snot and coughing and puke and parenting
the cause of this vomiting was not due to any stomach-related ailment. to the contrary: baby nice guy has a serious chest cold. so serious, in fact, that she sounds like she's breathing under water. scratch that -- it sounds like she's breathing under jello. her chest is packed tight with 38 pounds of solid snot. sometimes this is funny, like when she's feeling playful. she has been known to growl when she is feeling playful. add to this growling 38 pounds of chest-cavity phlegm and you get the effect of a 4-foot tall ancient jewish man unaccustomed to moving. i know what those sound like because i had two of them as grandfathers. when she's breathing (at rest, mind you), she's out of breath because it's hard to breathe through 38 pounds of snot. also she rattles like a chain made of mucus.
the bad thing here is the coughing. so much coughing! i hate it when she coughs. like when she coughs so hard she barfs. not good. i wish i could have every chest cold she will ever have. but, alas, i cannot. i am genetically unable to get sick -- trust me, i have tried. it's just not in my makeup. mr nice guy is depressingly healthy. robust. strong. and handsome. also charming and a little bit irresistible. but that is neither here nor there. the main thing is that she was coughing so much that she choked on her own snot and puked.
yesterday morning mrs nice guy called the pediatrician and gave her the bare facts: baby sounds as if she is breathing through a cheese cloth. lots of coughing. we have a good friend whose toddler had pneu-fucking-monia last week. our child has a fever. we are very, very afraid. the pediatrician said "can you be here in half an hour?"
yes, yes we could.
have you ever had a cat that required 3 vet technicians to hold her down just so the vet could take her temperature? have you ever had a cat go completely feral in the examination room, remove the eyeballs from one of the technicians with her claws, hop into the sink and burst into flames? no? well let me tell you, we have one and taking her to the vet ranks among the most terrifying experiences in my life.
until! until, that is, the pediatrician popped her head into the examining room and my daughter apparently recognized her from the 18-month checkup. her eyes rolled back into her head and, in the intervening 10 excruciating minutes, she shouted every directional she knew -- take me anywhere, she said, as long as it was away from the voodoo-witch-devil-doctor: "OUTSIDE! UP! DOWN! NO! UP! UP! NO! nononono! MOMMY! UP! GHGHGHGHGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGLLLBEBBB! updownupdownupdown! DADDY NO!"
so my kid is apparently part feral cat. but, at the end of the visit, the news was good. no snot in her lungs, even though it sounds like she is sculpted entirely out of snot. there is apparently none actually in her lungs. great news, but i suspect that's because all the snot is in her liver. and her kidneys. and her heart. and her throat. and her girlparts. and her ears ...
whatever. we go to the pharmacy and buy her some industrial-strength over-the-counter meds. get this: i am actually carded when i try to buy the meds. carded! i start asking all kinds of increasingly-suspicious questions, which probably made the process go slower. it certainly felt like it took a long time. i was all "why are you carding me? are you checking out my record? can you make meth out of this stuff or something? are you sending my name to the statehouse? can i have my ID back? is there a limit to how much of that i can buy? would you arrest me if i wanted to buy, like, 16 boxes of it? what if i wanted sudafed? do you sell medicinal marijuana too? polonium? seriously, what the fuck?"
anyway, after a full body cavity search, they finally let me buy the allegedly-OTC drugs. i seriously contemplated mainlining the whole bottle right in front of the pharmacist, just to spite her! but in the end i decided the kid needed it more than i did. so we brought her home and gave her a healthy dose of the state-registered babydrugs. she seemed to react pretty well. thank the lord. the cough slowly began to subside.
then, just before bedtime, she started coughing again. then she coughed so hard she barfed. again. i scooped her up at one point and ran her to the sink -- she barfed everywhere. except the sink. mostly she barfed on her mom. and her mom's laptop.
have you ever held a small child in your arms while she barfed everywhere? it's one of those experiences that is simultaneously tragic and horrifying and sad and empowering and kind of touching all at once. it's a rite of parenthood passage.
here is what you think while your child is barfing uncontrollably in your arms: "wow she's tiny and she's barfing like a really big person. i mean, like, a really big person. and she's mine. and it's my job to deal with this, to take care of her. and i actually CAN take care of her. i can feel her little body convulsing in my arms with every wretch. how awful. BUT I AM DAD, I WILL TAKE CARE OF EVERYING! oy, she's still barfing. did that splash on my shirt? hey, this is not as gross as i thought it would be. but i wish she would stop barfing now because she's breaking my heart. also this is a lot of barf. i remember once in college ... ok, she's done barfing. what now? i have to pretend like it's not gross and there's not barf all over my house and i have to comfort her -- which, amazingly, comes quite naturally. poor baby. she's so heartbreaking after she's just barfed. who's going to clean this up? oof, this really smells like grown-up puke. i will be a good father and i will clean (some of) this up. wow. can i have a beer now?"
anyway, it's a day later and she's not any better. she's still crying out in her sleep and coughing and this sucks. the coughing is evil. she has one eye that bulges out when she coughs and it's hard sometimes to not laugh at her when she goes all coughing-popeye. but at night, when she should be asleep, like right now, you just want her to sleep. the coughing is not so funny after dark. and it's not actually that funny anyway during the day. you just worry that she's going to gag and puke. and then you feel powerless and scared and pissed off at the world. and you want her to sleep ... just sleep. you also wonder ... where's that beer?