In Sickness and in Health

My Christmases tend to throw up some drama or other. Last year was the unfortunate unemployment incident, helpfully timed by the caring people at Viking FM for when my baby daughter was just weeks old. The year before I had a blowout on the M62 – a lot less dramatic than it sounds but since when have blogs ever been about downplaying events? Before that it was the alternator on the car that went on Christmas Eve, so I knew that something was in store this year and fate did not disappoint.

pillsOn the Friday before Christmas, Elsa went to sleep as normal and we got on with our night only to be disturbed by the unmistakable sound of a baby vomiting on the monitor. We cleaned her up, put her back down and, within minutes, she’d done it again. Then it happened again. I’m no Gina Ford but even I knew that wasn’t an ideal situation for a 13 month-old.

Jill bundled the bedclothes into the washer whilst I rang whatever the new version of NHS Direct is, which is just like NHS Direct but without spending any money on actual trained medical staff who were actually pretty useful when you had an urgent actual medical question. Thanks Mr. Cameron.

What I was confronted with instead was a bored-sounding teenager, armed with a generic questionnaire and an inability to listen to any of my answers, “She’s had some loose bowel movements” “Has she had any diarrhoea?” “Erm…”.

Despite a deep concern for our little girl who couldn’t even hold down water, I did find it fairly funny when I was asked whether she’d recently been to West Africa – a legitimate question of course, but I couldn’t get the image of a toddler in a business suit, arriving back at Leeds-Bradford after an important meeting in Gabon, out of my head.

We were sent to the out-of-hours GP who told us that it was a cold. Probably. Or maybe a gastric bug. Perhaps. He was right with the second diagnosis as we discovered two days later when, despite Elsa seemingly fully recovered, both Jill and I suddenly found ourselves struck with the same illness at the same time. I have had very few more wretched evenings than that one which was spent tag-teaming between throwing up and looking after Elsa. The next morning was torture too, with a fully awake baby keen to crawl around at full-pelt, climbing all over me and demanding to be pushed on her trike when all I could possibly muster from a curled-up ball on the floor was a pathetic whine and a weak smile.

There have been some tough challenges in our first year and a bit of parenting but I’d rate looking after an energetic tot whilst suffering through flu (actual flu, not a sniffle), knowing full-well that the only back-up available, Jill, was upstairs in as bad, if not worse a state, is definitely up there. I’ll be mainlining vitamin C from now on in.

We survived the day by employing a shift system – two hours on, two hours asleep, with both of us crashing out when Elsa had her naps. I’ve never been so happy for her to nod off at night, knowing that that meant we could be snuggled under the duvet before Corrie had even started, with a good prospect of a decent run of sleep ahead of us.

The weird thing is that our system worked so well that the next night, better but not well, neither of us could sleep. Since Elsa, I don’t think there has been an evening when I wasn’t fit to drop by bedtime; the idea of struggling to drop-off had become as alien not having wet wipes strategically placed around the house. I can’t imagine we’ll experience it again for a while and it certainly wasn’t worth us all being as ill as we were, but nostalgia is all the rage and it was like taking a quick peek into the Museum of Life Before Children.

Incidentally, after a relatively illness-free Christmas Eve and Day, I came down with the bug again meaning that I can proudly boast to be the only person in the country to lose half a stone over the festive period. My dieting book is out in January but the main thrust is that I bring Elsa round next time she’s ill to give you a giant, sloppy, snotty kiss. You’re welcome.

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