Dot writes: on Friday morning at about 7.30am we were congratulating ourselves on our best night pretty much since Frank was born. Frank had fed at 1.30am and then made it through to 6.30, in his cot (I think he sleeps better in the cot now than in our bed); Hugh was still asleep at a time his parents actually felt like getting up. I went downstairs to make tea and play with Frank. Ken went to check that Hugh wasn’t dead. As it happened, he wasn’t dead, but he was lying in a pool of sick. (Or possibly standing up in it, or struggling free of it; I wasn’t there and I’m not perfectly sure what stage of waking he had reached.) So Ken stripped the sheets off and we gave Hugh a bath, and we watched him a bit gingerly during the day but he seemed fine, if maybe a little lacking in energy.
The next night at about 10.30pm there were cries from down the hall. Ken went in and found that Hugh had vomited very copiously all over his bedding, part of the floor, and himself. Once more Ken stripped down the bed and the boy and did his best to give the latter a wash, hampered by the fact that by that time of night we never have any hot water left. There were no clean pyjamas so he re-dressed Hugh in his daytime clothes, and the cot mattress was damp and smelled of vomit so he brought him into our bed. I’m afraid poor Ken had to do all this by himself, as I sleep very heavily in the early part of the night (I’m programmed for babies who want to feed in the small hours) and I didn’t wake until the nasty work was done. I did share the privilege of being kicked for the rest of the night, however, and the pleasure of feeding the baby in a teetering cramped position on the edge of the bed when he was woken – several times – by his brother’s commotions was exclusively mine to enjoy. Maybe toddlers who have co-slept continuously learn some sort of bed-sharing etiquette, or maybe their parents are just particularly masochistic; either way, co-sleeping with Hugh, who’s used to his own private cot, is not fun. When he’d been foiled in kicking off the duvet he decided he’d rather lie across the width of the bed with his feet on my head. Or Ken’s head; he wasn’t choosy. It all ended in tears at about 6am, with everybody awake and everybody cross about it.
Advice: in case of illness, don’t look up the symptoms on the internet. You will always get the scariest possible diagnosis.*
We approached Satutday night with trepidation and our last reserves of cot-bedding, but in fact both boys slept well: Frank fed at 3 and at 6 and I was able to get him off again after that by bringing him into bed; Hugh made it through to 7.30. The one who spent the night vomiting was poor Ken, and he’s felt so ill today he’s passed the day so far in bed. Hugh may have slept well but he has a touch of diarrhoea and is generally whingy, cross and horrible. I have developed a beastly cold. Little Frank is just a tad hoarse, but we are a plague house altogether. I am considering painting a large cross on the door. I guess this is one of those rites-of-passage parenting experiences that comes to us all sooner or later, but the rosy glow of reminiscence has not yet replaced the sickly yellow light of the whole house being covered in vomity washing. Ugh. I gave up on taking the boys to church this morning and watched Labyrinth instead, which shows how bad it is.
*Epilepsy, in this case; or “epilopsy” as one forum contributor spelled it. Apparently there was an American TV programme recently called Mystery Diagnosis in which a child with night vomiting turned out to be having seizures. Hugh of course did have a classic tonic-clonic seizure when he was eleven months old, so this is not a totally far-out suggestion. I know epilepsy is not as awful as it’s often made out to be, but I’d still rather he didn’t have it.