'Changing soiled sheets, wiping tears, sleeping on a hard floor': What it is like caring for sick triplets
I had just returned home from a trip to Barcelona with my friends (before the pandemic) when my husband burst my jolly holiday bubble. As we creep along the M50, stuck in rush hour traffic on the way home, my partner looks at me like he’s just come back from Glastonbury after a five days. He’s green and his next words are …
“I think I need to be sick”
So, there we are. On the lay-by of the busiest road in Dublin, possibly Northern Europe right now, and my partner is getting sick. My little daughter is at home with her granny getting sick and one of the boys is now retching in his seat in the back of the car. It’s an epidemic. Well for me it is. I take over driving the car. We arrive home at six that evening, and I immediately send Daddy to his sick bed.
It is therefore, now up to me, the lone ranger, to take control of this situation. To be fair they were rather easy to get down that evening, as they were all under the weather. At this stage I’ve decided that I will sleep on my daughter’s bedroom floor, as I’m quite worried about her.
So, by the time I build a makeshift flattened hareem of old duvets and sheets (to give some semblance of comfort), one of my little boys has already vomited all over his cot. It’s in his eyes, his hair, his bedsheets, the walls, and he’s still asleep, bless him. If I’m honest my heart is sinking at this stage. It’s so awful looking at your children being sick. But all the while you have to remind yourself, its ok, it’s only a tummy bug. With my partner being ill, it gave me a brief insight into how single parenthood must feel, and I have the world of respect for those who live it. Although it may have only been a tummy bug, it was a real struggle. With all three dropping like flies, plus the added bonus of my partner taking ill, I was in the doldrums. It is one of the first times since the babies were born that all three were sick at the same time.
Routine goes down the toilet, much like every other bodily fluid that week. It was a low moment when I was running from one bedroom to the other to hold them up, wipe their brow and change their sheets. I was demented for a short time. You toss and turn all night because part of you wants to stay awake to see if your children are ok. The other part of you knows you have to go to sleep to be on top form to try and mind your young children and your sick partner the following day. It was certainly a welcome back I hadn’t anticipated, but in saying that, the following day the children rallied around somewhat.
Daddy was still ill, but the children had a bit more life in them. It was a quiet victory to see them laughing and playing again. And of course, upending all the toy boxes and generally just destroying the house. The 24-hour bug thankfully does what it says on the tin, it slips off after 24 hours. So, I was delighted to see them tearing down the house again. With the likes of a tummy bug it was important for me to keep their fluids up. But that’s tricky when they have no desire to ingest anything. So, I diluted a re-hydration solution with some orange juice and plenty of water and just dropped mouthfuls into their little mouths.
I have to say being a mother has been one of the most incredibly challenging, yet incredibly joy filled experiences to date. As you get to know your baby better, you can’t imagine what you did before them. It’s epically life-changing. And even though weeks like this completely floor you, you absolutely wouldn’t change it for a thing. You feel destined to be that warrior at three in the morning changing soiled sheets, wiping tears, sleeping on a hard floor, sacrificing your own sleep to keep the ship afloat. It’s a de-railing, yet bizarrely grounding experience. You’ve found your tribe and they are your life focus now. For a minute I was fearing my break away was a complete disaster, but things picked back up again quite quickly. Children are just so resilient. I find times like this are also a stark reminder of the good days, and how to appreciate those beautiful moments during the good days, that we otherwise take for granted.