Winter is upon us, and while it's a beautiful time, it's a frosty season that seems to beckon cold germs, flu viruses and all sorts of nasty bugs. Being a first-time mom, I do worry - possibly a bit too much - about this increase of not-so-joyful germs going around right now.

Recently, my husband, my son Zachary and I, along with our extended family, rented a cabin in Show Low for a long weekend vacation. While I am all for healthy exposure, I'm not a fan of purposely being around somebody who is sick. So I made the rounds before our trip to confirm that everyone going with us was in fact healthy - I didn't want to get sick, and I sure didn't want Zachary to pick up one this winter's hardy illnesses.

Out of the 24 in our family, 15 planned to stay in the cabin. They all assured me they were in fine health.

It was ironic then, that on the second day of our stay, who would come down with a fever but my son? With snow on the ground and frigid temperatures outside, we were all indoors, sharing lots of close contact. Thankfully, it only turned out to be a low-grade fever that actually could have been due to teething.

While I feel terrible for Zachary when he is sick, my family and I somehow managed to find the humor in this situation, since I am usually the one to make sure anyone who is sick keeps their distance from us.

Moments like these make me stronger in realizing that minor illnesses are a part of life, and we are going to be OK.

However, it seems our little cabin episode was the start to our family's sick season. Not long after we got home, my husband got a sinus infection, then Zachary and I came down with colds. Once we got better, my sister's family of four contracted a stomach bug, followed by colds. Soon after, it was my mom's turn for a stomach virus, and another sister and one of her kids have had on-and-off bouts of various illnesses.

Spreading illnesses is part of having a large family - we share our love in many ways, and sometimes it's unfortunately in the form of getting one another sick. I finally voiced my opinion that each individual household among our extended family should stay to itself for a while, just to clear up any illnesses so we don't keep passing things around. It's about time to get healthy.

Hearing from some of my fellow first-time-mom friends, I am relieved to know it's not just me who appears to be a little over the top when it comes to protecting my precious tot from illness. It may be along the lines of a story about bottles one of my sisters once told me: "With the first baby, if the bottle fell on the ground, we definitely got a new one. When the second baby came along, we washed the bottle off and gave it back to him. Next, the third baby, and we picked that bottle up and put it right back in her mouth."

I take that to mean that us first-time moms will realize not only do our first-borns turn out perfectly fine and healthy, but we also become a lot more relaxed as they get older and we have more children.

To everyone venturing out this sick season, take extra vitamin C and make sure to get plenty of rest. Here's hoping that the rest of winter is a healthy one for all!

Email Sarah McKeown at