Monday, February 28, 2011

Parenting 101: The Cheat's Guide To Vomit

Since becoming a mummy nearly five years ago, I have cleaned up many different types of vomit (usually not my own). And I must say, vomit does not bother me as much as it used to...but I attribute this laissez-faire attitude to the fact that my senses have been dulled by over-exposure. And I figured that I may as well put this experience to good use, especially since over the last week my spew-cleaning abilities have been given a little rev-up. If you don't learn anything from this today, well...I hope you at least get a giggle at my expense.

Before I continue, I would like to dedicate this post to my three little team members, Jack, Phoebe and Maisie Mouse, for without their vomit this post would not exist. An honourable mention must go to two of my furry children, Ernie and Bella, for providing occasional cat-relief. And a huge thank you to my other furry child, Daisy, who has not vomited for years, and my husband, whose vomit is not my responsibility!

Cleaning Up Vomit: The Basics

1. Milky possets

Very little babies tend to 'posset' a lot - in other words, they bring up little burps of milk after they have been fed. Some babies posset a tiny bit with their wind, others posset continously from the end of one feed to the beginning of the next, and others (drum roll for my children, please) exchange the word 'posset' for the term 'projectile', and cover all nearby objects with a deluge of milk immediately after a feed, leaving the mother in question wondering if any milk was digested at all.

Possets are pretty harmless and usually only require a cloth to catch them, or a bib to wipe the chin. If your baby washes the couch and your clothes with a wave of undigested milk, make a solution of Napisan and use a square cloth nappy to scrub away the vommy before it sets hard. Or your grandma sits in it accidently when she pops in for a cuppa. After a few months of projectiles, your couch can easily be covered by a throw, or a blanket, or a tarp. Or perhaps you should just do this in the first place.

2. Proper projectiles

When your baby is a few months old and is drinking greater volumes of milk, the potential for projectiles increases exponentially. If, like my children, your baby projectiles on a regular basis, you may find yourself being the recipient of the flood of milk (as it is usually the mummies who are holding the wailing babies just before the reason for their discomfort explodes out of their little tummies). When the vomit hits your forehead, ricochets off your head, sploshes down your decolletage and pools warmly in between the cups of your bra, there is only one way to deal with the mess. Hand the baby to your husband / partner / whomever is handy and nearby / a passing stranger, and waddle to the bathroom. Strip immediately, and shower - you'll need to wash your hair if the smell is to leave you completely. Soak your vomitty clothes in water over night, and wash in Napisan the next day. Train your husband  / partner / whomever to make a solution of Napisan and scrub the carpet while you are having a shower. This means that when you emerge, smelling sweet and vaguely refreshed after an unexpected 10 minutes of solitude in the shower, your baby will be clean, and the spewy splashes on the wall, floor, etc., will be taken care of. And if your partner thinks they got the rough end of the stick, let them be the one on the receiving end of the projectile next time. They'll never complain again!

3. Chunky child's vomit

Definitely the most heinous of all the vomit categories. When your child is eating proper food and they blow chunks, it's a job that simply needs to be tackled head-on. Left alone, it only gets worse as time goes on - smellier, harder to scrub out, and the potential for staining is very high. When there's gastro in your house, as there has been in mine this week, you need to clean up each vommy immediately if only because the next one could be only minutes away. In this instance, towels are your friend. As is Pine-O-Cleen, a washing machine, and a sturdy clothes line. Last night, when Jack spewed all over himself, his sheets, his doona, his pillow, his teddies, and then left a trail of vomit on the walls, floor and my bed trying to find me in the dark at midnight, the plan of attack went thus:
* strip wailing child in bathroom, sponge down and calm, find new clean pyjamas and administer hugs and drinks of water
* strip bed, making sure that vomit chunks are contained within the bedding and that other children are not woken by spewy activity
* throw soiled bedding into the bath and fill with water, preferably with a dash of Pine-O-Cleen or some sort of disinfectant
* go back and pick up all the bits of vomit that have dropped on the floor from the carrying of bed linen through the house
* use a solution of Napisan to scrub the carpet and clean the walls; if this is impossible because it is the middle of the night and you can't turn a light on, cover the floor with towels and return to this task in the morning
* make temporary bed on the floor in your bedroom for your child, making sure there are plenty of towels spread out, and a bowl placed strategically near their pale little face
* lie awake all night, waiting for the impending retching and splashing noises, while the stench of vomit fills your nostrils and spreads throughout the house
* in the morning, remove each article from the bath individually, scrape the pieces of undigested food from each sheet / doona / pillow / teddy, rinse, wash in the machine, and possibly wash again when one wash just won't do the job.
* empty the vomit-encrusted bath and wash with disinfectant. Splash some up your nose to be thorough.
* hang out what feels like the entire contents of the linen cupboard; be environmentally unsustainable and use your dryer for the rest
* re-make your child's bed and wait for them to repeat the cycle

You may find, after a night like this, that your appetite has been magically repressed. Don't despair - this is not your own bout of gastro announcing it's arrival, but rather an unexpected bonus. Who needs Weight Watchers when you've got a kid with gastro? It's free, you burn calories simply by scrubbing the carpet, and if all of your kids get it in turn, that's potentially a few weeks of eating next to nothing! Now that's what I call a glass half-full!

I don't really feel like adding cat vomit to the list at this point in time; to be honest, I'm still recuperating from the festival of the laundry that occurred in our house today. On the up side, Jack is so much better that he is jumping out of his skin and can't wait for school tomorrow. Phoebe had her turn blowing chunks last week, which only leaves the Mouse...and me. I simply will not allow Maisie to get sick - it's untenable, and I will not have it!!! I won't, I tell you!!! And as far as I'm concerned, well, I just don't have time to get sick. I've looked in my diary and I could possibly fit it in around June 2013. If I juggled a few things. So you won't be hearing tips on cleaning up your own vomit from me any time soon!


Nick and Kelly Robbe said...

Love this! I just got the "splash" empty the entire contents of your stomach the other night. He wasn't sick, just a bubble of air stuck under the current feed. It was lovely, but completely undigested milk, so not too bad! It's the chunky, curdled stuff that gets me, as I already have a slight spoiled milk phobia!

But I need to know what is Napisan? How do you make it? Is it similar to Oxyclean?

PS. I want 3 kids too and you are SO giving me all the tools I need to make it work. :)

Salamander said...

Oh Kelly, you crack me up!! You gotta love a 'splash'!! Poor Teddy.
Napisan is a laundry product here- it's a stain removal product that comes both as a powder and a liquid. You can add it to your washing machine to remove stains in the wash, or you can put it directly on stained clothing if it's really stubborn. It's magic stuff, honestly!!! I don;t know what Oxyclean is, but it's probably similar. Come to Australia and I'll show you!! xxx

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

What an incredibly useful post! I'm going to print it out and put it on the fridge for the next vomity disaster!

Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro.