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When I was pregnant with my first baby, my friends threw me a wonderful shower a few weeks before my due date. It was so sweet of them, and we all had a great time. Opening all those packages of tiny clothes and cozy blankets and creative toys, I started to get really excited about meeting my new little one.
But one evil person – fortunately for them, I never did find out who, and really, I can only assume they had no idea at the time – gave me a present I'll never forget.
Stomach flu, whether you're pregnant or not, often produces chills and unpleasant overall aches. But as suggested by the name, the stomach issues are the worst symptoms by far; at least they were for me. Without going into too much detail, every possible orifice that could expel solids and fluids from my body did exactly that.
I started not feeling well around bedtime the day of the party. Soon I was running for the bathroom over and over, and every time I thought I was finished, I had to rush back again a few minutes later. This went on all night.
My husband sat by anxiously, bringing me cool washcloths and ginger ale, helping however he could. Just when finally things seemed to be calming down, it was time for him to go to work. We decided he should go – we wanted to save as many days off as we could for when the baby got here, after all. So he headed out, I called in sick, and crawled, exhausted, back into bed.
And then a few hours later, it started all over again.
When I couldn't even keep water down, I called my doctor in case there was a risk of me getting dehydrated (persistent vomiting is one of the symptoms that means a pregnant woman should call her doctor immediately). She said that yes, dehydration was a very real possibility, and told me to head directly to the E.R. to get checked out. My husband came home from work and drove us to the hospital.
When I arrived, I was checked into a room and given the obligatory hospital gown. I had to pee in a cup (my husband pointed out that my urine was the color of a dark amber ale ... a discerning description, but not a good sign as far as hydration goes). Then I was hooked up to a monitor – or rather, my belly was hooked up so the doctor and nurses could watch the baby's heartbeat.
The heartbeat was apparently a little high, and they told me I'd be staying until it went down and stayed steady. I was given fluids via an IV to get me rehydrated again. Fortunately, by then I had stopped being violently ill, so the only goal was to replace the fluids I had lost.
I was there all day. I sent my husband home to grab me a sweater and socks (freezing hospital rooms!), a book, and other things to keep me busy while lying in bed. He also called our close friends and family to let them know what was going on.
By that evening, the baby's heartbeat was where the doctor wanted it. I had arrived at the hospital at about 6:30 a.m.; I was finally cleared to go home about 14 hours later.
I took the next day off, but called in to say I'd be back to work the following day. A co-worker (and new mom herself) insisted I take the rest of the week to recuperate. I know not everyone is lucky enough to have support like that, and I'm so grateful to the people I was working with. It definitely took longer than I anticipated to rest and recover after being so sick.
Once I was able to stomach eating again, I started with small amounts of very mild foods. I found ginger ale was helpful, and chicken soup was wonderful as well. I wish I had known then to ask my doctor about probiotics. A yogurt or probiotic drink to help get my digestive system back on track afterward could have been really helpful.
Looking back, I would also have taken five minutes to get things together for the hospital. My husband and I were lucky that the hospital was close to home so he could run back and forth, since we ended up being there much longer than we had anticipated, but you'll be glad if you stop for a minute to contemplate what you might need. You can't plan for a sudden visit the way you would for having a baby, of course, but I recommend a sweater and socks, books and magazines, a toothbrush, earbuds or ear plugs, maybe a sleep mask. Also, a change of clothes, because chances are you could end up staying the night.
My son was born a little less than a month after this ordeal – an 8-pound, 10-ounce healthy baby who showed no signs of our miserable day of sickness together.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.