I'd heard about such kids. Tall tales of children that, when agitated, used their mutant powers of regurgitated food to silence their enemies. Toddlers with unflinching focus, determination, and sour milk resources. Little ones that leave you in such a state of shock, you are left questioning everything you thought you knew about parenting. I never thought I'd have such a child.
And, then there was J. Ladies and gentlemen, we've got a puker.
Jack has never been a great sleeper. I take that back. He was a GREAT sleeper for the first six months of his life. I remember dropping to my knees and praising the heavens above for giving me a baby that slept through the night after two months. Little did I know that it was the cruelest of all cruel jokes the powers-that-be could play on a sleep-deprived mother who had just gotten a taste of nocturnal bliss.
Just about the time he hit six months, the night wakings began. Instead of taking the bull by the horns and teaching him to put himself back to sleep (a la Ferber), we caved. Not sure what it is about that second kid, but you're just not as...regimented. Oh yeah, I remember why now...it's that you're TIRED AS SHIT.
Our mode to get little J to count sheep and get friendly with the man in the moon? The Bottle. Initially, I didn't see that bottle as a crutch. I saw it as a mechanism for survival. My survival. Worked like a charm every time. Sucked down that bottle in the middle of the night and slept the rest of the way through.
I knew one day it would have to stop, but I pushed those unpleasant thoughts to the back of my mind. Then the day came. Exhausted from waking up every night for over a year, I declared to T one evening, "No more! Tonight, is the beginning of a new day. The boy WILL SLEEP!" (My husband has heard enough of these types of I'm-mad-as-hell-and-I'm-not-going-to-take-it-anymore declarations that he simply humors me with a nod and a thumbs up like we're about to partake in some sporting event.)
We'd done it once before with M so it's not like what we were to embark upon was reinventing the wheel. We knew what we had to do. We just had to strap on our balls and...do it. And, I had a plan. You'd think I was mapping out tactics for crossing enemy lines during World War II. I set the plan in motion.
That night, we put him to sleep as usual. And as usual, around midnight, he woke up. Instead of popping that bottle in his mouth, though, I went in and rubbed him, kissed him and bid him adieu.
Kid. Went. Ballistic.
I lay down in bed and looked at the clock -- 12:16 a.m. I'd give him five minutes and then go back in to give him a follow-up rub and kiss. The plan was to keep this up until he passed out, extending the re-entry time 5, 10, 20, 30 minutes. Torture for a few nights, but it's a proven method in this house -- worked wonders with our first.
Well, I think we got three minutes into it when I started to hear some gagging. I jolted out of bed and sprinted into his room. In slow motion, I opened the door. "Noooooo!" I yelled in that creepy, deep slow-motion voice. Too late. The vomit came at me like acid. I half expected his head to start spinning around. With my jaw on the floor, I watched as the projectile puke liquid shot out and then down, landing on the floor with a loud "splat." My mouth still open, I shook my head, ran over to the baby and scooped him up.
He immediately stopped crying and starts talking to me. "Ah goo da doo na mee fa foo," he gurgled sweetly. And then, he did the unspeakable. He smiled. I can't effing believe it. The kid is GOOD.
I'm shaken to the core and it takes me another three months to even consider letting him cry again. When I finally do, my fears are reinforced by Vomit Boy who does exactly the same thing he did that first night. I don't have the stomach (no pun intended) for THIS.
I have read some online discussions on how to handle trial by vomiting. Some folks just suggest walking in, with no reaction, cleaning up the mess, kissing the kid goodnight and quickly exiting. I don't know if I'm capable of staring straight into the eyes of vomit without any sort of reaction. But, I'm ready to give it a whirl.
My kid is 18 months old now. I am strong. I am ready. I am sleepy. Bring the puke on.
Stay tuned for upcoming battles between the powerful and noxious Puke Boy and the sleepy, but determined, Mommy.