Spit Up and You


Pictured above: a woman covered in spit up and a baby who is peacefully sleeping now that he has rid himself of all that excess milk.

My daughter never spit up. She THREW UP like twice when she was actually sick, and the first time was when she was 18 months. I didn’t know then how lucky I was to have a baby who didn’t spit up. After she would nurse, I could look lovingly down into her sleeping, milk drunk face and then put her in her bassinet and go back to sleep. Sometimes she woke up, sometimes she stayed asleep, but at least I never heard THE SOUND.

If you have/had a spit up baby (a SUB, if you will), knows The Sound. Sometimes it’s a cough, or a gurgle, or a wet sort of “blug”… but there is a special sound that SUB makes when they open the floodgates and puke sour milk all over themselves. You know it, because it’s the sound that your baby makes the instant your eyes start to close after a 4:00 am nursing session. It’s the sound that comes after an hour of unsuccessful burping when you’ve finally (stupidly) convinced yourself that he must not have to burp this time.  It’s the sound of another hour of lost sleep because now the PJs, the sheets, the swaddle etc all have to be changed.

All this, I would add, while your husband continues to breathe in an obnoxiously peaceful way as he sleeps on next to you, unaware of both your baby’s decision to bathe in sour milk, and your increasingly homicidal thoughts toward that sleeping husband because of his complete obliviousness. (Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe you all never feel this way at 4:00 am.  Maybe you are all much more patient than me.  If so, can you send me some of whatever drug you’re taking?)

So what does a mom do?

Well a good mom probably worries over her child.  Is this healthy?  Is he okay?  Is he poor little tummy upset?  Is he taking in enough milk?  A good mom probably whispers reassurances to the little one while bouncing/rocking said baby and grabbing new PJs.  A good mom probably hides her frustration (or doesn’t feel that frustration because, admittedly, the baby did not do this on purpose because he is, in fact, a baby).

I am not a good mom.

I curse under my breath.  Or out loud.  Usually out loud.  I wait to hear if he will actually settle in to sleep on top of or in the spit up that I KNOW is in the bassinet because heck, if it isn’t bothering him, why should it bother me?  If he settles, and I’m reasonably confident that he has not asphyxiated, I go to sleep.  If he won’t settle, I get up – usually still swearing – and drunkenly stumble over to the bassinet.  I check to see how much spit up there is.  I do a quick analysis in my head about how uncomfortable this amount of wetness on his onesie would be (it’s a complicated algorithm based on quantity of spit up and location of wetness) and, based on the outcome of that assessment, MIGHT change him.  If I think he needs a change, I usually am too lazy to put out all of the changing stuff in a way that actually protects my bed from future spit ups, and change him as quickly as I can.  This strategy has resulted in me sleeping on top of a towel on top of my sheets on top of another towel because of him consistently spitting up AGAIN while I’m changing him and because of my unwillingness to change my sheets.  If I decide he doesn’t need new pajamas, I bounce him around for a while, or burp him, or nurse him… usually while muttering “what do you waaaaannnnntttt” until he falls back asleep.

Here’s the thing.  When you’re waking up at 4:00 am for the third round of nursing in one night, you’re so tired I think you’re legally probably insane and all you can think about is going back to sleep and your head is bobbing up and down as you fight sleep.  If your baby doesn’t have reflux, you get to then put them back down wherever they sleep, but if you have a SUB, your job is only just starting.  Now, you have to put them on your shoulder, or chest, or knee, or wherever, and force a burp out of that kid.  You can’t put them down for another 20-30 minutes, technically.  I try to remember how long it’s been, or what time I started this whole thing, but I’m so tired I can’t keep track.  Most of the time, they still spit up – either while burping, or once you put them down – and then you have to go through the whole darn thing again half the time.

I’ve tried the 20 minutes.  I’ve cut out most dairy (but not brie.  NEVER brie.)  I’ve tried the elevated head thing.  I’ve burped.  I’ve pleaded.  I’ve chanted ancient incantations.  He has still spit up every time.  An incomplete list of the places he has spit up AFTER I have at least tried to help his reflux: my boobs, my shoulder, down my shirt, on my skirt/pants/socks/underwear (yes, underwear), in my hair, on my carpet, on my couch and, in one truly traumatizing experience, directly into my mouth.  With the exception of the mouth incident of 2017, I usually don’t even change.  I just sort of… wipe it off.  It’s just going to happen again and, frankly, with two kids in the mix, I already have enough laundry to do, thankyouverymuch.

Spit up sucks.  I have no tips except for burp cloths.  If you can steal those huge waterproof mats from the hospital and wallpaper, carpet, and linen your house in them, that’s the best option, I think.

If you have any awesome tips, let me know!  So far, my best one is just to get a nice room spray and use that shit on EVERYTHING.
The Mediocre Mom

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