The memory is as vivid today as it was three years ago.
I stood over the changing table, hovering over my six month old baby boy. I peeled his vomit-soaked onsie from his body, and debated throwing it into the hamper or the trash.
A wave of nausea rolled like a roller coaster, running its course through my gut. I willed its contents to stay put while I carefully removed the soiled diaper from his body, hoisting his ankles in the air and trying not to breathe in the horrific fumes.
It was too much.
Abandoning my baby, I emptied the contents of my stomach into the diaper pail, praying that for once, my kid stayed still on the changing table so that he didn’t roll off. I simply couldn’t vomit and hold my baby at the same time.
Fortunately, Jasper and I both survived that stomach bug, as well as the many that followed.
Unfortunately, it left me more than a little paranoid about stomach viruses. (By the time Jasper was seven months old, he had shared SEVEN stomach viruses with us. After you’ve endured that many in as many months, we can talk about how crazy the post below is!)
Last weekend, the stomach bug of 2017 visited our house.
I spent the weekend running around after Jasper, reminding him to wash his hands with the antibacterial soap and Purell. Patrick and I used the Blue Dawn dish soap so much that I left a jar of Vaseline out to help ease our chapped hands.
I constantly Lysoled EVERYTHING.
The carpet, the curtains, the floor. At one point, Patrick had to take the boys to a different floor to escape the Lysol fumes. (Hey, the can says that the surface needs to stay wet for 3-10 minutes to kill the virus! That is a lot of spray on a lot of things.)
I spread sheets on the couch and then washed and dried them on the sanitize cycle. I cleaned up messes while wearing disposable gloves, and when I Lysoled the bathrooms and Jasper’s room, I wore a mask. When Patrick was struck ill, I tried my best to keep tiny Sawyer away from him, and continued my vigilant efforts to contain the virus.
Patrick was more than a little annoyed, but tolerated my Lysol/fumigation of the house.
“You’re paranoid, but that is ok,” he said from across the room, laughter lighting the corners of his sad, sick eyes.
After the haze of sleepless nights spent caring for sick boys lifted, I took to the internet to do some research. How could I better prevent the virus from entering our home? Was I crazy to Lysol EVERYTHING?
Usually, I sanitize Jasper’s hands with Purell once a day, and I use the Ava hand sanitizer repeatedly throughout the day. Our house is cleaned top to bottom a couple of times a month, and the floors are washed almost every day, since Sawyer is in the crawling/eating everything in sight phase of life. I began to wonder if I was doing the right things as a mom.
There are a couple of things that I realize are hard truths:
- Daycare and basic hand sanitization play a major role in these illnesses
- Bacteria is good and important. I don’t want to kill it all.
- We will continue to get stomach viruses, even if I do everything right
Still, I hit the internet in desperate hope of affirming my own crazy sanitation, and making sure that I had done all that could be done to further limit the spread of the virus.
What I learned was shocking.
There aren’t any studies about whether or not saliva spreads stomach viruses (rotavirus and norovirus); the viruses are spread through feces and vomit. With a toddler and an infant in the house, that means that poop can be quickly spread throughout the house.
As I trudged through the internet, I was horrified.
Did you know that simply washing clothes, towels and sheets does not stop the growth of bacteria? And that not all cleaners kill the virus?
I was horrified.
Basically, my husband and son are walking germ factories.
If you see either of them walking in your direction, you should just walk the other way. (Forget baths! That toddler can bathe himself! Patrick is sleeping in the guest room!)