With two young children the nights can be long, so very, very long. Spinoff Parents editor Emily Writes writes about one marathon night among many.
The night shift started with an attempt to write something and ignore the pitter patter of feet on the stairs. I knew they belonged to my four-year-old. He knew he was meant to be in bed.
He poked his head around the top of the stairs and said “Oh…hi mama!” as if he was thinking: Fancy seeing you here! “You’re meant to be in bed,” I told him. He insisted “Deddy” said he could stay up “for how ever I want, maybe even all night acshully!”
I picked up my phone and said “Oh shall we ask Daddy?” to which he replied “Oh no, bedder not, it’s our secret maybe?”
Of course. So we sat together and I made attempts to write and he sighed theatrically because I wouldn’t let him watch TV and he was “VEWY BORED!” over and over again until losing the will to live I said fine.
Fine, fine, fine – I gave up all efforts at productivity and scooped him up and carried him downstairs. “Maybe just sleep in bed with me because we’re best friends” he said. So I lay down next to him and fell asleep within 3.2 seconds and I assume he did too because I didn’t wake up until my husband yelled “PUKE” from the baby’s room.
I was so disorientated to wake up in a bunk that I immediately nailed myself on the roof of the bed. Then I stepped onto Duplo which was at least not Lego, not-so-silently cursing that I hadn’t made more of an effort to get my oldest to clean his room. But his idea of cleaning is just to pull more shit out and not put away all of the other shit.
I turned the light on in the baby’s room to see my husband catching spew in his hand. I was still waking up so it took me a second to grab a towel as the vomit dripped through his fingers. I scooped up the baby and pulled off his top which was now covered in puke. My husband’s back gave out as he tried to get up from the slippery vomit-covered bed. He lay groaning in the sick as the baby began to giggle. A sleepy Eddie turned up at the door – “Why’d you do sick out your mouf?” he asked me.
I tried to dress the baby who was now farting with increasing intensity.
“I’m worried he’s going to shit everywhere so just – I’m going to re-do his nappy now” I said to my husband who was face down on the mattress and not really able to contribute other than to make increasingly desperate I’m-in-pain noises. Eddie climbed onto his father’s back “Your becks OK deddy?”
“Get off and go back to sleep right now” I said as I changed the baby’s nappy. “Maybe I will do all I want” he said – chin jutting out – before resting his head on his father’s hunched back. Despite puking a HUGE AMOUNT the baby was wriggling and refusing to stay still.
“BED” I said in my sternest I’m Your Mother voice.
“I can’t – there’s a poo in my bed”
WHAT? DID YOU POO IN YOUR BED? YOU DID NOT POO IN YOUR BED YOU DID NOT I hissed at him as the baby laughed.
The bigger baby laughed too. “I did a trick!” WHAT TRICK! I said. DID YOU POO IN YOUR BED??? “No, I trick you!” The baby laughed. I heard my husband’s muffled laugh from the bed. The baby farted. My oldest tried to match his fart then rushed to the toilet.
“It’s like 3am or something can everyone just stop and-”
The baby vomited again.
I cleaned the baby up again.
I put a blanket over my broken husband after helping him into our bed.
I put the four-year-old back in the bed (after checking there was no poo).
And I climbed into the baby’s bed with the baby.
The baby wrapped his sticky and hot arms around me and gave me a wet kiss. He slobbered over my cheeks then fell asleep, his face inches from mine.
The room smelled like vomit.
The vomit looked like porridge.
And I suddenly I realised I was hungry.
Then I wondered just how desensitised I was to vomit that the sight of it didn’t make me wretch but instead made me wonder what I’d have for breakfast.
I hope I don’t get sick, I thought to myself as the baby curled into me, trying to get under my skin. He was close enough to give me mouth to mouth.
Immediately my brain went into overdrive:
Was I going to get sick? I felt my tummy rumble. Oh there it is. I’m going to get sick. I’m going to have to cancel the book event. What if I don’t cancel and everyone gets the shits? It feels like the same nausea that I had when I was pregnant. Ugh I hated being pregnant. Oh god what if I’m pregnant. There’s no way I’m pregnant. There’s no way. But contraception fails right? No but I definitely can’t be. What if I’m one of those women who just has a baby on the toilet? I don’t want a toilet baby. I mean I don’t want another baby let alone a toilet baby that I have no stuff for. I mean I’m sure I’d work it out and it would be fine. I mean I love babies. I mean my babies are adorable and the baby is sleeping slightly better and I mean he did just puke all through the bed but I mean they’re so beautiful when they’re sleeping. God what is wrong with me? Do I want another child? No, I do not. But they’re gorgeous. And if I just accidentally had a toilet baby because I was one of those 10% of women that spontaneously has a contraceptive failure then I would love my toilet baby. And I could totally have three kids I mean by the time the third was born my first two would be sleeping through the night. I know that I thought this with my second and I ended up not sleeping for four years but I mean what’s another few months right? Everything could change. I could love a toilet baby.
A gentle fart scattered my thoughts. The baby stretched out across the bed, his puku still round despite the chundering session.
Please don’t let me get gastro, I thought. Please don’t let me puke during a reading. Please don’t let me give new mums the shits. Puking or shitting myself on camera was one of my greatest fears about doing media. Oh my god what if I shit myself during a reading? Why was I laying in a bed marinated in baby vom? If he puked again I’d hear from the other room wouldn’t I? No, it was safer to stay in here, just in case.
The baby tested out some of his favourite co-sleeping positions:
The Who Put This Fucking Plank Here: Ram-rod straight in the middle of the bed. Horizontal. I can move him in this position and it’s like he’s levitating.
The Donald Trump: He kicks me in the face and then just as I’m starting to recover from being kicked in the face he kicks me in the face again.
The #blessed: He leaks out his nappy in the middle of the bed.
The Tarantino: When he tries to get both of his feet into my mouth.
The NZ Family First: When he farts in a continuous stream until he wakes himself up shitting.
Eventually I am forced to lay against the wall with his feet in the small of my back. But there is no more vomit so I am at peace. I drift off and have a terrifying dream about Kiefer Sutherland riding a killer whale.
I wake up to a little voice. It’s 5am.
‘Can I pee on him like on the holidays?” the four-year-old asks. His hair is messy and his eyes tired.
“No, that was a special occasion. You can only pee on someone if they’ve been stung by a jellyfish”.
I decide not to get into other reasons for peeing on someone.
He looks at me with sad eyes.
“One day can I do wees on my brover again?”
“Maybe. I just. It’s super early in the morning OK”
“Anything can happen you said when we have dreams”
Yeah OK. I did say that but I was hoping you’d strive for more than just like pissing on your brother again.
“Why is your face like that” he says.
“You and your brother made my face like this”
He climbs onto my chest and smooths my brow.
“Your face is my favourite one”
This content is entirely funded by Flick, New Zealand’s fairest power deal. In the past year, their customers saved $417 on average, which would buy enough nappies for months… and months. Please support us by switching to them right now.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.