It’s 3:00 a.m. I hear a whine. In my limited coherency, my overworked subconscious starts going through its unregulated-by-daytime-logic freak out mode. Eyes closed, the questions start: Was that a cry? Is he puking again? Did he sit up or is it going to be on him again? Why is he throwing up so much? Is it a tumor? Something so rare that we’ll have to go doctor to doctor until someone finds the answer? What if he didn’t sit up and he’s choking? Is Hubby getting up? Get up! Get up, body! GET! UUUUUP!
My body finally moves, simultaneously waking up my logic. It tells my subconscious to snap out of it. It’s not a tumor. It’s a virus. And it’s time to change the sheets again. One foot in front of the other, I walk toward the whine.
“Buddy? Do you need to throw up again? Lean over the trash can, okay? Want some water?”
I get him out of bed. He’s hot. He’s limp. Take off the wet pjs and strip the sheets. He waits quietly, face down on the ottoman while I finish. “Water?” his small voice attempts. We’re both going through the motions as if this happens all the time.
Thank God it doesn’t. I pause my nighttime chores for just a second to admire him, his tiny body’s strength.
Hour after hour it comes. Each time, he yells out a warning. “Mommy!” “Daddy!” sometimes one of us literally jumps out of bed and runs in his room. The adrenaline - just sitting on go, waiting to be beckoned. Other times my subconscious wins, muddying my brainwaves. One eye opens and wonders why the alarm clock is so bright. Mind coaxes body up, feet to the hardwood. As if running underwater I don’t make it in time. I find myself feeling around in the dark to find the wet spots. With bare hands, trying to determine - without waking Little Brother - whether sheets and pjs need another change.
I realize that after so many times, there is not even a smell. I ponder how it’s possible his tiny body can do this over and over. Is it normal? And that prompts the middle-of-the-night subconscious to ask the freak out questions. Again.
He lies back down. See you in about an hour, buddy. I don’t say it out loud – maybe he thinks that was the last time. My feet guide my body back to bed.
We do this dance all night, though he switches dance partners between Mommy and Daddy. Subconcious occasionally tries to cut in. But Adrenaline often pushes it off.
In the morning, I break the news that he can’t go to school. I know all he wants to do is sleep but still he is disappointed. “I won’t throw up anymore!” he promises. I explain that his body still needs time to fight the germs inside.
“Will the germs come out of my mouth?” he asks.
The simultaneous cute and gross of his question erases the blur of our night. We are in this together, little man. Dance partners matched by God – the one who has a way of always making me forget how exhausted I am.