She Says… You Learn Something New Every Day

We learned something new about Owen on our trip this weekend:

He gets car sick.

Now THAT was a lesson I could have lived without.

I have written before about how Owen hates his carseat. Ever since he was teeny tiny, he would fuss and fuss whenever we put him in the car. He rarely slept in the car (though now he has figured out how to do that, thankfully!). He is cool as a cucumber in a carrier, stroller, walking or in my arms, but the car just makes him frustrated. Now that I’ve seen the evidence of his motion sickness, I think I understand.

Here’s how it went down. Our plan to exhaust Owen with a morning of playing at the kiddie gym was a success. I stayed home and packed up the car and the food and all of the last-minute stuff while Owen and Benjamin played. We had a nice lunch and then hopped in the car for our 3.5-4 hour drive up North. That was where the success stopped, unfortunately. Instead of just shutting his tired little eyes, Owen expressed his dissatisfaction with our decision to have him nap in the car. He cried and cried. I crawled into the back seat (WITH the gigantic labradoodle AND the carseat) and shhhed him and cuddled him as best I could in his carseat. Finally I laid my head in his lap and he tucked his little arms around my neck and fell asleep. Once he was out, I slowly moved my head out of his lap, tucked a blanket around him and climbed back up front.

About 1.5 hours later we needed gas and a pee break (damn those Dunkin Donuts coffees we got when we started!). We were trying to go as long as we could without stopping to keep the nap going, but the gas tank won out. We stopped. Got gas in the middle of nowhere and let Owen run around the gas station parking lot. We peed in a port-a-potty. Hopped back in the car and immediately Owen needed something to keep him occupied. Normally it would be milk time since he got up from his nap (even though his naps are usually longer), so I gave him a sippy of milk (in hindsight, of course, NOT the best idea!).

When he got fussy I hopped in the back again. We sang, we played hand games, we chatted and made faces at each other. We sang some more, played with Schnitzel’s nose, read a book and sang some more. He was doing fine! We were actually having fun!

Cue the twisty turn-y mountain road. We looked at the (unbelievably gorgeous) foliage and talked about the leaves. Owen started fussing. No amount of silly games or singing would make him stop. His face changed. He started burping and then crying. I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t put two and two together until the puking started.

And once it started, it just didn’t stop.

He puked. Instinctively I stuck my hand out to catch it (WHY is that my instinct?!) while simultaneously turning my face away so that I didn’t puke too. “Daddy, open the windows!”. I patted Owen’s hair as we drove, and the puking just didn’t stop.

I have never. In my life. EVER. Seen anyone puke this much. It just kept coming. I found a towel on the floor and started putting it over the puke so Owen (and I) would have to smell it/see it. Every time he puked again, I folded the towel over and covered it up. We had a carseat filled with a puke-and-towel layer cake.

Benjamin and I shouted to each other over the sound of the open windows:
ME: What should we do? Stop the car?
BENJAMIN: We can’t stop the car… there’s nowhere to stop. And nothing here but trees!
ME: And if we stop the car, what are we going to do about the carseat? It’s FULL of puke! Just DRIVE.

We decided to get where we were going as fast as possible. We were probably about 45 minutes away. 45 minutes of Owen wedged in a puke-filled carseat and Mama holding back his hair.

Poor, poor baby.

Once we got there we pulled the whole carseat out of the car. It was like a bomb ready to explode as soon as we pulled out the pin Owen. We extricated the baby (puke and all) and took him straight to the bathtub. I cleaned up Owen and Benjamin handled the carseat.

I would say one of us got the better deal in that scenario. It was me.

We left the windows open all weekend, but the smell of puke-slash-Fantastik was nauseating.

On the way home we were prepared. We nixed the milk in the car (can you imagine how much sicker you would feel with a stomach full of dairy ON TOP of being motion sick? Eww.). We had a full tank of gas and tried to extend the nap as much as possible. We had trash bags and a clean towel at the ready. Instead of continuous snacks we munched on some dry crackers. I was on the lookout for the burping and “puke face”. Now I know what Owen’s “puke face” looks like.

And do you know what? We needed all of that prep. Because it happened again on the way home. About a mile from our house when I thought we were in the clear. We turned a few sharp corners and hit the brakes and – BAM! – puke. It’s quite clear that the sickness is caused by windy turns and hitting the brakes simultaneously.

Benjamin’s mom commiserated. Apparently Benjamin had a knack for being a car puker when he was little too. The next time we have a long drive we will do many things differently (like stopping and breaking up the trip BEFORE the puking starts).

Have you ever dealt with carsickness? What do you do about it?

P.S. Lovely pictures from our picturesque hike and weekend in the mountains are to come. Had to get the puke story out first.

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23 responses to “She Says… You Learn Something New Every Day

  1. Out of curiosity–do you have him rear-facing still, or did you decide to turn him around? I know that was a debate on here a while back. I am a huge advocate of rear-facing until the age of 2, but I have heard that some kids literally cannot handle riding backwards (makes me sick to my stomach to think about riding that way, so it’s understandable!). Maybe for your next long(er) car ride, you can try facing him forward to see if that helps him? Depends what you are most comfortable with, of course, but a car seat full of puke is no fun for anybody!

  2. @Heather, Yes, we do still have him rear-facing. Even though he hates to be rear-facing (and now has proved that it actually makes him ill), the safety argument won out. Hoping to avoid many long car trips until he turns two — I’m thinking turning him forwards may help a lot with this new issue.

  3. You know, I wasn’t worried about taking my kid on a 6 hour (one way) car trip until I read this. :) Oh, my poor car.

    Mommies are puke catchers and daddies are puke cleaners. I like it.

  4. The pediatrician told my brother to give his girls a child’s dose of Dramamine. It knocks them out and no puking for the 7 hour drive home (not sleeping the whole time). The tend to try to do the drive at night too so that sleep is an option.

  5. Wow, you poor guys! Car sickness is so yucky.
    I can’t believe you made it until 1 mile from home, though!

  6. Oh my gosh, that sounds horrible! I can’t even imagine dealing with that, I would’ve started puking myself.

  7. The best thing is to give him some claratin or zyrtec (5mg), that is what I prescribe my little patients with motion/car sickness

  8. Dramamine. Had 2 pukers and even flying did them in.
    –melissa

  9. Poor Owen! Poor Mommy & Daddy, too! I was/am a car/airplane/boat puker… Dramamine has been my lifesaver since I was really little. Here’s hoping that Eli has Hubby’s stomach!

  10. Ginger is supposed to be good for motion sickness (and most tummy things!). Maybe try some ginger snaps before going? I know it helped with morning sickness lol. Mythbusters did an episode on it too haha!

  11. Poor kid! Your new car (van!) will never smell the same again!

  12. Claire and Emma are both major car pukers – I keep blankets nearby to do what you did with the towel – the second they burp I cover everything! Its good to have sealable bags and baking soda for the smell- it works magic for getting rid of vomit smell. Unfortunately, being forward facing hasn’t improved the situation for us…

  13. OMG Kate! {hugs} to Owen. Good thing you weren’t far away from your final destination. Yep, I’d say that your spouse got the raw end of the deal. ha! Hope this is just a ‘phase’ that little Owen is going through… I hope you had a fantastic trip otherwise.

  14. Oh my. I don’t know how you held it together. I would have lost my lunch with the poor little guy. I think after you dealing with the puke in the car, it was an even trade for Benjamin to clean up!

  15. Our car seats have 2 settings, one for babies (which is reclined more); and one for older babies (which is less reclined). We couldn’t figure out why my son was fussing so much in the car seat lately and it was because when my husband moved the car seat to clean the car he put it in the reclined position. Once we put it back in the more upright position the fussing stopped considerably. He is rear facing and we plan to keep it like that until age 2.

  16. All I have to say is….WOW. poor baby! poor kate! (You are super-duper grossed out by puking, too, right?!!?)

  17. Aw poor little feller. I personally didn’t have a problem with car trips but I do know my sister had a car sickness problem when she was really little. It would only happen when we were returning from my Uncle’s home in Indiana (we’re from Ohio) but usually when it would happen my mother and I would switch places and she’d sit in the back with her. But when it came to nausea or sickness we had a really simple solution in my family. 7UP, saltine crackers, applesauce and sleep (may not do the applesauce thing and he maybe to young for soda.)

  18. My Mum used to give Gravol to my brother, myself and the dog before every car trip. We were all major pukers and I still am if I am in the back seat.

  19. oh my gosh!!!!!!!! sooo horrible to have gone through that! :(

  20. If you don’t want to turn him around or give him dramamine (although I hear it’s safe) you might try the arm bands. I hear they work like a charm, if you can get him to keep them on.

  21. I feel your pain! I have an almost three year old, who as we discovered this summer, also gets motion sickness. Not a fun way to find out! We started giving her half of a dramamine before long trips. The problem is she also started getting sick driving around town. Now per our pediatrician’s advice we give her half a tsp of zyrtec every night (apparently dramamine is just an antihistamine like benadryl or zyrtec), only it doesn’t make her as drowsy as benadryl or dramamine. We also avoid dairy products, and windy routes if possible!

  22. I had my son rear facing until he was almost 3 and finally turned him because he puked every time we went anywhere… but some time after that, I was mentioning it to a CPST and she said that kids who did fine rear facing all their lives and suddenly started getting sick, might have water in their ears. My guy did get a rash of ear infections around that time so I’m thinking that was it, but maybe it is for you? He’s four now and still below the max rear facing weight for his seat and had he not started puking he’d probably still be rear facing haha. Also I learned that antihistamine (benadryl, claritin, zyrtec) is a form of anti-puking drug, if you’re not averse to trying that.

  23. @jen, That is really interesting!!! Turns out he was just diagnosed with an ear infection over the weekend (leftover from his pneumonia from a few weeks ago) and we didn’t know. So the ear thing might actually have been the culprit. Man, I hope so! I will keep my fingers crossed on that one. Thank you so much for sharing that info.

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