7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 24): Joys of Boys, Breastfeeding in the Sistine Chapel, and… Vomit

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

Let’s just pretend you’re reading this on Friday evening (when it was written) rather than Saturday morning (when I finally posted it), alright?

—1—

Just as Jen said this morning that it was taking all of her effort not to write her entire 7QT about the FitBit, so it is taking all of my effort not to write my entire 7QT about vomit. Yes, that’s right, vomit.

Aren’t you lucky to be reading my post?

As anyone who’s been friends with me on Facebook for more than a few months will know, my primary parenting cross is vomit. It is not sleepless nights, it is not picky eaters, it is not stubbornly-unwilling potty-trainers. It is my boys’ copious and relentless opportunities to vomit all over the place.

And they’ve never even (until now?) had a stomach bug. They’re gaggers. They vomit because they’re gagging on food that is too big/crunchy/mushy/varied in texture/unpleasant in texture/generally undesirable. They vomit because they’re congested. They vomit because they’re carsick. They vomit because they’re upset.

They have vomited in bed, in the car, at the kitchen table, at restaurant tables, and in what feels like every room of our house. We have gone weeks at a time with at least one vomit episode per day. We have gone months at a time with at least one per week.

But fear not: tempted as I am, I will not burden you with an entire 7QT of vomit. I’ll just burden you with two Takes. If you’ve got a queasy stomach, jump down to Take number three.

—2—

My boys’ vomit no longer holds any power over me.

I discovered this last night, when my two-year-old vomited for the third time in less than 24 hours. (It’s still not clear whether the poor guy has a stomach bug or a respiratory thing.) I knelt next to him, catching what I could in my hands, and my stomach didn’t churn even one little bit. I am immune. I know the routine: catch vomit, call for older son to retrieve receptacle for vomit, clean me up, clean little guy up, clean the rug, wash vomity laundry. And it’s smart to wait on that last one a bit, because if somebody vomits once, they’re likely to do so again.

Last night couldn’t help but remind me of my hands-down, all-time, most frenetic evening of parenthood. It was a little over a year ago and even in my pre-blogging days, it made such an impression that I wrote it all down:

We had quite the busy little evening here. The idea was for Brennan and I to scarf down a quick carry-out dinner and then B would take care of the boys while I went to the grocery store. BUT we were thwarted.

As soon as we sit down for our sneaky attempt at eating, the little guy interrupts us. So we get him settled in his high chair. As we sit back down, Brennan knocks over a glass of water. We deal with the mess. As we sit back down, the big guy wakes up from his nap. I get him out of bed and then shovel down my (now cold) food. Then I finish my grocery list while Brennan tries to feed big guy (fail) and little guy (partial fail). I clean up half of little guy’s meal from the floor and run upstairs to throw in a load of laundry before I leave for the store. I come back down to the family room to find little guy throwing up all over the place (because he got hold of a piece of food too big for him) and big guy throwing up all over the place (because he’s watching little guy).

Brennan and I are shouting a confusing mix of “Go into the other room!” and “Don’t move!” at big guy, who runs over to look at little guy, throws up, runs away, hears little guy throw up again, and runs back to see what’s going on. Repeat. We end up in the kitchen to clean off the boys, where big guy throws up again. So, bathtime. I bathe the boys while Brennan cleans up the vomity family room and kitchen. Little guy pees in the water and then immediately scoops up the pee water with a cup and pours it onto the bath rug. We get the boys dry and dressed and I settle in the nursery to give little guy a bottle and get him to sleep. As soon as I lay the nearly-asleep baby in the crib, he starts to cough and then (of course) throw up again. Into my hands and onto his bedding, pajamas, and bumper. I call to Brennan for help. I deal with the crib; he deals with the baby. I go back downstairs in defeat. Four hours of nonstop activity and still no groceries.

—3—

That was fun, wasn’t it? Believe me, I’m a barrel of laughs right now.

There’s the fact that both of my boys are sick at the moment, there’s the sleep deficit that has been compounded by the boys’ sicknesses, there’s my own post-nasal drip that I just feel starting up, there are a couple of other things I’ll tell you about next week, and there’s my bruised-feeling arm from a shot I got on Wednesday.

I’m really not a big wimp when it comes to needles, especially during pregnancy. (I can put up with so much more when I’m doing it for someone else’s benefit.) But that darned TDaP shot! It hurts! Not so badly at first, but by the end of the day, I was in pain to the point of distraction, to the point of nausea. When Brennan came home, I pretty much turned everything over to him and told him that I wasn’t planning to lift my arm. I had to sit still, my arm stretched out at my side, perfectly immobile. It was all I could do to avoid the waves of pain that made me feel like I was going to lose it.

Yeah, I don’t have the highest pain tolerance.

Which makes me more than a little nervous about an appointment I’m to have next week. It’s for an anesthesiology consultation at the hospital where I’ll deliver the baby. They’re to review my records regarding the stupid herniated-disc-in-my-neck thing and decide whether I can have an epidural for this baby. (Note that I had epidurals for both of my previous deliveries, no problem.) I dread the docs telling me that this time, it’s off-limits. As Jenny so perfectly put it, when I get to the hospital, I want to be able to greet the staff with, “Hello, this is my third delivery, and I don’t want to feel anything but joy.”

—4—

Things I would rather do than deal with doctors’ offices / insurance companies / medical bills:

There are more, I’m sure.

—5—

When I wrote that boys-are-not-easy post a couple of weeks ago, I forgot to include a quick story that (like the others) illustrates my life with boys quite well:

It was the evening of St. Nicholas Day and my body had responded to the stress of having eighteen children aged four and under in my home that morning by flooding my head with pain. Not quite TDaP-level pain, but painful enough to make me pretty much useless in the parenting department.

I tried. I kept up the child-tending motions as long as I could. But there came a point when I simply sat down on the kitchen floor and let the pain wash over me. Not to be deterred by the sight of Mommy sitting on the middle of the kitchen floor with her eyes glazed over (indeed, they were probably intrigued), my boys, whose absolute favorite thing to do in the evenings is rough-house with their daddy, seemed to decide I was a good target.

So they ran directly at me and I did all I could think of to defend myself: I stuck out my arms and faced a palm at each of them in a silent “stop” gesture. They bounced right off my hands. And they thought. it. was. hilarious. So that’s how they occupied themselves – running at me, bouncing off my outstretched hands, falling onto the floor, and giggling like mad. Repeat. For quite a while.

The scenario perfectly represents how I feel about parenting boys on the hardest of days: they keep coming at you, again and again. And they take delight in doing so, even when all you can muster is a simple, feeble attempt at basic defense.

—6—

Goodness, I’m cheery today, aren’t I? Let’s brighten it up for the last two takes.

Sometimes, when I watch my boys play together, I wince at the little reflections of myself I see in them, bossing each other around with shouts of “No!” or “Dat makes me vewwy unhappy!” But lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of my love and encouragement reflected in their play too. I see lots and lots of hugs amidst the wrestling. I hear lots of “I wuv you.” and “You are so cute, Jude.” And “Good job!” and “Dat’s a gweat idea!” My favorites are my three-year-old’s sighs of, “I sink Jude wuvs me… (smile) I wuv you, too, Jude.” And this one, from last weekend, was the absolute best:

3yo: “I sink Jude wuvs me.”
Grandpa: “And do you love Jude?”
3yo: “Yes. I don’t want him to be taken by a wobot.”

20140101_165640

—7—

I’m fading fast, so I’m going to make this last one actually quick, as opposed to my usual faux quick. Maybe I’ll revisit this topic later to stuff in all the commentary I’d planned to include here.

Anyway. You’ve seen all the headlines lately about Pope Francis encouraging women to breastfeed their hungry babies in the Sistine Chapel, right? Well, Brianna Heldt had a great post this week on when she breastfed her own baby in the Sistine Chapel, in the days of Benedict XVI. Here’s an excerpt. Be sure to click here to read the whole thing.

[I]n a last-ditch attempt to soothe my poor child and avoid Vatican employee ire, I darted towards what I hoped would be a nondescript corner and pulled out my trusty nursing cover.  “Pleeeeeeeease, God, don’t let the guards see me!,” I prayed, since I was breaking the whole “no sitting allowed” rule, not to mention breastfeeding an 18-month-old in, you know, the Sistine Chapel, which I reckoned was also off-limits.  People can be touchy about that sort of thing.

And wouldn’t you know it, not long after I began nursing, two guards made a beeline for me.  Like a really direct, obvious, can’t-get-there-fast-enough beeline.  Obviously they had some sort of superhuman ability to detect sneaky rule-breaking, noisy babies and distressed, humiliated, perspiring mothers.  Here it is.  I’m about to get kicked out of the Sistine Chapel for breastfeeding a screaming baby.  International incident, anyone?

Then the guards bent down with wild gestures and earnest words that I couldn’t quite make out, and so I stood up and fixed my shirt and clutched my baby and averted eye contact, all while imagining Pope Benedict XVI’s stern head shaking and tsk tsking when he was briefed that evening about this most horrible breach of Official Catholic Etiquette by Non Catholic People, in the Sistine Chapel of all places.

But no, the guards were actually gesturing me and my husband in the opposite direction of the exit.  Ohmygoodness, are they hauling us into some sort of Vatican office?  Are we going to be fined?  Yelled at?  But no, they were unroping a cordoned-off area, up at the front.  Where tourists aren’t allowed to go.  And then they began pointing and, well, pretty much forcing us to sit on the bench.

They weren’t asking me to leave.

They weren’t shushing my baby.

They weren’t appalled that the American lady was doing something so banal as breastfeeding a child, amidst the world’s most magnificent masterpieces.

No, they weren’t doing any of those things.

They simply weren’t going to permit a mother to breastfeed her baby on the floor.

So there my weary and disheveled little family sat, in a part of the chapel not typically accessible to the public.  Up by the altar.  We got to enjoy the art and the beauty from what was arguably the best seat in the house, at our own leisure, and with the knowledge that we were welcome there.  We experienced a reprieve from what had been an exhausting several days (that had incidentally included meeting the girls who would become our two new daughters, and all of the respective birth mothers of our adopted children–emotional overload much?).

See it appeared that in spite of all the people incredulous that an uncivilized 18-month-old dared be present on their tour of St. Peter’s, well, the Vatican and presumably Pope Benedict XVI thought otherwise.  And I will never, ever forget that.  Incidentally Mary had transformed into a calm and happy child sitting there on the special bench, and rarely have I felt such peace as I did in those moments, gazing at the ceiling and the colors and the gold with my husband and little girl.

And it’s funny because my fear and hand-wringing and the entire global village of tourists hates us and our baby! were, in the end, 100% unfounded and inconsequential.  Well except for the part about all the people hating us, because they really kind of did.  But that didn’t much matter in the end, and do you know why?

Because The Powers That Be around there, aka those belonging to and representing Jesus’ Church, have this upside-down idea that human beings are created with dignity, that motherhood is a high calling and important vocation, and that Jesus welcomes–especially welcomes–”the least of these”, be it a fussy baby, exhausted mother or all of the above.

G’night, all! Happy weekend! And don’t forget to head on over to Jen’s to check out the rest of the Quick Takes.

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