On the ambulance, I didn’t have the opportunity to run outside into the fresh air when I was hit with something bad. The first time it happened, I was chatting with a patient who was the CEO and founder of a local nation-wide company that sold cutlery. It was a routine transport and he felt fine–even promising to send me a pair of scissors when he got back home. During our conversation, I felt the nausea creeping up, so I just gently said “excuse me one moment,” grabbed a puke basin, silently filled it behind him, and threw some drying chemicals and a towel over the bucket so no one would know what happened. Except for my partner who saw the whole thing and started laughing. He was male, obviously. I never got the scissors.
Other calls were worse, like the time I had a 16-year-old girl with a head injury who had made it all the way to the receiving hospital 1.5 hours away without puking. Then, as we’re just about to the parking lot and I’m giving a radio report, she starts in. The radio report quickly ended as I grabbed a bucket for her and I to share. I had never, ever, thought I would break the cardinal rule of sharing a bucket for bodily fluids with a patient. There is just something seriously wrong with that picture, but when you’re pregnant and it’s coming up…
This pregnancy, my nausea isn’t nearly as severe. Actually, none of my pregnancy symptoms are, and it’s quite heavenly. I have a desk job this time and a short commute, so the gallon ice-cream bucket I keep in my car for those pregnancy problems hasn’t even been used (I learned about the bucket after hitting my steering wheel and entire front dash one late night). I don’t have to hug a disgusting porcelain bowl while waiting for calls, and I haven’t had to throw up in front of anyone this time. No partner has had to hand me a towel after I’ve had to run to the side of a parking lot, and no one has laughed at me as I gag while cleaning up the back of a rig.
It’s a beautiful thing, working while you’re pregnant. The constant trips to the bathroom, trying to stay awake during boring meetings, finding clothing that allows you to go out into public…and the nausea and vomitting that can appear anywhere and everywhere. Thank God we can learn to laugh about these moments and catalog them away in our memory to share with our children when they’re teenagers, giving us a hard time about something (“you have no idea what I went through to have you…”). And thank God it’s women that have to go through this, because I don’t know too many men who could live through 40 weeks of gut wrenching symptoms!
Take courage, pregnant women who must brave the world. Those babies are worth it in the end, and you can always move your car to another parking spot so as to leave the evidence behind when you go grocery shopping (just in case you forgot your ice-cream bucket).