There was broccoli in her vomit. That's what I thought as I gingerly stepped past it holding my baby to my chest. She'd calmed, but her tear streaked face was still red from screaming. She'd only lasted five minutes before vomiting on a childcare worker prompting them to come get me.
It has become our norm. Well, not the vomiting part - that is an intermittent bonus. My youngest daughter will not let me leave her sight. Period. She loses her mind. It doesn't matter if it's in my home, at my church or with her Grandma.
She wails as though life itself is ending. I can hear her before the nursery workers arrive in my MOPS meeting to let me know it's "just not working out today." I hear her as I walk down the hall hoping she'll relax and enjoy all the toys she loves so much when I stay in there with her.
This didn't happen with my first two. Vivianne was cooing and loving the attention she received by anyone working in the nursery. Evelynne is a little more shy, but she also – being quite a fan of play dough- gets right in there. But, Annaliese – she starts holding on tight before we even enter the room.
And now she's started gagging herself. The first time it happened was a month or so ago. I thought she'd just worked herself up or eaten something that didn't agree with her. The childcare attendant was nice about it as she cleaned vomit splatter off her jeans. I calmed Annie down and sat with her in the adjacent cry-room. By the end of the hour she was walking back and forth between the two rooms perfectly happy as long as she could get back to me.
This has almost happened to our babysitter, but she caught it in time. I even noticed her doing it to me one night when she got mad. So, I've had this thought: is my 16-month-old calculating enough to use this against me?
Whether it's possible manipulation or just very real panic, her behavior leaves me feeling trapped. I've left church and/or MOPS meetings wondering why I even go. Why bother if I'm just going to be following after my toddling daughter the whole time?
I remember brushing my oldest daughter's teeth when she was nearly 3-years-old. She was giving me the hardest time one night, biting the tooth brush, closing her mouth so finally I asked why she was fighting me. She said, "Because I don't have much power."
Perhaps Annie is reaching for her power? I mean she's already won – a couple of times now. She gags herself and sees the adults come running. After Googling "toddlers that gag themselves" I see that I'm not the only mom with a baby who's learned this skill. Some suggest putting vinegar on to their finger tips, some say it's just a phase.
Either way a I believe a power struggle is on and I'm not sure who's going to win. Annie is a force to be reckoned with. She tortures me with lack of sleep and this is not the first time we've dealt with so, so much vomit. In my weakened state the words of my daughter seem to ring true, "I don't have much power."
Photos: Kelly Wilbanks, Tré Wilbanks, Katie Bryant
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