6:00 a.m.: The alarm rings. My mental to-do list immediately begins to run through my head. It’s a bit longer and more urgent than usual because today is the last day I’ll be home for a week.
Early tomorrow morning, my 10 month old and I will say goodbye to Eric and the boys and board a plane with my sister, Allison. Fifteen hours later we’ll arrive at our destination: Washington state. Our sister, Jen, moved out there with her family last year. The last time they were home for a visit, Annelise looked like this:
At that point she was two months old. She could sleep, nurse, poop, cry, and smile occasionally. Eight months later she can sleep, eat real food, poop, cry, smile, sit up, crawl, stand, walk if she’s holding onto things, ‘talk’, and a bunch of other things I’m forgetting. This is how she looks now:
Eight months in baby time is like 18 years in adult time for all the changes that take place. So needless to say, Jen and I are pretty excited to get some good visiting time in.
7:55 a.m.: Eric calls while dropping Eli off at school to inform me they forgot his snack. During our conversation he mentions that four kids are out sick with the stomach flu.
Now let me just stop here for a moment and explain something. I have a weird paranoia when it comes to puke, especially the contagious kind. Stick me in a crowded room with dozens of conversations happening at once and my Supersonic Sickness Radar will pick up any mention of the following phrases and words, even if they are whispered from across the room: “throw up”, “puke”, “got sick”, “stomach bug”, “vomit”, etc. Once I’ve caught wind of one of these words or phrases, I begin to obsess. “Are they talking about someone throwing up? Who got sick? Was I around this person recently? No? Well then, was this person recently around someone who I was recently around? How long were they sick before the next person got it? Okay, so if the incubation period is three days and I was last around the friend of the sicko two days ago and this year is a leap year… Oh no, I feel a little queasy.” You get the idea. I could be institutionalized. And while I am fully cognizant of how ridiculous my freak out session is, I truly have a hard time getting my out of control thoughts back under control.
So anyway, you can imagine that Eric’s news on the eve of my departure is not very well received. My stress level jumps several notches and instead of checking the weather report every couple of hours for updates on the snowstorm, I switch to my crazy line of mental questioning mentioned above.
11:15 a.m.: Time to pick Eli up from school. I peek through the window into his classroom and notice what a small group of children are there. When his teacher opens the door she informs us that seven kids are out with a stomach bug today. SEVEN KIDS. Are you kidding me?!?! How is that even possible? Almost HALF of his class got sick at the same exact time. Did someone bring a spray bottle of germs to school on Friday and assault the kids with it? Stress level jumps several more notches. As soon as we make it to the car I squeeze half a bottle of hand sanitizer into his waiting palm and squirt the rest of the bottle into my own hand. I give him strict instructions: “Stay away from Annelise!!! Do NOT get in her face!!! Actually, that goes for everyone. Samuel, you stay out of her face too! I need this girl healthy. Eli, as soon as we arrive home, strip off all of your clothes, wash your hands, and put on clean clothes!!!”
The afternoon passes uneventfully. I continue working on my to-do list. The kids all eat a good lunch and play as though they feel fine. I call Eric and he assures me that Eli will remain healthy. I yell at the boys to stay out of Annelise’s face anytime they get within three feet of her. I call Jen to get her take on the situation. She says she’ll pray for us and tells me to keep her updated.
6:00 p.m.: Eric returns home from work and we sit down for supper. Eli doesn’t want to eat what I’m serving. He claims to have a stomach ache. I’m 99% sure this is a ploy. He’s a lot like me; the mere mention of a stomach bug can make him feel sick. Plus, at the age of four, he already knows me well enough to know that I won’t chance forcing him to eat a big dinner if there’s the possibility that I’ll see it again later. We compromise. He eats his noodles and sauce, but leaves the chicken and broccoli on his plate.
8:00 p.m.: Bedtime. As Eric cuddles with Eli, Eli tells him he doesn’t want me to leave tomorrow. He’s a sensitive little guy and the thought of either of his parents being gone for any length of time makes him pretty sad. Eric and I switch places and Eli informs me that his belly hurts. This time I’m 80% sure it’s his nerves more than an actual stomach ache. He falls asleep within minutes.
8:30 p.m.: Jen texts to see how everything is. I tell her ‘so far, so good!’.
10:00 p.m.: As Eric and I watch TV, we hear a noise upstairs. I go to investigate. Eli is sitting up in his bed with a strange look on his face. Crap. “Eli, are you going to be sick?” A nod. I grab the waste basket and sit next to him. He gives a couple of gagging coughs, but nothing happens. And then I realize. There’s something all over the bed. Oh, and my pants are wet. He’s already been sick. Thoughts about my trip disappear as I take care of my poor sick baby boy. Eric takes him down the hall to clean him up and I strip his bed. I bring the pile of blankets downstairs and see that I’ve gotten a text from Allison. It begins, “Hey, all set for tomorrow?” Ugh. I text Jen. “Eli sick. Call soon.”
10:20 p.m.: I call Allison. She suggests that we see how the night goes.
10:45 p.m.: Eli gets sick again. I call Jen. We both agree that I need to stay home. My son needs me. Not to mention the fact that all the next day I would be terrified that Annelise or I would get sick on the plane. I call the airline. They’re experiencing ‘heavier than normal call volumes’. They will keep my place in line and call me back in 3-4 HOURS. Oookay, that will be between 2 and 3 a.m. Eric suggests that I go to bed. He’s going to stay up for a while and do laundry (Have I mentioned yet how amazing my hubby is when the kids are sick? He’s amazing most of the time, but he really steps it up when something like this is going on. Probably because he knows how much I loathe it.). He’ll keep the phone in case the airline calls.
1:00 a.m.: I wake up to Annelise’s cries over the baby monitor. I groggily walk to her room to reinsert her pacifier. She’s throwing up. Well, at least I made the right call by cancelling our trip. Eric and I switch places. He goes to bed and I sit on the couch holding my baby girl. I try the airline several more times with the same result.
5:00 a.m.: I finally get my call back. Thankfully, I’m still able to cancel my reservation, despite a hefty fee. We’ll figure out if our travel insurance covers that fee later when I’ve had some sleep and can actually function on a semi-intelligent level. I put Annelise back in her crib and crawl into bed.
7:30 a.m.: Our family slowly stirs to life. We all sit in the living room as though we’ve been drugged. Allison boards the plane and begins the 15 hour journey to Washington all alone. I begin apologizing to everyone involved in the trip. Everyone begins to send their “I’m so sorry” messages to me.
9:30 a.m.: Eli and Annelise seem to be on the mend. Eric, Samuel, and I are still healthy. But let’s see. If the incubation period is 3 or 4 days and I was around the sicko on Tuesday…