It's not his first one, but it's the one with the most intense symptoms so far. He spends his days alternating between happy playtime, and furious nose-rubbing accompanied by whines of discomfort and frustration. The face-rubbing usually results in a sticky sheen of nastiness coating his cheeks and eyebrows, and the only thing that pisses him off more than having a runny nose is having his runny nose wiped. For a while, I was trying to wipe up every little appearance of glistening moisture, until I realized that his little sniffer was getting red and sore. Now, I clean him up only when I hear him smacking his lips as if he's actually tasting the river of slime that pours down his upper lip. Then, or when he moves toward the upholstered furniture. (Call me crazy, but I prefer my sofa uncrusted.)
As if the downpour wasn't bad enough, I can hear the congestion rattling around in his sinuses when he breathes, a fact that must be distinctly uncomfortable for someone who doesn't yet have the coordination to blow his nose or clear his throat. When he nurses, I can make out the sound of a phlegm-coated epiglottis closing and opening as he swallows, and I find myself clearing my throat reflexively, hoping it'll inspire him to give it a try. (So far, no dice.)
One of the unfortunate side effects of all that drainage is, I assume, nausea -- if today's mealtime was any indication. Boy loves squash, and we were wrapping up a delicious serving of his favorite veggie when ... GACK. There it was -- the gag that says, "Um, that's about enough." Normally I stop there and all's good -- he gets a sip of water, and it's over. Just as I was reaching for the sippy cup, though, I heard another sound -- that particularly deep belch that precedes a laundry load in the making. And there it was -- three and a half ounces of pureed and now partially digested squash, on boy's bib, clothes, high chair, arm, leg, the tile floor, and my beige sweater.
Where do you start, when there's a dazed baby staring at you coated in his own lunch? Which he'd already eaten? You want to clean up his face first, but he's waving a squash-colored arm at you and flapping it frantically as if to say, "eeeeeeuuuuuu, this is waaaaaaarm," so you attack the arm, but now he's rubbing his eyes and the squash on his bib has found its way into his hair. You're worried about the squash on the grout of the tile floor (will it stain?), you're wondering whether he got squash on the nylon high chair straps which your mother JUST cleaned when she visited (he did), and you're trying to remember how to detach the high chair seat cover and what the washing instructions are (undo the velcro tabs at each corner, and wash in cold, tumble dry low).
So you dab, and you scoop, and you mop and you change and you add stain remover and you start a load in the washer. And you realize all of a sudden that though you have always been squeamish around vomit (you were the one who had to leave the room when even the Fear Factor commercial came on TV, and the one who always gets irritated when someone on MTV is hung over and getting sick on camera), you just managed to deal with three-and-a-half-ounces of spread-around regurgitated squash without once thinking it was gross.
You, my friend, are officially a mother.