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Keep Your Germs To Yourself, Please

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It was going to be such a great trip. My birthday surprise from my husband was a trip back home to Madison, Wisconsin to celebrate my leap year birthday. My real birthday only comes once every four years so I was really looking forward getting to see friends and family.

It had been a year since our last visit and our two young sons were ecstatic to be going. It would be my last flight before having our third baby. I was 6 months pregnant. A birthday party was scheduled. A spa day treat and dinner plans were made. We were packed (no easy task for a family of four) and ready to go.

Traveling with young kids, especially flying, is about as stressful as it gets. I hate walking down the isle to my seat and seeing the faces of people that are just praying that we aren’t sitting next to them. They see us coming, “Keep going, keep going…” I say as I carry my purse and three other carry on bags holding, snacks, toys, movies and our DVD player. No matter how many times they fly, our kids are fascinated with the seats, the windows, everything. This curiosity is distracting them from walking to our seats and we are holding everyone up.

Once we finally make it there, it is time for set up. We put the bags that we don’t need to get into in the overhead compartments and carefully put everything that we will need under the seats. Since we are a family of four, there are three of us in one row and one adult will be seating in a different row. My husband hands me a book and whispers in my ear that this is another birthday gift as he takes the seat with the kids and sends me to the single seat. “Oh, how I love him!” I think as I hear the beginning of the fight between our sons about who gets to sit by the window. I put on my headphones and turn on my IPOD. I smile as I think, “we are on our way.”

We were two days into our eleven day trip when I woke up with a sore throat. The germs took hold of my pregnant, defenseless body and I quickly became sicker than I ever had. Within a day of waking up with that sore throat, I was coughing uncontrollably and sick in bed with a fever.

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Just reading this makes me ill! Being pregnant with the flu is indeed such a miserable state - especially if you have other young kids to care for on top of everything.

Airplanes are just rotten places. Even if nobody on your flight was sick, which may have been the case, planes are rarely cleaned properly. You could have gotten the flu bug from your tray table, a door knob, a handle or your window blind. And let's not even mention the toilets!

Air quality in airplanes is particularly bad. We traveled from Amsterdam, Holland to Sydney, Australia once and the flight crew told us that cleaners and other personnel actually stand away from the plane when the doors are opened because the air smells so bad.

Cleaning crews are in and out of a plane in record time, especially for domestic flights. Their main concern is to vacuum and wipe up what is visible and get out to ensure quick turnaround.

When I travel with my kids, I make sure we use wipes constantly, and I clean their tray tables and arm rests as best I can but it's a crap shoot. I just sit and pray that no-one spends the vacation in their sick bed.

I'm sorry your birthday was so miserable - I hope the next one made up for it!

PS - I was always the one on the plane PRAYING that the family coming down the isle with kids were no where near me! I'd sit there, mentally saying "go away, go away, go away..." and now that I have three toddlers, I just KNOW that others are doing the same thing!! Luckily, our kids enjoy flying and are quiet, even when flying trans-Atlantic. I sometimes just want to initiate a reassurance to those around us that our kids will be fine and well-behaved but within a couple of hours, people can see it themselves and then night-time falls and the kids sleep. Those faces on people as we come down the aisle are priceless though! I guess I wore the same expressions too!

April 11, 2009 - 11:48am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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