Today’s post is way gross, people.
You have been warned.
Here on Pretty All True, you get what you get. It’s not all happy rainbows and flowers, people.
When Maj was between the ages of 3 and 5, she would occasionally have night terrors. For those of you unfamiliar with these joyful things, I can only tell you what they were like in my particular child.
I would put Maj to sleep, and about two hours after she fell asleep, there would be a scream. Not just a scream, but a horror-movie scream. You know the one . . . just as the crazy psycho-killer is about to stab and slash the life out of a beautiful blond girl . . . she screams.
My beautiful blond girl would scream like that . . . a long, shrill, panic-filled, shrieking, terrified scream. A scream to fill the house and stop my heart.
So the house would fill and my heart would stop, and I would race down the stairs and into Maj’s room. She would be flailing and screaming, her eyes wide open, her arms and legs all stiff.
But she was not awake.
I would push her gently back down into her bed, talk soothingly, rearrange her covers, and sit with her for a few minutes until she was calm.
She slept through all of this.
In the morning, she would remember nothing at all about the night terrors. If she remembered anything, it was only that I had visited her in the middle of the night for no apparent reason.
This didn’t happen every night, but it happened often enough that I started getting used to the screaming. I would still sit upright in bed, my heart pounding. But instead of going down to check on her every time, I would listen to the baby monitor.
It turned out that a lot of times? She didn’t need me. She would scream and flail as though she was being attacked for perhaps 15-20 seconds, but then she would roll over and continue sleeping as though nothing had happened. She slept through all of her terror. And in the morning, she remembered nothing at all.
So on this particular night, she screams wildly at about 11:00 pm, just as Mark and I are going to bed. I listen, and she quiets down, and so I do not go down to check on her. She screams again at about 12:30, but again, after several piercing screams, she quiets down. And I go back to sleep.
And then she screams again at 3:00 am. Only this time, the screaming is continuous and throaty and different somehow. As I come fully awake, I realize that she is screaming for me, which she never does in her night terrors. And I realize she is awake and scared out of her mind.
So I race downstairs and fling open her door.
Maj is weeping and wailing and screaming. She is wide awake. She is terrified.
And she is covered in vomit.
During her two earlier night terrors? She has thrown up. Thrown up all over her bed and her pillow and her blankets and herself . . . without waking up. Each time, she laid back down and slept in a pool of her own vomit.
I try to comfort her, talking calmly as I assess the damage. It is almost beyond belief. Her long blond hair (which hangs to the middle of her back) now hangs in dreadlocks of barf. Some of it is dry and sticking out away from her head at crazy angles. Her face is covered, and one eye is glued shut. Her ears and nose are filled. Her arms are encrusted with dried bits of horror. There is slime and ooze and bits of half-digested food everywhere I look.
And the stench is overwhelming and horrific.
And her arms are outstretched. And she is hysterical with fear.
There is nothing to do but hug her.
And so I do.
“OK, babe . . . listen, babe. You didn’t know you had barfed?”
“I didn’t barf! Who did this, Mommy? I didn’t barf!”
“Oh, sweetie, I think this is all you. OK, this is really bad, and we have to get you cleaned up, OK?”
She is weepy and incredulous, “I barfed?”
I reach behind her to pull her nightgown off of her body and over her head. This task is made difficult by the fact that in places? Her clothing has dried and stuck to her. And in other places? There are puddles waiting to dump themselves . . . everywhere.
Maj is shivering uncontrollably. Partly from fear, and partly because the congealed horror of vomit that covers her? Is freezing cold.
There is so much barf.
I strip as well, and we both step into the shower.
And as soon as the warm water hits Maj’s face? She throws up again. Not so much substance this time, but it is horrible and slimey and all over my legs and feet.
We spend almost 45 minutes in the shower. Scooping and prying and wiping and scrubbing the vomit away. Plucking the largest chunks out of her hair with our fingers, and then shampooing and shampooing and shampooing and shampooing.
Maj is miserably unhappy, but she does not cry.
Shower drains? They are not made to deal with this stuff. I scoop and toss handfuls of drain-caught yuck into the nearby toilet as we go.
And then finally. Finally. She is clean.
I wrap her in a huge fluffy towel and sit her on the bathroom counter.
“If you have to barf again, be sure to lean over the sink, OK?”
I grab a large garbage bag and strip her bed. Gather her pillow, her stuffed animals, her pajamas. Stuff everything in a single Hefty bag and carry it out to the garage.
I will deal with that tomorrow.
Wash my hands in the garage sink.
Gather up a forlorn and sad-eyed Maj and bring her to bed with me.
In the guest room.
Mark is not the sort to welcome barf into the bedroom.
But me? I am Mom.
And sometimes barf comes with the territory.