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Julia walks up to me and lets out a huge belch. This should have been my first clue.
"Whoa—excuse you!" I laugh.
Then, puke starts pouring out of her mouth.
I instinctively leap to catch it in my upturned palms. But with the next heave, it's pouring down my arms and into a big pukey puddle on the floor.
"It's OK. Get it all out, baby." I say, standing by helplessly while Julia sputters and coughs.
Her body heaves again, and puke pools into a giant, slimy amoeba on the floor, swimming along and slipping into the cracks between the floorboards.
Finally, I pick Julia up and run to the sink, where she gags and spits and hurls again, emptying the entire contents of her stomach (which, incidentally, seems to be some sort of cream cheese/yogurt-based dip curdled with apple peels from that morning's snack at school).
What is it about puke that is so immediately contagious? You see it. You smell it. And suddenly, your own stomach is heaving. You are holding your poor, puking child over the sink, feeling so sorry for her and trying to help, but also—looking away, because you're trying really hard not to hurl yourself.
Right then and there, I realized exactly what we were in for: the same stomach bug had just made its way through the gastrointestinal systems of all of our friends. And with Will already on a plane headed to Texas for his Uncle Jonathan's funeral, all I could think was:
I consoled myself with the fact that at least Charlie didn't have it. And when stomach cramps woke me at 1 a.m. Friday night, and I spent the rest of the night hugging the toilet, I consoled myself again with the thought that I could at least puke in peace, without having to take care of babies for a good six hours.
In the morning, Julia was feeling a little better, but it was all I could do to not hurl again as I tried to make breakfast for her and Charlie. Opening the fridge made my stomach lurch. It was like being pregnant all over again, except this time, barfing brought some actual relief. Finally! All those months of pregnancy nausea were coming in handy: I remembered the "suck on a lemon" trick that never did seem to work when I was pregnant, and the ginger tea trick, and the spicy peppermint gum, which did help quell the queasies as I went about our day. All the while, I tried taking my cues from Julia, who seemed to be handling the whole thing so much better than me, hopping around the house like a bunny moments after being sick herself.
And, then, Charlie started barfing. So quietly that, at first, I didn't even notice. There was just his barf-soaked shirt and the stunned look on his face. And then, it was coming out his nose, as he gasped for breath and cried. Later that night, Charlie woke every half hour, crying from what I'm assuming were the same stomach cramps that had woken me. As I held him and rocked him, with Julia sleeping peacefully alongside a bucket in our bed, I thought:
"At least Will will be home tomorrow."
And then came the call from Will the next morning, who hung up the phone abruptly to go puke in the airplane bathroom.
A barf storm has rained down upon our house. But, I can already see the sun beginning to poke through the clouds. Julia just told me: "Mama, since everyone's sick, and I'm not, I'll take care of you all." And, with that, she ran off to make some of her famous water tea. Just what the doctor ordered.
Join FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she chronicles life with a new baby.
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