There are just some parts of parenting that no book can prepare you for. And one of those parts is vomit. Yep. Puke. Up-chuck. Throw-up. Dealing with another human’s barf just cannot be described in a text.
I remember the first time Asher threw up in our house. I got some on me, and then soon after he vomited ALL over himself, his ears, his bed, his stuffed animals. And I remember thinking: the next time someone asks me who his “real” mom is, I’m going to say it’s the woman who catches his puke and tenderly cleans it out of his precious black hair, thankyouverymuch.
Tonight I was already on alert. All three of my kids have a very touch gag-reflex, and a good strong cough sets them off. Usually at night. My middle child was coughing more than usual. I was not, however, alert enough to prepare with a bowl for the Sydster. They were all in bed and I heard “the cry” which is a very distinct sound full of shock and disgust when a child is awakened by their own vomit, much like my own face as I’m cleaning the desecrated bunk.
I still stand by my theory that nothing prepares you for dealing with throw-up, and I will also say I, for one, have never gotten used to it, no matter how often it happens. (And for the record, because this is the kind of conversations parents have, I would rather clean up poop than barf. Any day of the week.)
However. I may not be used to it, but I, at least now have a plan of action. It’s a triage situation, you see. First, assess how to extricate the child. ALWAYS START WITH THE CHILD. If you are fortunate enough to have a co-parent nearby, you shout out assignments as you run to the scene. “I’ll get the bed, you get her in the bath!” You take the child in any clothes he/she is still wearing and go straight to the bath or shower and–I say this with utmost love–hose her down. I mean, fully clothed and all. Just hose the little sweet baby down. Lucky me, this has often happened when I’m the only adult home, which has the added bonus that the vomit gets to stay and linger in the puke room, seeping it’s nastiness into all crevices and textures, just soaking and letting its aroma spread as you are busy in the bath with the vomiter.
Next, you grab any washable item within a 6 foot radius of the incident and dump it straight in the wash. This is especially important if you were not present for the throwing-up, as I was reminded of the hard way tonight. I thought for sure that the Brave blanket was free and clear, and after I was tucking the clean and calm child back into her newly changed bed, she started to freak out again, pointing out that Princess Merida was far from clean.
The only upside of these horrid experiences (other than building up a stronger gag-reflex myself, and of course, strengthening my character) is that the kids love hearing these gruesome stories re-told. “Tell again about when Asher had puke in his ears!” “Tell the one where Sydney was a baby and pooped up her back!” We were reliving these awesome moments the other day and I added “And Carson, remember the time you were crying in the middle of the night, and I came to help you get down to go to the bathroom and you puked on top of me from the top bunk?!?!”
His answer, complete with hysterical laughter: “Oh my word! That one is CLASSIC!” I’m afraid it is, son. I’m afraid it is.