The long road


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

When it rains, it pours.
We’re in our third week now with one or more of the kids sick, and we’re not sure when we’re gonna be clear of it.
It started Halloween weekend. That Saturday was meant to see us at a wedding, but instead we were bringing Frankie and Séimí to the doctor on call.
Frankie got the all clear, but Séimí had tonsillitis so was put on a course of antibiotics.
Frankie missed a day of school two days later – and trick or treating on Halloween night. (We deferred her door-to-door rounds by two days, until she was feeling better, so at least she still got to dress up!)
But it’s another matter entirely when the baby is sick. They’re not as strong to fight it to begin with, and crucially, they don’t sleep too well when under the weather, which means neither do you!
It’ll only be for a few days, you assure yourself. Except, sometimes, it is not.
The following Friday, Frankie became ill. We had started that day with a weight lifted off our shoulders, as all three kids togged that morning fit and well. Normality was returning.
Except, of course, it wasn’t. Tricks were being played with our minds. Again.
Frankie vomited as soon as she came in the door that evening. Then Séimí’s form started to turn too.
That Friday night at 4am, Frankie got sick again. Not wanting to leave her on her own, Séimí decided that it would be a good time to get up too.
So, for the second time that week, myself and Aisling were up at the unholy hour of 4am.  The only time you’d normally see that time of day, aside from a night out, is on the way to an early flight. And that was a tempting thought right then. I had time booked off work and all!
Frankie’s form was good though, and we succeeded in keeping her away from her two younger brothers. Trust me, this had both myself and Aisling on guard. One vomiting is bad, but three doesn’t bear thinking about.
Another Saturday party, this time for Aisling’s dad’s 80th, was foregone. Instead of dining out, Frankie carefully ate dry toast.
But she was back to herself on the Sunday. With over 48 hours having passed since she got sick, and with no other symptoms, off she went to school on the Monday.
Unfortunately, she got sick there, and we had to bring her home. This was not a 24- or 48-hour vomiting bug but something else. A trip to the doctor led to a diagnosis of an RS virus (yup, I went to Google too) and a prognosis that it can last for weeks. It’s doing the rounds in Achill, it seems. Several of Frankie’s class have been off with it too.
She vomited a few times after that, including during the night. The challenge was to get her to do it in a bowl. She’d succeed most of the time, but her bed got a right doing one night too.
She was a trooper though, telling Éamon to stay away if he ventured near her and doing everything we asked of her.
But then, just hours after Frankie got sick for the last time, Éamon took over and started his five-day course of vomiting. It was like she had passed the baton on smoothly.
It has been harder to explain to him about the need to stay away from Séimí, who has still, at time of writing on Monday morning, stayed healthy.
It’s a waiting game now. You hope for the best and expect the worst.

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.