Midnight Triage Parenting

It was 12:58am when I heard the knock on my bedroom door. I can tell you this with certainty, because I had to hit the “home” button on my phone so I could have a modicum of light as I navigated the dog-filled carpet from my bed to the door. (Only one dog was nearly stepped on.) It was a rushed walk, as my 10-year-old had informed me through the closed-door that his stomach hurt and he thought he was going to throw up. His younger brother had a bout of tummy unease over the weekend, so this was a legit concern.

As I opened my bedroom door, I found my middle child laying in the fetal position, rocking on the floor. “My stomach hurts. My stomach hurts!” He was wailing. I got him up and told him to head to the bathroom. I feared I knew the next act in this nausea play.

And that’s when I noticed my oldest child’s bedroom door was also open. She looked at me from her bed and cried, “Mom, I don’t feel good. I have ninety-six nine.”

What? My midnight brain has no idea what this means. I have to ask her to explain.

“Ninety six nine!” she sobbed, “on the thermometer! I have a fever!”

Oh. 96.9. Okay, brain, let’s do math in the middle of the night, shall we?(I feel like midnight mental math should be deserving of a cookie or at least a sticker or something.) The average body temperature of a human is 98.6, meaning she does not have a fever.

Here comes the midnight triage parenting. I imagine this scenario is a lot like those scenes in the old TV show, MASH. (Awesome show, by the way, I totally loved it. And, a former boss once referred to me as “Radar,” which I definitely took as a compliment.) In MASH, when a chopper would arrive full of injured soldiers, the doctors and nurses had to decide – who needs the most help at that very moment?

So, there I stood at – let’s go with 1:00 am, since it probably took about two minutes to climb over the dogs, open the door, make out what my child was moaning on the floor and head down the hall. It’s 1:00am and I have not one but two kids now telling me “I don’t feel good!” You know what case made it to the top? The potential vomiter. My 10-year-old son was told to head to the bathroom, while my 14-year-old daughter was told to go to bed. I told her (I hope compassionately) that she did not have a fever and that sleep was her best option. And yes I meant it. And yes, she had to go to bed.

Then, I turned my attention to the 10-year-old, got him calmed down, and what felt like nine years later, back in bed. At that point, I was wide awake. Just me and my mom guilt.

I should have tried to treat my daughter, too.

I should have been nicer. What did I say?

I should have patted her head and told her she’d feel better soon.

I should have offered her a cool rag for her head.

So, instead of slipping back to sleep, I laid there thinking of all the shoulda, coulda, wouldas. And then… I tried to shift my thinking to the fact that I needed to count my blessings. My youngest was feeling better, my middle one was falling asleep and my oldest appeared to already be asleep. And, we can check “first back to school illness” off our list.

When it’s midnight and you’ve just woken up by a sick child, you are forced to make decisions. Those decisions grow exponentially with the number of kids that are awake and needing your attention. And boy can those midnight decisions be difficult!

What about you? What do you do during Midnight Triage Parenting? How do you handle it when more than one is sick?




Another Visit to Vomit Town

As I write this, my poor little seven year old boy lies next to me on the couch. (Crap. Is it lays, lies, lay? Man, I know we went over this in high school English. Ugh.) He is moaning in his sleep, flush faced and trying desperately to sleep off a 102.6 fever. Poor thing. At least he finally ate something. And kept it down.

Last night, he refused to eat dinner. This morning, he refused breakfast. While the rest of us ate our bowls of oatmeal, he threw up in the kitchen trash can. I could hear my daughter dry heaving a room away. Nothing like that lovely sound. But, here’s the thing – I think I’ve lost my other-people-vomiting gag reflex. For two weeks straight now, I’ve cleaned up some sort of mess off the couch or out of the carpet. And yet, no gagging. Odd. I even watched the dog barf the other day. Nothing. (By the way – if you pour white vinegar over the stain, sprinkle it with baking soda and leave it a few days to dry, the stain will vacuum right up.)

This lack of other-people-vomiting gag reflex leads me to believe I am either one of two things: A really bizarre Superhero or a mother. Yep. Well, you caught me. I’m not wearing a cape. In fact, I’m wearing an oversized sweater that my son said looked like a weird dress. That must make me a mom. The cleaner upper, make-me-better, hold my hand, put a cool rag on my head, bring me water mom.

After two weeks in Vomit Town, I may be no super hero, but I’m pretty sure I might soon be named mayor.

Here’s hoping you steer clear of this stomach bug. Believe me, you don’t want to run against me for this job.

Brightly Speckled Carpets

We just moved into our new house a couple of weeks ago. Our new house with light cream-colored carpet. It was bound to happen. And so it did.

My three-year old son was sent home sick yesterday with a fever. 102.6. He complained of a stomach ache. You’re thinking about my cream-colored carpet, aren’t you? Nope – wait for it. Not yet. I took him home and after some medicine, he was feeling a tad better. He went to sleep and woke up several times throughout the night not feeling well. You’re thinking about my new carpet again, aren’t you? Patience, my friend, patience.

After several hours spent tossing and turning, the alarm clock finally went off, although we were already awake. He’d woken up a few minutes before that, crying. This time he was saying his neck hurt really bad. Now, I don’t want to be “that” mom but I have been known to frequent WebMD a little too much. Darn symptom checker is addictive. Anyway, I have gotten away from all that and now play it case by case, child by child. However, I do know that neck pain and a fever are not a good combo, so when I called the doctor and they said they needed me to bring him in right away, just in case he had meningitis, I didn’t hesitate to make an appointment.

As we prepared to get out the door to his doctor appointment, my little three-year old bundle of unhappiness sat on the couch moaning. Then, it happened. The couch got it. The carpet got it. Did I mention the only thing he’d eaten in the last 12 hours was bright-colored gummy treats? My cream carpet now looks like an Easter egg exploded on it.

Oh, and I made the rookie mistake of pulling the T-shirt he was wearing over his head. It. Was. Everywhere.

After throwing up, his fever came down and now he says he’s feeling much better, although he’s been sleeping for the last two hours. Poor little monkey.

I’ll probably regret this, but what’s the nastiest thing that’s happened to your carpet?