When Boo-Boo was first born, I started reading blogs and books that talked about milestones like when he might first sit up or when he might crawl. Family, friends, and perfect strangers would ask about milestones. Is he crawling? Is he eating solids? Does he sleep through the night?
But nobody ever talked about the decidedly un-fun milestone of the first stomach bug. The first time he truly vomited (all over my husband) in the middle of the night. Though he went through several months of being a ‘happy spitter’ in his babyhood, he hadn’t ever thrown up like a big kid.
It’s amazing how quickly our parental instincts kicked in. As soon as I heard the gagging, coughing noise, I leapt up from a deep sleep, flipped on the lights, and grabbed something to soak up the mess. At first we thought it might just be indigestion, but after several repeat performances, we realized it was something more. He managed to hit my husband every time. I cleaned them up and they changed shirts. Again. And again. And again.
He got sick around 4 a.m. on a Monday and threw up several times over the next four hours. After that, it seemed to be all out of his system except for some diarrhea that lasted for about a day. He was a little tired and cranky, but still wanted to play in between watching cartoons.
My turn came Tuesday night. The funny thing is that I don’t really remember having a stomach bug either. I’m sure I did at some point, but never in my adult life– even after working in elementary schools for six years. Just like Boo-Boo, I had it all throughout the night. My experience, let’s call it, lasted a bit longer at around 12 hours. My biggest fear was becoming dehydrated and needing an IV. I called my midwife the next morning and she gave me instructions on how to slowly re-hydrate. They were similar to what my son’s pediatrician’s nurse told me to do for him. (I’ll share it down below.)
Unlike my son, I needed several days to recover from being sick. Though I didn’t have any symptoms, I felt terrible for about three days. I have fibromyalgia, so my body tends to over-react to any type of trauma. Just spending the entire day shopping at the mall can put me out of commission the next day– so my body was definitely unhappy about this.
Hubby managed not to get sick. He told me he thinks he doesn’t have the receptors for this virus– he’s a virologist, did I mention?– and that I probably got it because I’m pregnant and immunocompromised. Based on our symptoms, his guess was that we had norovirus, a nasty bug that’s vicious but fast-moving. It’s known for being highly contagious because it takes very little of it to make a person sick. Norovirus doesn’t cause fevers and has a quick incubation period. So you get sick usually within 24 hours of being exposed. He said it’s commonly spread through food when someone touches infected fecal matter and then prepares food without properly washing their hands. Lovely.
So since we’ve reached our First Stomach Bug milestone, I thought I’d share a few things I learned from the experience. If you haven’t yet reached this milestone, tuck this knowledge away for the future. If you’ve passed it, please share any other tips you’ve learned!
1. Make ice. We don’t have an automatic ice machine, so typically I don’t have any ice in the house. At the first sign of trouble, make sure you have ice on hand to help you re-hydrate later.
2. Double or triple bag your trash can. The night I was sick, Hubby brilliantly made me a bedside trash can with several bags inside so it could be quickly changed. He also put newspapers underneath just in case anything didn’t make it. It was pretty romantic.
3. If you cloth diaper, switch to disposables. Just do it. Diarrhea isn’t fun for anyone.
4. Make a container for your medical needs. While, this may not be as pertinent to norovirus sufferers as with other illnesses, I have found that keeping a little box with things like tissue, ibuprofen, thermometers, Vitamin C tablets, or anything else a sick person needs will help you get what you need quickly. It also makes it easier for Hubby to find what I need when I know exactly where to tell him to look.
5. Switch to paper plates. Again, this is applicable to any illness (or postpartum!) when you simply don’t have the extra time or energy to wash dishes. Using paperware might also cut down on the transmission of germs because it’s sometimes difficult to properly sanitize plates and cups in the home.
6. Re-hydrate. Slowly. I was famished for water after vomiting for hours, but my midwife warned that drinking too much too quickly would only disrupt my system and cause me to throw up more. Instead, she instructed me to suck on ice chips. She said to wait an hour after throwing up to start and to eat ice every 10 minutes for about an hour. If I could make it without another episode, then I could start with little sips of water every 10 minutes. She told me to continue for several hours until I could try to drink anything like Gatorade or eat plain crackers.
Boo-Boo’s nurse gave similar advice. She said to start by giving him 5 mL of water or Pedialyte in a medicine syringe for a couple of hours before allowing him to drink or eat anything more. It was tough because he was asking for water and food and he’s obviously too little to understand why we wouldn’t give it to him. TV was the best distraction. We did TV and cuddles on the couch while he re-hydrated.
I’m so happy to be feeling like myself again this week! I’m honestly thankful for times of sickness so that I can appreciate times of good health!