Leap (of hell) Ten
How naive. We thought we were heading out of the woods with the vomiting bug after a few rough days. Once the Rascal’s fever had finally gone we thought the end was in sight. Wrong! Turns out that it was only the fever that had abated, every other symptom of the sickness remained. And just to add to the fun we were also struck down with strains of this nasty, horrible bug. It hung around for another week, stubbornly refusing to budge. We weren’t quite as bad as the Rascal, but looking after a sick child when you just want to crawl into bed yourself, is a special kind of hell. He was out of sorts for a long time – refusing all solids and needing to nurse little and often to try and keep some of it down. There were many awkward nights trying to feed him with a sand castle bucket wedged under his chin. He wasn’t enthusiastic about that, but I was even less enthusiastic about the mountains of clothing and bedsheets he was destroying. On a couple of occasions during the day I managed to position him in front of the toilet just in time for him to spew straight into it. His projectile-vomit aiming skills were becoming quite impressive.
Eventually he started to improve but was utterly wiped out from fighting it out of his system. He literally lay about for 48 hours unable to do much more than open his eyes for brief periods before going back to sleep. Occasionally he shuffled about like a drunk zombie. This was the most unnerving part of the illness. He’d stayed hydrated throughout (yay for breastfeeding!), but this lack of energy was very unusual for him. I knew of other babies who had been sent off to A&E for being so lethargic post-sickness. It was just due to low blood sugar levels that take time to return to normal. It’s still difficult not to become very worried that something more serious might be wrong. We toughed it out, and gradually appetite and energy levels increased. Now it was the reverse problem to deal with. A constantly hungry toddler, day and night! He just couldn’t get enough. He did finally get back to ‘normal’ about 2 weeks after the illness first hit. Unfortunately for us, the moon and stars had aligned very badly, and the end of the sickness coincided with a lot of other bad stuff I’d been dreading. The evenings becoming brighter. The clocks changing. And worst of all, developmental leap number ten. One of the biggest and baddest of the ‘wonder weeks’. It’s been total carnage in our house since then.
Leap 10. Bloody hell. It’s like being chained to a miniature Jekyll and Hyde. I’ll be deaf soon from all the blood-curdling screams if it really lasts a whole month. Already run down from the bug, I was a prime candidate for picking up a nasty cold straight afterwards which has also been impacting my ability to sleep or have the patience to deal with irrational behaviour. A typical day at the moment is chasing an accident-prone toddler who spends a lot of time running about like he’s amped up on red bull. He’s actually great craic during his sunny periods. His vocabulary is expanding exponentially. He’s constantly coming out with new words and practising new skills. I take him for a walk. We stop to look at flowers, and he runs about shouting ‘raaaar’ at the dandeLIONS. He’s carefully placing jigsaw pieces into his puzzles, or fitting shapes into a sorter with no help whatsoever. He busies himself happily stacking tins of beans into lofty towers in the kitchen. He finds everything either amazing or hysterically funny.
Then all of a sudden his switch flips, and he’s just hysterical. Over the littlest of things (which piece of toast he gets to eat first), or sometimes nothing at all. A typical bout – he doesn’t want what’s for dinner, he wants yoghurt. Meltdown. We figure out the issue and the yoghurt is produced by Daddy while I get the dinner dishes washed. An even stormier tantrum suddenly breaks loose, with yoghurt being smeared everywhere. It sounds like he’s being tortured. I step in after hurriedly rinsing the dishes and establish what the actual problem is this time. Daddy HAS USED THE WRONG SPOON! “What? Come off it, you’re kidding me! That’s ridiculous!”, says Daddy. Nope, not a joke. There are two sets of spoons and he has a strong preference for one of them. In his current mental state, offering the wrong one will send him teetering over the edge of sanity. As soon as the right spoon is in his hand he happily slurps spilled yoghurt and smiles in satisfaction at his bewildered father.
With days that go like this, I feel very weary when I attempt to put him to bed each night. It’s usually a solo effort. It’s never easy. He’s permanently exhausted it seems, but fiercely resists sleep like a seasoned insomniac. He doesn’t feed to sleep any more. He can’t be put in his cot awake, as he immediately starts rolling around like he’s being bitten by ants. He has to be held until he reaches slumberland. This can take anything upto a couple of hours. He alternates between lying there, eyes open, staring at nothing while his eyelids slowly droop… and kicking, punching and thrashing wildly with no warning. Aside from the logistics of trying not to drop a large toddler on his head while he’s flipping out, he’s getting very strong and it’s hard to tolerate the abuse. The worst thing is that once he’s finally gone to sleep, chances are he’s going to be up again screaming his head off within the hour like it’s the end of the world. This pattern can repeat for large chunks of the night. Can’t even pass him off to Daddy for a short break. If Daddy so much as looks his way, then Mr. Paranoia goes into hysterics in case he MIGHT be pried off me long enough for me to use the bathroom.
I have officially given up on the entire situation until I manage rid my system of bugs and coughs. Dealing with these antics while unwell is just not realistic. I do not care that he’s been camped out on the couch most evenings, dozing on one or other of us while we watch baby-friendly Masterchef and try to resist consoling ourselves with another bar of chocolate. I will care if this is still the norm in a few weeks when this leap will allegedly be over and we’re supposed to get our less irritable child back.
Exhausted. Drained. Running on empty. Leap ten is hell!