It started Wednesday. The subtle pain in the back of my throat. Always a sure sign that I’m about to get sick. I started to mentally prepare for the worst. At least one, maybe two sick days from work. A trip to the doc for a prescription. Homebound for the next couple of days. Pretty standard stuff, really.
I had plans to get a haircut on Friday, but decided I shouldn’t take my chances so I called and made a last-minute appointment for that night (Wednesday night). Good choice, because I was about to be knocked on my ass for the next several days.
Thursday morning I woke up with a sore throat and lots of sinus pressure. Since most of my colds turn into sinus infections, I figured I would get a head start on this one and call my OB. (My primary doc moved and I’ve been too lazy to find another one.) The nurse at my OB’s office called me back within the hour (a miracle in itself!) and after I convinced her that I was dealing with the beginnings of a sinus infection, agreed to prescribe a pregnancy-safe antibiotic (Z-pack) and told me to take some Sudafed. By noon I was off to Walgreens, practically skipping because I had outsmarted this sickness and would be better in NO TIME! hahahaha!!! Also, I’m not sure how it is in other states, but Missouri is one in which you have to buy Sudafed from BEHIND the counter and must show your ID and sign some big legal document which I assume says “I am not a meth maker,” in legal terms. There are many reasons to hate meth-heads, and inconveniencing sick, pregnant women is now topping my list.
Anyway, once I got home and took my medicine, I delightfully hopped back on my laptop to get some work done. But later that night, my nose started running. On Friday, my roll of Charmin wasn’t cutting it for Kleenex anymore so the hubs had to run out to buy some because I was starting to give Rudolph a run for his money in the red nose department.
By Friday night, I was completely miserable and starting to realize that this sickness was something nasty. Something viral. I tossed and turned all night long getting MAYBE an hour of sleep, total. I got up at 6am and took a hot shower.
Saturday was much worse. Constant nose blowing. Headaches. Pressure. Sore throat. Loss of appetite. Congestion. Couldn’t nap. Just awful. I had to miss a friend’s PJ playdate, which I’d been looking forward to for weeks.
Saturday night was much of the same until I finally moved downstairs to the couch so at least the hubs could get a decent night’s sleep, because I certainly wasn’t. I watched as the clock hit 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3, 3:30 and so on until I was just so damn frustrated I couldn’t stand it. Then the coughing fits started. I can handle just about everything else, but coughing until gagging just puts me in a bad place. So then I just spent the day moping around, pissed that antibiotics weren’t working and that someone out there got me sick. And whoever that person was, I wanted to kick them in the shins. Hard.
Because here’s the thing about being sick while pregnant. YOU CAN’T TAKE ANYTHING! No DayQuil/NyQuil. No sleep aids. No nasal sprays except saline. And even cough drops are used at a minimum since they make my stomach hurt after about 3. On top of that, a pregnant woman’s immune system is much lower than a normal person’s so this means that viruses hit us much harder and last much longer because our bodies aren’t able to fight them off as well.
So what have I been using?
A combination of things. I only wish I would’ve purchased some of these things a bit sooner. If you’re pregnant and feel the sickness coming on, do or buy these things:
1. The most important thing so far: A warm-mist humidifier. My house is SUPER DRY. If you don’t have a way to measure the humidity of your house, get a digital humidity gauge. We bought a combo temp/humidity ditial reader so we could monitor the temperature and humidity in D’s nursery when he was an infant and it’s astonishing to me to see that in the winter months, our house’s humidity level is around 10%. This is too dry. Comfortable humidity levels should be around 35%-40% in the winter. Even with D’s humidifier running at full blast all day long, his room only ever gets to around 25% humidity. I had no idea how much of a role this would play when battling a cold, until I tried taking a nap and couldn’t sleep because the air was so dry on my throat that it would send me into coughing fits every 5 minutes. Once we bought the humidifier and cranked that puppy up to reach 40% in our room? I took a solid 1.5 hr nap without any issues and woke up feeling 10 times better. Still ridiculously sick, but able to sleep and breathe.
2. Good Kleenex. And lots of it. When you’re blowing your nose every 2 minutes, it’s important to have good quality Kleenex on hand. And not just one dinky little box. Buy a HUGE box or do what I do and buy a bunch of smaller boxes to leave in various rooms of the house so they’re always just within reach. I went through two boxes in less than one day.
3. Juice, soups, and warm beverages. I’m not a big tea person. I can tolerate about one cup a day but for some reason, it makes me nauseous. So I rely on decaf coffee, and an assortment of juices. I’ve been loving my “fake mimosas” lately. Orange juice and Sprite. So tasty, so full of vitamin C. Cranberry juice is another favorite. Water only makes my itchy throat more itchy so it’s hard for me to sip water all day to stay hydrated, but I imagine some lemons added to the water would be nice. As far as soups, I’m all over the place. It’s just important to make sure that you eat. Colds have a way of tricking the body into not feeling that hungry. Maybe it’s all the snot draining into the stomach, which is gross, but true. So I rarely feel like eating, but know it’s important because I feel so much better after eating a bowl of nice warm soup.
4. Sudafed is great and pregnancy approved, if it works for you. It didn’t seem to do much for me and may actually be a cause of my insomnia since they promote their “non-drowsy” formula. So I stopped taking it after day 2. But for some people, I know it works great.
5. Vicks Vaporub. Seems to help clear the nasal passages a bit, even if only for a few minutes. I rub it on my neck too, and the cold sensation feels soothing on a sore throat.
6. Warm salt water. Gargling warm salt water several times a day seems to help with the sore throat.
7. Cough drops. I try not to use them much because as I said above, they tend to make my stomach hurt after too many. And I’m also really picky about cough drops. I despise Halls and throat lozenges that are basically just candy. I prefer Vicks. They’re hard to find and come in a small box. If those aren’t available, then I suggest Burt’s Bees Honey & Pomegranate flavor.
8. Hot showers. It’s so easy to just lay around in your sick clothes (aka pajamas) and wallow in your own filth for a few days on the couch. But I’m telling you that a nice, hot shower can do wonders for your body and sinuses. That hot steam is just heavenly. And blowdry your hair. I’m usually too lazy to blowdry my hair if I’m not going anywhere, but a wet head and cold hair while sick just drives me nuts, so I make sure to dry my hair. And then I put on clean pjs and get back on the couch.
9. Sweet oil. This was a tip my SIL shared with me when her kids are coming down with an ear infection. She swears by just a few drops of warm sweet oil in the ears. When my inner ears started itching and feeling clogged, I figured it was worth a shot to try to alleviate some of the congestion. And believe it or not, I think it worked!! It at least stopped the itching.
10. Saline nasal spray. I didn’t use this until Sunday evening and while it provided only very temporary relief, it’s better than nothing I suppose.
11. Lots of pillows. I’m usually just a one pillow person but with all the drainage that comes along with being sick, I find that being propped up a bit more helps. So I like to use two big pillows propped up so that I’m on a very clear incline. I sleep much better this way, even if it feels like I’m almost sitting straight up sometimes.
12. Chapstick. A necessity for winter months anyway, but more so when I’m sick and become a heavy mouth-breather.
Any pregnancy-safe cold/flu remedies I missed?