I haven’t slept for two nights and everything is covered in vomit. Our washing machine has never worked so hard in its life. We’re in norovirus hell.
I haven’t slept for two nights and everything is covered in a thin film of vomit. I am never not holding a child, and our washing machine has never worked so hard in its life. That’s right, we’re in norovirus hell.
This is the first trip to norovirus hell for our household of four – me, my husband, our four-year-old daughter and our two-year-old son. We’ve had most of the other things on the nursery-illness menu over the past year: endless flus and colds, chicken pox, and of course covid. But we’d somehow evaded the highly contagious stomach bug, which is notorious amongst parents.
My daughter started throwing up on the eve of the coronation and got progressively worse over the next 12 hours – she and I spent the rainy coronation morning at our local hospital because she was getting worryingly dehydrated. Now, four days later, my son has it too. At times he’s been vomiting once an hour, even overnight.
Needless to say, the whole thing is tiring and gross. We quickly reach the point where there are no clean towels, sheets, or muslins left in the house, despite the washing machine constantly running on a quick cycle. My son is too young to understand what’s happening and he screams as we try to angle his face towards the toilet while he’s throwing up, instead of, you know, directly at us.
In the midst of all this, my husband and I are still working (as much as possible). We both work mostly from home, so we adopt our usual shift system for kids’ illnesses: half a day of work each, half a day of childcare each, and working in the evening to make up our hours. My husband has to go to London for one day but luckily my mum is free to help.
My mum has a fluid approach to time and a steadfast devotion to South Indian food. She tells me that the best thing for a stomach bug is rice with dhal and rasam (a tomato and tamarind soup-like dish). I’m pretty sure she would prescribe this for any ailment and I explain that the kids aren’t even keeping sips of water down. Curry is a long shot.
Don’t trouble yourself with cooking, I say, I just need you here at 10am so I can work. She arrives at 10.30am with some rasam. I sigh and put it in the freezer when she isn’t looking.
This is all just about manageable – just about – as long as neither my husband nor I get ill ourselves this week.
Luckily, since having children, I rarely get ill. I’m sure it’s largely because my lifestyle has changed so much. During the four-year block in which I was either pregnant or breastfeeding, I lost the taste for alcohol and coffee and never went back to them. And I’m more physically active these days, as I’ve gone part-time in my desk-based job.
But I sometimes wonder if, on some level, it’s because my body knows that I can’t really afford to get ill. I’m the one who looks after everyone else – who would look after me? I, of course, know that bodies don’t work like that. And I also know that my husband would look after me (while frowning at Teams on his phone). But sometimes I just, you know, wonder.
As the days pass, we slowly emerge from the depths of norovirus hell. The kids are back at nursery today and the floors have been mopped. I might defrost the rasam for dinner tonight.
Thanks mum xx
** This blog is part of a series called The Chaos Train, a record of daily life when you have a career and pre-school children **