Well, we made it to eleven months without an episode of food poisoning or gastro - and I'm not even talking about the baby. I hate getting gastro because it knocks me for six, so the idea of getting it while managing a baby was not a fun thought.
Dealing with a crying baby while needing to convulse on the loo, or trying to avoid dehydration with gastro while breastfeeding... it all just seemed too complicated. For the first couple of months after she was born, I avoided any food I thought might possibly, maybe be a little bit too old. I have been eating normally now for some time, but if the food looks really dicey, I don't risk it - like the other day when I went to a barbarcue and the cook fried the meat then put it back onto the bloody chopping board where it had been chopped up. It might have been fine, but I passed.
But you can't avoid these things forever, and the other night, at 4am, gastro struck. At first it was just vomiting. I threw up a few times and then went back to bed and slept. Amazingly, Bethany decided on that evening to sleep right through to 7.30am without waking, so by the morning when I fed her, I felt kind of ok.
I had some water and sipped on some Powerade, and figured I'd just eaten something a bit off and it was over. But an hour or so later it was back with a vengeance. I was feeding her again and I could feel the nausea rising. After the feed, I quickly delivered her to my mother in law, and dashed to the loo. It was as though my body was a sack filled with water, and someone had poked a couple of holes in it, and all the water decided to fountain out at once. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't pleasant.
I started to feel light-headed. I hadn't held down any liquid since a drink I'd had at about 11pm the night before. Fortuitously, both my mother in law and my father were on hand to help out with Bethany that day. Bethany went off with her granny while I tried to get some rest. When I just chucked again, and I was feeling woozy, we decided to go to A&E, as I figured I might need a drip if I was going to continue the breastfeeding.
I hate A&E. It's not the place to sit and feel comfortable, particularly with gastro. But they were very nice. They checked my blood pressure (a bit low), and then offered me a shot of Maxolon, which I took. Within 15 minutes the nausea had completely disappeared. I held down a hydralite ice-block, then powerade, and then later that evening some rice with soy sauce. I do wish they'd told me about the side-effects, which was not only that I'd be super groggy, but it could go through my breastmilk and make my baby groggy. She spent the afternoon increasingly frustrated as she'd fall down every few steps. On the other hand, one of the side effects of Maxolon is to increase milk supply. Not sure if it did, but even though I was feeding Bethany a little less frequently and she was topping up with water after, she still slept pretty well that night, as though she'd got enough to eat.
The next day I was well enough to go to work, and managed to do bridesmaidly duties at a wedding rehearsal that afternoon. I moved from vegemite on toast, to mushroom soup, to an ordinary dinner. I felt a little queasy at times but put that down to my tummy still being a bit sore.
But the next day, between being on my feet all day with wedding preparations, carrying a 10kg baby around while wearing heels in the heat, nibbling on rich cheeses and cakes, and drinking perhaps half a glass of champagne, by 5.30pm I was not feeling well at all. I had to leave the wedding about 2 hours into the reception. I tried to get rid of the nausea by resting but no luck. By 11pm I was chucking again.
Thankfully, my husband took over the night shift. I was so glad I had done the partial night-weaning, because I knew I could hand her over to him, go into a room and shut the door, he could give her water if he needed and I could just worry about myself until morning. I chucked again at almost 1am then had a good, solid night's sleep. (Haha, you know you are a mum when a 'good, solid night's sleep' means uninterrupted sleep from 1am to 7am, and includes waking briefly at 5am then going back to sleep.)
My husband was not so lucky. Both he and Bethany have head colds - so she was snuffling and waking frequently, and he was having to deal with that while being sick himself. Having been there and done that, I felt for him. But I also knew that unless I got some uninterrupted rest, there was a strong chance I'd be back in A&E.
Today I am back on hydralyte ice-blocks and vegemite toast, and still feel slightly queasy but not too bad. I am thinking now that this may be a rotavirus, given how liquid things have been, and given how long it's persisting. Bethany may not be sick because she was immunised. She did have mild diarrhoea a couple of days before I got sick, so maybe she picked it up and gave it to me. Breastfeeding is also meant to be protective against rotavirus. I don't know how well that works if my own antibodies are so weak that I get it this strongly, but it can't have hurt.
After the unpleasantness of the first dose of rotavirus vaccine (two weeks of diarrhoea), I looked into how essential it was, and found that the vaccine was believed to only be about 60% effective at preventing severe rotavirus, and that some studies showed breastfeeding offered about the same degree of protection. I ummed and ahhed for a bit then decided that the unpleasantness was worth that 60% bonus (although I did wonder when we then got a month of green diarrhoea), and vowed to try and persist with the breastfeeding as well for as long as possible. I don't know if it was these choices, or sheer luck, but I can say right now that I am very grateful that I am only dealing with the symptoms myself, and not attempting to manage a dehydrating baby also.
In future, I know to keep a stock of hydralite ice-blocks, to give my tummy a rest for several hours if I've been chucking rather than trying to get the fluids down, and if things get really bad I can ask for the Maxolon shot.