The critter that started it all.
**WARNING - The following may cause nausea amongst some readers **
It began with the discovery of one of the twins sound asleep in a large puddle of vomit. I was hit with an overwhelming sour odour upon entering the room, alerted by the cry of her sister. Lola, still awake in the next room, found the whole thing disgusting and delightful, running around in mock-horror as I attempted to clean up baby and cot.
Pearl was fine the next day, eating breakfast with gusto and showing no signs of her previous night’s ordeal, so I declared it a 24-hour bug and hoped it was over.
That night, around midnight, we were awoken by Stella’s distressed cry. The Garbageman found her covered in spew. It was like déjà vu. We cleaned her up, wiped little chunks from her hair, stripped the bed and dug out clean sheets from the back of the cupboard. This one wasn’t quite as straightforward, however. Every hour for the rest of the night we awoke to her retching and crying. But like her sister the day before, she was hungry at breakfast and seemed all but recovered.
So I was hopeful our trip to the Southern Highlands, scheduled for that day, would not be impeded. I had started to feel a bit queasy, and by lunchtime it was clear Lola was not herself. Was this going to be a whole family affair?
We made the journey south without event until, five minutes from the village where we were staying, Stella started to cry and promptly hurled all over herself and her seat. I pulled over and grabbed some towels I’d packed for just this type of emergency. There was nothing for it but to cover the worst of the mess and drive on till we could put her in the bath.
By dinnertime, everyone seemed OK again. Not long after, however, the Garbageman started to look a little green. He took himself off to bed early but soon reappeared in a frantic race for the bathroom. Luckily he made it in time. He collapsed back into bed and I decided to snuggle in with Lola for the night, judging it the safer bet. However, just as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard her whimpering and instantly knew what was happening. Like Superwoman, I launched myself out from under the covers, grabbed her in my arms and raced out of the bedroom and across the living room, imploring her to hang on. We made it to the bathroom door before it all came up, and she continued to vomit after I’d dumped her, fully clothed, into the bathtub. She screamed too. “Get it off me! Mummy, get it off me!” I stripped her down then ran the bath for the third time that evening.
Meanwhile, the Garbageman, hearing the commotion, had leapt out of bed to see what was happening. All I heard was some muttering then a huge thud. I found him on the floor, his complexion yellow and pasty, looking a shade warmer than death. “Did you faint?” I asked. “I think so,” said he. It had started to feel like something out of a horror movie, or a bad comedy. I wondered how I would call an ambulance out to this cottage on the edge of this village in which we had no phone reception. I considered packing everyone up for a midnight drive back to Sydney and the safety of home, but the thought of more car vomiting was too much.
In the end, I settled Lola back into bed with a towel beneath her and a bucket on the bedside table. I had checked on the babies several times, and even went in once to see if the Garbageman was still breathing. I felt like I had to keep watch over them all and was struggling to fall to sleep. There was a final call before I drifted off – Stella bringing up the few pieces of plain pasta she’d had for dinner. I was getting good at this now. I heard the cry, ran into her room, grabbed her out of her cot and held a tea towel to her mouth to catch the mess. One less set of sheets to wash.
The next day was uneventful, at least in the regurgitation stakes. My nausea had passed and by dinnertime I was ready to declare us cured. Everyone went to bed without a struggle and I collapsed into an easy sleep. But at 1:30 in the morning, my time was up. After three nights of holding my babes while they chucked, cleaning up endless mess, washing load after load of laundry, shushing and comforting and reassuring, I found myself alone in a bathroom while they all slept soundly, chucking up my guts. Bleurgh.
I would like that to be the end of my sorry tale. There was, however, a final hurrah, not ten minutes from home on the return car trip. Lola again, this time all over herself. I managed to catch a lot of it in some towels, and again it seemed sensible to just get home and clean her up there. Of course, being Sydney, we had to wait at a few sets of traffic lights. I looked at my girl in the rear-view mirror, hair plastered down by vomit, bits stuck to her chin, her cheeks, her shoulders. The requisite screaming. I glanced down and saw a smear of spew across my sleeve. Just get home, I thought. Just get home.
And home it was. Home to another daytime bath. Countless loads of washing. Three car seats removed, covers stripped and washed, reinstalled. Please let that be the end of it.
My, weren't yesterday's photos a nice foil for the reality of our minibreak!