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i don’t feel so capable

The other night, I had just drifted off to sleep. Our cat was curled up against my tummy, purring away and giving me some extra warmth. I was reaching that really good point of sleep when a small, familiar voice woke me up with a phrase that always makes me panic:

“Mum. I don’t feel so good.”

It was the baby, obviously, and his stomach was upset. He’s never been very good about describing his symptoms, but from what I could gather, he’d just experienced one of those vomit-burps. I’m sure you know what I mean. It starts out as a burp and then takes a frightening detour and though you emerge with your digestive system intact for the moment, it freaks you out. Am I getting ready to spew? Or was it just a slight malfunction? I need to know how much I need to dread the next few minutes/hours and whether or not I should move my operations to the bathroom.

I felt my stomach drop, particularly when the baby squeezed out a few tears and rested his head on my chest (partially because I felt bad for the little guy and partially because if there was going to be spewing happening, I did not want his face mere inches from mine).

I interrogated him on the state of his stomach (“Do you think you need to barf? Have you pooped today? On a scale of 1 to 10, how gross does your stomach feel?”) and urged him to try going to the bathroom. I gave him a Tums, even though I wasn’t sure he was old enough to have one yet, and after a few minutes he declared that he thought he was okay.

He climbed back into bed and I asked him if he wanted a bucket, just in case. He did. I climbed back into my bed and stared at the ceiling and waited and listened.

Though I’ve gotten better at handling digestive eruptions since I’ve been a mom, I’m still prone to panic at the thought of one of us coming down with any kind of stomach bug because I can’t deal with vomit. And, of course, because I’ve turned overthinking things into a sport, I’m sure that this speaks volumes about me as an adult and a parent.

I can remember at least two occasions in which the baby has puked and I have handed the reigns over to another parental figure with shaking hands. Once was when he was about a year old and we were living with my mom. It wasn’t the first time he had been sick, but for whatever reason, I stood in the doorway of his room, wide-eyed, unable to move, and asked my mom to please clean him up for me.

Another time was about a year ago and we had made the unfortunate decision to eat at Wendy’s earlier that evening. Regurgitated chicken nuggets are, I’m pretty sure, the scent of Hell. I couldn’t deal and the husband heroically did all of the dirty work.

Because of our recent crushing blows, I’ve been really upset. Like, really upset. And I’m questioning every aspect of my life and how I’m doing. My evaluation of myself results in pretty low marks and my inability to deal with vomit or even the threat of vomit threw me.

I don’t remember my mom ever having trouble taking care of me. I can distinctly recall a particularly nasty stomach bug that I had in third grade that seemed to go on for days and had me spending my nights in my parents’ bed, next to my mom, and when I had to get sick I would KICK her. She would wake up and hold back my hair and direct me toward the bucket. Calm, sleepy, unfazed, and certainly not dry heaving behind me.

I don’t know that I could do that and it’s just the latest in a long list of things that I’m feeling…incapable of. I’m having trouble going to sleep at a reasonable hour, getting up at a reasonable hour, doing laundry, participating in any cleaning activities, exercising, dieting, getting lunches and clothes ready for the next day, figuring out what I want to do about job stuff, raising a man, being a partner to a man.

Am I just overwhelmed? Or am I just incapable?

12 comments to i don’t feel so capable

  • Overwhelmed. Some of us just cannot deal with the vomit. And you deal with it more than I think I’d be able to. I just…vomit is…it’s bad, man, and it simply…shouldn’t be. You’re doing OK, you’ve just been snagged with some bad turns. It will get better. Just wish I could guarantee when.
    .-= Kizz´s last blog ..Like A Curling Iron =-.

  • Vomit sucks. One of my parents couldn’t deal at all. Didn’t make him a bad Dad.

    Cat and dogs set up me up nicely for handling the grossness that comes out of children. I should thank them one day.

    Hoping it all gets better soon.
    .-= ClumberKim´s last blog ..I Came, I Was Awed, I Cooked, part two =-.

  • It’s tough when life just keeps piling on the bad. Hang in as best you can – the tide will surely turn.

    Oh, and I can’t deal with my OWN puke, let alone someone else’s, so I’m totally with ya there.
    .-= RockyCat´s last blog ..Winter =-.

  • I’m the same way – I refer to it as my phobia. Right up there with flying in airplanes. I was lucky to be given such a good “sick-kid” – when my daughter is sick, she pretty much takes care of herself. And I feel like an awful parent (her only parent) because I have a difficult time with it. But like any parent, we get caught off guard.

    On another note – try not to be so hard on yourself. I’m going through a depression of my own right now and know that things will be what they will be, no matter how hard I struggle. I recently told a friend of mine who’d been hospitalized for a severe anxiety attack to read the Serenity Prayer. If it doesn’t make sense to you now, it will one day. Then it will every day after that. Take care…go easy on yourself.

  • Definitely overwhelmed. I had to clean up some the other day and very nearly threw up myself. Would’ve handed over the reigns in a heartbeat!
    .-= pgoodness´s last blog ..59/365 =-.

  • I grew up with a major vomit phobia. I wasn’t just grossed out… I was terrified of it. Seeing it, smelling it, doing it, seeing/hearing others do it. I was afraid to watch movies because there might be a vomiting scene. I didn’t go on class trips if I could help it because there was always one kid who got sick on the bus. I would sometimes cry myself to sleep because I was so sad I would never be able to have children. As an adult, my phobia has morphed into something more manageable, but the threat of vomit still scares the bejesus out of me.
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..Not just for hippies anymore =-.

  • mouthy_broad


    anything i can say will just sound lame and trite.

  • rachelraven

    The nurse in me can clean up nugget barf AND eat nuggets at the very same time. I can go from shoveling food in my piehole to cleaning up tube feed regurg in the blink of an eye. I’ve been pooped on, peed on… the only smell that gets to me a bit, and not severely even but more than any other out there is the smell of oozing edema from very sick sick people. Can’t describe it, but you know it once you smell it. Oh, and necrotizing fasciitis and gangrene are pretty icky. And actually, barf when it’s past barf is kinda sickly smelling, too… you know, when it’s not food barf, but now it’s just hot, bile barf. Ah, who am I kidding? Unless it was a corpse in 90F weather all maggot encrusted, not much makes me hurl anymore. Stomach of steel.

    And I’d say you’re just overwhelmed… and maybe a bit wintered out at this moment.

  • Overwhelmed.

    Like you & some of the commenters above, I don’t deal well with vomit. I get the shaky knees and the panicked, non-blinking eyes and everything. I was terrified of morning sickness when I got pregnant (I luckily never actually barfed), and was even scared I wouldn’t be able to handle infant spit-up (I was fine…but I’m sure the sheer exhaustion helped). I don’t know what it’s going to be like handling the actual kid-sized barf…but for what it’s worth, I always think about you when it comes to that, because I remember reading here before that you are a fellow vomit-phobe, and you are still a good mom. So thanks.

    My main motivation for aiming to keep my calm in future vomit scenarios is so my daughter doesn’t end up like me. What a pain in the ass being afraid of barf.
    .-= jive turkey´s last blog ..Wha’ Happened? =-.

  • Definitely overwhelmed.

    I used to teach preschool so I’ve been privy to more than my share of disgusting bodily fluids all up in mah biz. It is gross and sometimes dry-heavey (I just made up a word!). And I’m not even a parent yet.

    You know what? NO ONE CAN TELL if you turn your head away while they are barfing so you don’t see/smell it as much. You can still hold their hair and rub their back and murmur comforting nonsense at them and it all has the same effect as it would if you were peering over their shoulder. I mean, this isn’t a total goldmine of information because there’s no real avoiding if they don’t hit a toilet/bucket/trash receptacle that makes for easy clean up. But my point is, give yourself some wiggle room here. You’re doing fine and I’m sure there are things about parenting that your husband has a hard time dealing with that he hands off to you. :)
    .-= Austin´s last blog ..It’s a Starbucks kind of morning =-.

  • You’re so not incapable (you are everything that child needs, I know it) but I know that feeling well right now.

    I am afraid of throwing up. I cry just about every time, still, it upsets me so much. (Hello, fra-gee-lay.)

    Hoping things get better soon.
    .-= Laurie´s last blog ..Untethered. =-.

  • ozma

    Oh kdiddy, I got kind of teary eyed. Like, hello fellow traveler.

    I am feeling incapable. It’s hard. I’m sorry you are going through this. No one can be capable all the time. But yes, yes, and yes. And damn. I hope it gets better.

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