Night Of The Puking Toddler: Surviving Our First Stomach Bug

Note: I wrote the first draft of this post right before taking a hiatus from contributing to Lafayette Mom. I had originally planned to resume writing in August but, lo and behold, my house got hit by Stomach Bug Part II at the end of July, so I thought it only fitting that I submit this as my first post back.

I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey. I should begin by saying that when it comes to my 3-year-old’s health, we’ve been lucky. Like, lottery winner lucky. Aside from one very scary anaphylaxis incident when he was an infant and the normal amount of preschoolitis (the term our pediatrician uses for the sniffles and coughs that preschoolers pass hand-to-filthy little hand in a never-ending circle of germs), my kid is crazy healthy. We haven’t dealt with ear infections, tonsils, or tubes. When my husband and I were down and out with Original Recipe COVID back in 2020, my son had a 99-degree temperature and a runny nose for exactly 6 hours.

So yeah, we’ve had it pretty easy.

But this week the stomach bug found us and needless to say, we were unprepared. Let me take you there.

Wednesday, 11:30 PM

My husband and I go to bed. We have an early start tomorrow so we’re feeling pretty smug about being in bed before midnight. I say out loud how much I’m looking forward to a restful night’s sleep.

1:45 AM

I wake up to my son on the baby monitor coughing and fussing. He’s been coughing here and there for a few weeks (there’s that prechoolitis we talked about), but he sounds pretty mad. My husband gets up to get him water but by the time he’s out of bed the little one has settled back to sleep.

1:47 AM

Never mind. He’s awake and he’s furious. My husband goes to our son’s room and I immediately hear him say “Oh. My. God.” I get up to help and cross paths with a shell-shocked husband holding a very angry toddler by the armpits at arm’s length. Toddler is covered in something and he’s not happy. “It’s puke,” my husband informs me with the far off look of a man who is forever changed. “Everywhere puke.”

2:00 (??) AM

Glad that’s over! Sheets and stuffed animals are in the wash, floors mopped, mattress Lysol’d. My husband and son showered off which only made my son angrier. Everyone is clean and dry and in our bed ready to go back to sleep. Before we turn off the lights I think to grab a towel, just in case.

(Here I’ll pause to explain: in my house growing up when we had stomach ailments we took a towel to bed. We all barfed into towels. As adults we’ve learned that’s pretty weird actually, most people just use a trash can.)

2:01 (probably) AM

I’m almost to the bedroom door, beach towel in hand, when I hear a gag and the world’s saddest little toddler voice saying “Oh no…” and before you can say “Try to aim him away from the duvet” we have puke #2 on our hands (and clothes and bed and floor and yes, the duvet). Mid-puke we manage to get him out of bed and over the towel, and you know what? Everyone else has it right. Trying to aim throw up directly into a towel is terrible.

4 or something, who cares AM

We’re clean again, but for how long? We’re out of places to sleep so the whole gang is in the never-used guest bed. Now my exhausted child can finally sleep. Just kidding lol. He’s got a captive audience in a room where he never gets to play. He cannot squander this opportunity. He moves around the bed singing every song he knows, delivering impassioned monologues, and practicing his tap dancing, kicking us both in the head a solid 50 or 60 times. Finally, he gets quiet and lays very still. Oh, wait, no. He’s puking again.

What is time, really? AM

Miraculously, everything ends up in a towel this time. I send a panicked SOS “HE’S THROWING UP WHAT TO DO HELP ??????” text to my mom and sisters. Another load of towels and linens is in the wash. My son puts his head down with a deep sigh until he realizes minutes later that he’s feeling way better. “Water!” he demands. Okay. “Juice!” Sure. “Another supper!” Yeah right, kid.

Several hours later…

Eventually, after being treated to more of my son’s song, dance, and karate to the face showcase, our alarms go off and it’s time to start the day. I tell my husband I texted my mom and sisters for advice and he asks me what they said. I squint, frowning at my phone for at least 15 seconds. “I…. don’t know.” I tell him. It seems I’ve lost my ability to read.

45 minutes and half a cup of coffee later my literacy returns and I read my family’s advice. Hydration, fevers, things to look out for… I feel a little smug again for having done everything right. “BY THE WAY,” my sister adds. “It’s probably going to hit you next so avoid eating dairy or anything too rich or acidic.”

I freeze mid-chew, my mouth full of chocolate croissant chased by a swig of creamy coffee. “Oh for sure,” I reply. “Totally.” 

My stomach gurgles ominously.

Libby Judice-Smith
Libby was born and raised in Baton Rouge. She is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where she studied theatre and film performance in their dual campus program in both New York and Los Angeles. She then spent many years traveling the world as a character performer with Disney Cruise Lines, and later as a lounge musician along with her husband, Garrett, for Celebrity Cruises. After returning home to plant roots and have their son, Crosby, Libby and Garrett decided to make the move to Lafayette to be closer to family, and they couldn’t be happier with their decision. Libby now satisfies her wanderlust by exploring all that her new beloved hometown has to offer, and still loves to occasionally play music with her husband as Sugar and Honey, their acoustic pop duo.


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