I fear antibiotics the way that some people dread spiders or snakes. I actually had a nightmare when I was pregnant with Cal that I might need them during his birth and woke up in a cold sweat.

Before I go on, let me also mention that I love antibiotics. When I got an infection in my leg from a sting ray wound on my foot, I gulped those suckers down like they were candy. And miracle candy it was. Infection, gone. Leg still kicking. So to be more thorough, I fear and love antibiotics.

In my adolescence, I had several courses of antibiotics after a botched wisdom tooth removal. The surgery also left me with a piece of a dental instrument in my jaw and a partially numb lower lip for life, but the antibiotics threw me the most.

I suddenly became a 13 year old with chronic yeast infections that didn’t abate until college, when I got serious about a sugar free, dairy free, wheat free diet. These days, I don’t have to carry around little baggies of sprouted almonds to snack on while everyone else eats cake. But I do take a probiotic every morning. I started taking it consistently when I had a surprise bout of mastitis when Jo was 2. My acupuncturist recommended them and some herbs and manually expressing pus out of my achy boob. Good times.

I kicked the mastitis, which had gotten pretty serious, without needing antibiotics, and I was delightfully yeast-infection-free to boot.

I got especially lathered up about probiotics after I happened upon a PBS special that talked about how your gut is the first line of defense in your immune system–if you want to stay healthier, dose up your gut with a whole boatload of good flora. So I kept taking the probiotics everyday. Lo and behold, I stopped getting sick so often. Everyone in our house would come down with something, and I’d sail through unscathed. I would swagger around feeling biologically superior and imagining that my gut looks like this:

Image by Cornelia Kopp

That’s when I decided we should all be taking one. So I found the cheapest place that sells the brand my acupuncturist likes and started giving AJ one everyday too. Jo digs his chewable version and I mix Cal’s into his bottle. They are not cheap, but I decided that the money we save from Jo not having missed a day of childcare in 2 years more than covers it. I swear we get sick less often than most other families we know, even though we’re swimming in the same viral and bacterial petri dish that is pre-school.

When we do get sick, it usually looks like a downgraded version of what everyone else is getting, and my favorite go-to for Jo and Cal is this great kids’ health resource. After checking in with it about 6 month old Cal’s sniffles, I’ve been dosing him up with 3-4 drops of echinacea tincture in his nighttime bottle, along with a couple drops of this for good measure.

On a side note: I started the new job. I chuckle to myself every day that I wander into the sea of cubicles. Being there feels a bit like visiting a foreign country–I feel unsure of the lingo–whether someone is kidding or completely serious, but I’m starting to get a toe-hold on the culture of the place. Like magic, I get excited to come home. I open the door and sigh. Home. I feel a sweet little lift instead of the old kerplunk that used to greet me. Also, I am pleased to say that AJ and I have reached a delightful understanding: after we put the kids to bed, we put the house to bed. So my fears of sinkfuls of crusty dishes and general mayhem have been allayed. And it feels, more than ever since having kids, that AJ and I are team. Woot.