OH. MY. GOSH. We surived! We made it! And we lived to tell about it!
Consider yourself warned. This is not for the faint of heart.
That's right, friends. I'm talking about the stomach flu. It was almost exactly a week ago to the minute that our story begins. Ryan had band practice at church, and I had just put Noah down for bed. I was feeling especially happy, watching TV, playing online, and doing some Christmas shopping when out of the blue, Noah started SCREAMING. Once he's asleep, he almost never wakes up, and when he does, he definitely doesn't wake up crying. So when the shrieking began, I knew something wasn't right...
I ran upstairs, opened the door, and inhaled. OH NO! I turned on the lights and my eyes confirmed what my nose was trying to tell my brain. Noah had gotten sick EVERYWHERE. My heart broke in a million pieces, knowing how badly it had to have scared him. I unzipped him from his sleep sack. trying to ignore the slime on my hands. I carried him into the bathroom, which thankfully is right next to his bedroom, stripped him, and put him in the tub. I asked him, "Are you ok, buddy?" to which he replied in the sweetest little whisper, "Yeah." I then asked, "Do you feel better?" and he answered in the same little breath, "Yeah." There went my heart again...into pieces.
I gave him a good bath, wrapped him up in a towel, and took him back to his room. I stripped the crib and threw everything into the bathroom. I put new pajamas on Noah, used bleach wipes on the mattress, and got a new sheet on the crib. I sprayed Oust (the best disinfectant spray ever) everywhere. We talked for a bit, and because I really wasn't sure what or why he had gotten sick, I rocked him and put him back to bed. He was clearly tired! I hadn't put hardly one toe in the bathroom to clean up the sheets when I heard loud coughing through the wall. OH NO! I went back into his room and again found him covered, and his crib was a mess...AGAIN. I stripped Noah and his bedding...AGAIN...gave him another bath, and repeated steps 3-6. We went downstairs so that I could keep an eye on him for awhile. By this time I'm starting to feel nauseous, and then I wonder, "Was it the eggs we had for dinner?" I had just bought them the day before, but I have this wierdness about eggs anyway. If I let myself think about what they are for more than 2.5 seconds, I usually can't eat them for a year. It's totally happened before. I mean, let's face it. Eggs are gross. But, I do love them sometimes...especially when I don't think about what I'm eating. So at that point, I'm blaming the eggs.
If there is one thing my mom taught me about the stomach flu, it's this - you always keep a bucket close by! She always made us use these yellow plastic butter dishes when we were sick. I have these horrible memories of burying my face in them. Thank God they don't make that kind of butter in yellow dishes, or I don't know what I'd do. I grabbed a little disposable tupperware container and waited for the next bout. This time I was armed! Noah got sick at least one more time before Ryan got home from practice. After getting home, Ryan took over Noah duty while I cleaned up some more upstairs. Then, I started fading fast. I was SO tired. It was late. And I knew I was in for a LONG day the next day. Ryan said he'd take the first shift so that I could get some sleep. As it turned out, he stayed with Noah downstairs until 3 a.m. They turned on the fireplace, and Noah snuggled in under a blanket with Ryan. He proceeded to get sick another 8 times that night, making the grand total ELEVEN. I was none the wiser, as I was fast asleep upstairs.
Noah woke up the next morning in his crib screaming again. He got sick as soon as I walked into his room. It was so pitiful! Coincidentally, he had his 18 month check up that day at 2:00 p.m., but I called the doctor to see if we could push it up. They let us come in at 9:00 a.m., and by that time, Noah's seemed to be doing a lot better. He was acting like his normal self, being active and saying "No!" to every object he saw. Noah weighed in a 22 lbs., 15 oz. and was 32 inches tall. I was shocked! I thought for sure he'd weigh 25 lbs. Dr. Gloyeske said he probably just had gastroenteritis (aka: stomach flu) rather than food poisoning. I had my instructions about fluids and the BRAT diet, and we were out the door. No shots this time...we'll wait until he's well again! I was hopeful that things would be better soon.
Noah took a nap as soon as we got home but again woke up crying and getting sick. He seemed to feel better afterwards, though, and just played with his toys as usual. He had some water to drink...just small sips...and went down for another nap that afternoon. Once again, he woke up crying and getting sick. Can you hear my heart breaking...because it did. :( I honestly don't even remember the evening. All I know is that we all went to sleep, and Ryan woke up at 4:00 a.m. sick, too. That lasted for about 5 hours. My family was falling apart! I kept thinking to myself, "Mind over matter! I am not getting sick. Come on super mom gene! You have to kick in so that I don't get sick, too!" Ryan spent the day in bed upstairs, while Noah began to show signs of improvement. He didn't get sick all day and even ate a little food.
I went to work on Wednesday for just the morning and came home to take care of my sick boys. Well, let's be honest. Before Noah was born, I would make all over Ryan when he was sick. I would do anything to help him out! Since Noah's arrival, we're more on a "Fend for Yourself" rule when one of us gets sick. It's sad to say, but at this age, Noah just needs too much. Ryan again spent the day and evening in bed, while Noah continued to get better. We still didn't want him to go to the sitter just in case he was still contagious. He continued to eat and be merry on Wednesday. I put him to bed feeling like the worst might truly be behind us.
I had my evaluation at work Thursday morning, so I was gone for about 45 minutes. Then, I went back home to take care of the boys again. I was hoping to be there for just the morning, but when Ryan got a fever, I decided to take the rest of the day off. That is when Noah started getting sick again. This time it was the dreaded #3. You know what I'm talking about. I hate that word. I don't even want to write it, so we're going to refer to it as #3. Dr. Gloyeske said that would probably happen, so I wasn't too surprised when it did. Again, I put him to bed, determined to go to work on Friday and get some things done!
Ryan stayed home again on Friday. He still wasn't feeling 100% and felt like he could keep an eye on Noah. I think the day even went fairly well. This was Day #3 of making our way out of the woods and into the land of healthy families....or so I thought.
That night was a disaster. The #3 arrived in FULL FORCE. I am talking the most serious FULL FORCE you can imagine. It was so bad that when Ryan and I went up for bed that night, it only took one inhale for me to realize that I had a monster waiting for me in Noah's room. He didn't even wake up! He was SO incredibly tired and worn out. Remember, he had hardly eaten anything but Cheerios, 2 chicken nuggets, applesauce, and a few peas since Monday, and it was Friday. I got him stripped and gave him another bath, which is just what your sleepy baby wants to do when he's not feeling well. I got him all snuggled into his PJs, rocked him, and put him back to bed.
By this time, I am really starting to lose it. I am tired. I am nauseous from cleaning up mess after mess after mess. I am tired. I am frustrated. I am sad for Noah. I am sad for Ryan. Did I mention I was tired? For the third night in a row, I went to bed in the guest bedroom praying for a better day the next day.
When Noah woke up on Saturday, he refused to drink everything. I tried water, Gatorade, apple Pediatlye, and apple juice. He wouldn't drink anything! I started to panic a little. I knew after the previous night's issue, he was getting dehydrated. As a last ditch effort, I gave him some milk. He chugged it! He begged, "More, please! More, please!" I gave it a moment's pause. Should I give him milk? I thought to myself, "He hasn't been sick for 3 days. He's thirsty. It's the only thing he wants. Just give it to him." Noah continued to chug down his milk. He was acting fine, running around, and playing with his toys. Wonderful!
Or maybe not so wonderful. By that afternoon, The #3 Monster was back in full force. I have never in my life...I won't go there. It was bad. We hit the climax when he was sitting in his high chair, eating some applesauce and Cheerios. EVERYTHING CAME BACK UP....EVERYTHING! I am serious. I didn't know when it would end. It felt like 5 minutes before it stopped. His bib was FULL. I was nauseous again. Ryan was asking questions. Noah was crying. I-WAS-ABOUT-TO-SNAP. For the first time in my time as a mother, I thought to myself, "I could just walk out that door. I could just put on my shoes, get my keys, get in the car, and drive away." Thank God Ryan grabbed Noah and took care of him. I didn't know what to do, so I started cleaning. I was cleaning everything I could get my hands on. I was literally losing my head. Ryan was asking more questions. I couldn't even answer him. I was cleaning. I was really cleaning! I think I lost time, which is how I know I was experiencing a true moment of insanity. I can laugh about it now, but it was really, really bad then.
I don't remember much about the evening. I remember asking Ryan not to ask me any more questions. I told him that he had to make all the decisions because I wasn't able to do that anymore. My brain was fried. Noah was crying and whining a lot through the evening, but he didn't have any tears. He didn't want to drink anything, so I really started to worry. For the first time, I paged the on-call doctor, and he called me back right away (thank you Dr. Schmaller!). After going through the day, it was painstakingly obvious that the milk was probably the cause of Noah's trouble. Talk about Mommy Guilt! Did you just hear my heart snap in two again? Ryan got some unflavored Pedialyte, and thanks to the game of saying, "Cheers!" and hitting your cup to Noah's, he did manage to have a few small sips before bedtime.
When Noah went to sleep that night, I remember thinking, "The day is over. Oh my gosh, I never thought that day would end." I think it was maybe the most difficult day as a parent I have experienced so far. I know, I know. It's just getting me ready for the next battle. Just give me some time to recover!
When Noah woke up on Sunday, he was crying again. I got him out of his crib, and his diaper was almost completely dry. Ryan was at church playing in the band, so it was just Kya, Noah, and me. I carried Noah downstairs where he just snuggled into my shoulder and whimpered. I started thinking to myself, "Ok, now how do I get to Riley's Children's Hospital?" I couldn't get him to drink the Pedialyte, so I said, "All right, Noah. I think we better pray." He lifted his head off my shoulder and folded his hands. I prayed that God would help him feel better and that He would make Noah like new again. After we both said, "Amen," Noah snuggled in on the couch with me. We watched some cartoons, something he had never once done before he was sick. Soon after, he started taking some drinks of Pedialyte. He walked over to his high chair and begged me to let him eat. I gave him a few Cheerios, which seemed to taste good to him. So, I set the timer on my watch, letting him eat a few Cheerios and drink some Pediatlye ever 10-15 minutes. He handled everything really well.
Ryan came home from church, and by lunch, Noah was eating some Saltine crackers. We offered him half a banana, and he ate it quickly. The food and liquids increased as the day went, and before nightfall, Noah was functioning at about 80%. We put him to bed with high hopes for Monday. Ryan's parents had offered to stay with him while we were both at work on Monday. I had been really stressed out about work, knowing that some deadlines were quickly approaching. I got a ton of work done today and even ran some errands after work. I had good reports about Noah during the day, so I feel like we've turned a corner. I put up my garage door, and as soon as I got out of the car, I smelled a delicious dinner waiting inside! Honestly, I don't think I have ever come home from work to dinner like that. Partially, it's because I get off work before Ryan. The other is probably because Ryan isn't very confident in the kitchen. Regardless, my mother in law had dinner all ready for us! I could have kissed her!!! That's right, Gloria! :) I am so grateful that they took such good care of Noah and that I didn't have to fix dinner tonight.