The first time Isaiah ever had a stomach bug he was almost two. Maci was 3 months old and Darren worked swing shift - which quite honestly felt like he was barely home. Isaiah threw up all over the car on the way home from my parents' house, all over the car and car seat. We got home, changed, and he threw up all over the couch and floor.
Stay asleep, Maci, stay asleep is what I remember thinking while I scrubbed the car, floors, couch and literally cut off the car seat cover to throw it in the wash (Who in the name designs these car seats??? Certainly not mothers. A car seat pad/cover should be removable. Hello.) Then he threw up again, Maci woke up to nurse, and I cried. And I called my mom because that's what you do when you don't know what to do. I remember feeling alone, exhausted, and thinking maybe I'm not cut out to take care of babies. I am not qualified. I can't do it.
I was dreadfully surprised by the hardness of it and of the inadequacy and helplessness I felt.
Then something "crazy" happened. (And by crazy I mean not at all that crazy.) The days passed and he got well. And he's had plenty of stomach bugs since (I still hate them, by the way). What I've realized is this: it gets easier. There's nothing I hate more than when my babies are hurting or sick, no matter how young or old they are. However, the actual "dealing with it" part gets easier. Isaiah now knows when he's going to throw up and when he needs a bowl. He knows he needs plain toast and small sips of Gatorade. He knows he has to lay down and relax.
I wish I could go back to my new mom self and tell me I'd get better at handling puke; that I'd keep my anxiety in check, that I'd learn to let God simply be near in the midst of sickness; that I am capable and qualified to care for my kids. That I'm doing okay. Because it does get easier.
The first time Maci started wheezing, she was 5 months old. She hadn't even been alive half a year and she was struggling to breathe. I remember sitting in the doctor's office giving her a nebulizer treatment and thinking, Why did she have to inherit this from me? Babies should be able to breathe! The days (and months) that followed, I spent many days literally holding her in a headlock while she cried and screamed because she hated her nebulizer. It wasn't until she was over one that I could distract her with videos while giving her a treatment (right around the time she was officially diagnosed with asthma).
I felt like I was doing something wrong even though I knew so badly she needed to breathe and needed her medicine.
Then another "crazy" thing happened. It got easier. So much easier, that she now will ask for a treatment if she needs it (or her inhaler). She knows how to put the device together. She holds it properly while doing the treatment and she can usually even tell me when it's done. Together we got better. It got easier.
As I'm entering a second week of sickness for my babies, as I'm catching throw up in bowls, snuggling sick tummies, listening to wheezing, and looking at weird viral rashes on my sweet girl's pretty skin, I'm reminded of how far I've come. It's still hard. I still ache when they hurt. I still Google basically everything. I still hate watching my kids sick. But I'm better because of the grace of God. I worry less because I pray more. I'm more confident because I have sweet little voices telling me I'm doing a good job.
Just this morning Isaiah told me I'm precious and beautiful...and that I should be a doctor because I'm really good at taking care of sick people. As I type these words, Maci leaned over her throw up bowl to kiss my shoulder.
As mamas we do hard things. It's not fun or glamorous but it's a part of motherhood. We get better and it gets easier. Hallelujah.