was that I was doing everything wrong. And especially, I remember reading a chapter about baby illnesses, and how to cope with colds. It was written without dramatics, just a matter-of-fact rundown of how to help a baby with a cold, but I felt surges of panic. It seemed, suddenly, so unreasonable that one day she would get a cold and how would I possibly cope with that on top of the Awesome And Almost Impossible Responsibility Of Keeping Her Alive.
And then she did, and it was fine. And I remember when I got pregnant with Younger and my mind kept reeling at the sheer logistics of dealing with two. How would I possibly manage grocery shopping? What if I took them to the park and Elder needed a wee when I was halfway through breastfeeding Younger? WHAT IF WE ALL DIED OF INCONVENIENCE EVERY DAY?
But this is part of parenting; learning that whatever comes up, can be dealt with, and the bits that suck are temporary and love, pretty much, will get you through. And in a funny sort of way, even a whole-family bout of gastroenteritis can be a good thing. Because now there’s a lot of things that won’t scare me.