fish barf

Not long after I became pregnant with my only son, I began to suffer from an obscure medical condition called “morning sickness.”

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never heard of this highly unusual complication of pregnancy. But guess what? You’re in luck! As someone who has personally experienced the rare phenomenon of “morning sickness,” I am more than qualified to explain it to you.

For those of you not in the know, “morning sickness” happens like this:

1. You get knocked up.
2. You barf forever.

I should also mention that in some cases of “morning sickness,” the symptoms can last well beyond the first trimester into the ENTIRE NINE MONTHS OF YOUR PREGNANCY. And I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know that I was one of those cases. I’m not going to lie — it was THE WORST. And whatever the opposite of THE BEST is. The only bright side was that I walked away with a bunch of awesome stories to tell. Stories like:

Yet, one story in particular will always stand out as the pinnacle of my “morning sickness” experience, and I hope you will find it as disgusting delightful as I do. Enjoy.


It was six weeks before my son was due to arrive, and three weeks before he actually did arrive. By this time I had my morning sickness mostly under control with a life-saving cocktail of Zofran and Unisom — though when I say “mostly under control” I mean I was only barfing several times a week as opposed to several times a day. 

For some reason my husband had suggested fish and chips for dinner and for some reason I had agreed. But almost immediately after we’d finished eating, my stomach started to grumble and bitch, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that my fish and chips dinner was not going to *stay* dinner. And I also knew that when it came up, it was going to be BAD.

You know how you can just tell? I could just tell.

And I was right. It was BAD.

First I got the sweats. Then I became nauseous. At first I tried doing “morning sickness mitigation tricks” like laying on my left side and taking deep breaths. Those didn’t work, so I had my husband bring me the trusty Big Blue Bowl, a large mixing bowl from Williams-Sonoma that I took almost everywhere. You know — just in case. Sometimes it helped just having it around, even if I didn’t end up actually using it.

Morning Sickness
Three months pregnant and taking a nap with two lazy cats, a Jennifer Weiner novel, and the ever-present Big Blue Bowl.

Sadly, the comforting properties of the Big Blue Bowl did not alleviate my nausea this time around, and soon I was lunging towards the bathroom, just barely making it to the sink in time to evacuate all of my fish and chips into its porcelain embrace. But when I turned on the faucet to try and rinse everything down the drain, the sink informed me in no uncertain terms that IT WAS NOT GOING TO COOPERATE. It was completely clogged with partially digested fish chunks and was bound and determined to stay that way.

So I spent the next ten minutes bailing out the sink with the trusty Big Blue Bowl (a call-to-arms not exactly in its job description) and relocating all of the nasty chunky grossness into the toilet, where it could be flushed away with ease. The sink’s drain remained clogged, but at least there was no longer any standing fish puke water in the basin.


It was at this point that I realized I was once again starting to sweat. And within moments it became crystal clear that something unpleasant was about to start happening in the *other* direction, and it was about to start happening in very short order.

And sure enough, it did.

For the first time since I’d been in the family way, I became struck with raging diarrhea.

In all honesty? After months and months of pregnancy constipation, I thought I might actually enjoy a little bit of diarrhea. BUT I WAS WRONG. This was no “cut it loose and heave a cleansing sigh of relief” diarrhea. This was painful, cramping, “take all your clothes off and hang onto the sides of the toilet seat for dear life while rivers of sweat run down your back and into your ass cleavage” diarrhea. And it was no bueno.

(A brief aside: For those of you who are wondering whether this whole thing might just have been food poisoning, I can assure you that it most definitely wasn’t. My husband ate some of my fish AND some of my chips, and didn’t get sick.)

Eventually everything worked its way out, and when I was feeling able, I cleaned up as much as I possibly could (the fish puke water, the diarrhea residue, and did I mention I also pissed on the floor while barfing? Because I did.) Unfortunately the sink was still clogged, and needed to be dealt with. I tried to plunge it, but that didn’t work; then I tried Drano, with equally unfortunate results. So despite my best efforts my poor husband was finally called in to disassemble the sink, which was now clogged with regurgitated fish parts *and* puke *and* Drano.

Guys? I have the best husband. Because even though he said he wasn’t grossed out by the fish barf, I know he kind of was. Wouldn’t you be? I mean, *I* was grossed out by it and it was *my* barf. BARF THAT SMELLED LIKE YACKED-UP FISH. SMOTHERED IN DRANO.

And while I’m bestowing glowing words upon my husband, I think I should also mention that we didn’t have any rubber gloves in the house at the time. I’ll let that sink for a moment.

*a moment*

Yeah. Exactly. EWWWWWWWwwwwwwwwwwwww.


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Photo credits:
The copyright holder of this work releases this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. 16:31, 27 February 2006. Owner: Zserghei. Title: Atlantic cod live. Category:Gadus morhua. — Modified

51 Replies to “fish barf”

  1. Oh….I remember those days.

    Never clogged a sink though.

    I worked in downtown Cincinnati when I was pregnant with my first son. Bus fumes made me puke. I puked in so many garbage cans downtown. 27 years later, if I”m walking downtown I will think to myself…I puked there like 4 times when I pass the garbage can near the building I worked in.

    1. Some day I will tell my childbirth story but the McDonald’s breakfast/throwing up in dumpster factors heavily into it. I had hyperemesis so bad that I actually had to have Zofran in my IV on the delivery table. And I threw up twice during the delivery anyway. Good times.

  2. Zofran and I were best friends throughout my pregnancies. But I had to stop taking it quite abruptly when I got completely backed up for days. And then took the wrong kind of product to help. And then got even more backed up. And then birthed the most giant poop known to human kind.

    Oh, this isn’t about me? (Your husband is indeed very awesome. And I will never eat fish and ships ever again.)

  3. Have I told you lately how amazing you are? I almost recreated part of your scene while laughing! (Not the horking part, just so ya know.)
    I’d give your Hubby a high-five, but fish-and-draino hands never go away. *giggle snort*

  4. You made coffee come out my nose. That shit is not cool, man. Also, I have a big blue bowl too! I knew we were somehow separated at birth.

  5. Holy mother of god, that’s worse than anything that happened to me in three pregnancies, including going into labor with my daughter because my appendix was nasty, and I was barfing from that. My pregnancies were like a skip through a field of clover and daisies compared to that, including the one where I carried twins for 34 and a half weeks. Although full disclosure–I never ate fish and chips when I was pregnant. You have my deepest sympathies, lady.

    And your husband is a total fucking saint.

    1. He is a total fucking saint. I should also mention that I only had sex with him TWICE during the entire nine months because I felt so nauseous and shitty all the time. True saint.

      I like to think I’ve made up for it since, though 🙂

  6. Sarah, I can’t thank you enough for being brave enough to admit to peeing while barfing. It happens to a “friend” of mine all the time. And she isn’t pregnant.

    1. Oh girl. I am the QUEEN of peeing my pants. Check out my “pelvic organs? come on down!” series if you want to read all about the pelvic prolapse that made me essentially incontinent until I recently had surgery to correct it. It SUCKED!

  7. You poor thing! How did you not barf even more while cleaning up the mess?!

    “Morning sickness” is such a silly term. As if it were just in the mornings! My husband took a very similar picture of me lying in bed with 2 cats, a dog and the barf bowl during my first pregnancy. I’m fortunate that I was nowhere near as sick as you were, but….When I was 8 months pregnant we decided to take a last hurrah trip to the ocean. It was also our first wedding anniversary and we stopped and saw my parents-in-law on the way, who gave us some pampers (since 1st anniversaries are paper). Later we stopped for lunch and I had clam chowder. You might see where I’m going with this….When we got back on the road I started to gag, but convinced my husband that he didn’t need to pull over–that I wasn’t gonna barf. Once I got to the point of no return I rolled down the window and tried to aim outside, which was a stupid thing to do because it just blew the barf back into the car. EVERYWHERE. This is where the Pampers came in quite handy, because my husband used several of them to clean the car while I waited by the road side feeling sorry for myself. He was gagging himself while trying to reassure me that everything was OK. He rocks, obviously.

    I’m looking forward to hearing your childbirth story (although I do wish I hadn’t read this one while eating breakfast). Awesome post! Enjoyed the Rhett and Link portion, too. Rhett and Link, Cumberbatch, Dr. Who…you’re my kind of girl!

  8. Dang Girl, the fish barf is gross like seriously gross. And you said yak! hahaha I haven’t heard that in a long time. So glad you are feeling better! (Hahahaha)

  9. Oh my Lord! I had morning sickness, but holy hell. Can you eat fish and chips now? There are still things that I can’t eat because they made me sick when I was pregnant–wheat chex is the big offender. I still can’t smell a particular whole grain bread without feeling queasy.

  10. 1) Yuck.

    2) I had awful morning sickness with both of my pregnancies, so I empathize. I swear I ate nothing but saltines and mashed potatoes for 7 months each time. Fortunately, it wasn’t to the point where I needed meds, but it did mean that I gained only about 10 pounds over the 9 months. With my second child I had acquaintances who were shocked I had a baby because they had never realized I was pregnant. Despite seeing me right up to the 9 month mark.

    1. 1) You ain’t kidding!

      2) Yeah. I *really* did not want to go on meds, but I was starting to dehydrate and not get enough protein, so my OB-GYN insisted. I made it until 16 weeks without meds, though!

  11. Aww, what a champ! I also had horrible morning sickness with my first. It was SMELLS for me. Too much perfume? Barf. Cooking meat? Barf. Morning breath? Barf. So pretty much, I had to live in my room, with NO smelly stuff ANYWHERE near me. Not easy. I am really glad my next 3 pregnancies just had “normal” morning sickness. Ugh.

  12. My daughters, now in their 20s, know I had morning sickness. However, I only had it for three months or so, thank god. I will never let them see this post, because I would like grandchildren someday. I have to ask, did you have any more kids? My husband always said “forget hormones” must kick in after women have a baby because so many of us actually go on to have more babies.

      1. Well, didn’t I just put my foot in it. I am so sorry about that. I know how miserable I was for there months, I couldn’t even imagine being that sick for nine months. It would have been a significant factor in any decision of mine to have more children, and I wondered if it was something you considered as well. Of course, I didn’t even thing about other factors….but should have. Our second daughter (who is fine now, I am happy to report) had health issues and because we never could pin down what caused them. we decided to not have any more children. Again, brain engaged after I was done typing and I apologize for that.

        1. YOU DID NOT PUT YOUR FOOT IN IT! It’s no secret that I have epilepsy. Epilepsy and anti-seizure meds boost the risk of birth defect. We rolled the dice once, but were too afraid to roll them again, especially after I turned 35 and became “geriatric”.

          And now I have no uterus so it’s not even a thing! 😉

          (Don’t apologize for asking frank questions on this site. That’s what this place is for!)

  13. EW. But totally been there. Peeing on the floor while barfing while pregnant? Check. Puking chunks into a sink and clogging the drain? Check. Mine was a huge unchewed chunk of Taco Bell burrito. Not even sure how that made it DOWN much less UP. Also not sure which is more disgusting – fish chunks or one huge burrito chunk. Call it a tie?

  14. Having just endured a totes fun E. coli infection, I appreciated the accuracy of your diarrhea description: “take all your clothes off and hang onto the sides of the toilet seat for dear life.” I laughed out loud. But then I winced, remembering the potty times.

  15. OMG I laughed so hard. I’m dyinggg. But not barfing, thankfully, or pissing on the floor. And then when I thought I’d finished reading I spotted the tags… barf, fish, fish barf. I want to write a post like this JUST SO I CAN HAVE FISH BARF IN MY TAG CLOUD.
    You are a genius.

  16. OMG, I am SO so sorry that this happened to you….and that I cannot stop giggling at your descriptions. Holy gag, I remember those days.

    Did you ever have the experience of being nauseated, but starving and eating something you knew would make you yarf?
    I ate most of a can of almonds whilst preg with the Girl. Think I was about six months along or so. I knew they were going to make me sick, but they were so tasty and I kept thinking “Maybe if I get enough food in me, I won’t throw up.” (Hormones. They can make a person do some stupid-ass shit, yo). When the inevitable puke arrived, it clogged in my throat in a big ball of smoky almond paste. I could not breathe and I could not get it to go back down. It was beyond awful. My then-husband did the only thing he could do -as you cannot Heimlich a preggo safely- and whacked me sharply on the back. It exploded out of me in a festive sort of way.

    As it turns out, regurgitated almond paste is almost *impossible* to get out of cheap apartment shag carpet.

      1. Danke, doll. It was pretty horrific at the time. 15 years later gives me the perspective to giggle at my foolish self and lens it through humor. Like you do with horrific shit.

        Also, I am deeply honored to have briefly grossed you out. The chunky-fish-Drano barf story had me doing the ::awwGODjibblies:: dance. 🙂

        1. I just did that dance myself (I had to irrigate my nasal passages and I HATE IT!)

          Lol. The thought of anything sticking anywhere in the body really grosses me out. I can barely think about gallstones or tonsil stones without horking.

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