There is nothing worse than feeling exhausted, getting to sleep early and being awoken by a sick child, except for realizing you have a sick child. Somewhere in a semi-deep sleep, I heard what I thought was a dog barking. My husband, also hearing the noise, asked with a tone of disbelief in his voice, “Is that her coughing?”
Every fiber of my being wanted to deny that it was one of our children. I let my husband get up to investigate. Unfortunately, the barking got much worse and was intensified by wailing. I sprang out of bed to join him in our 14-month old daughter’s room. It was obvious she had a bad case of croup.
Having gone through it previously with our son, we knew to go outside in the cool night air and/or run the hot water in the bathroom to get it steamy. We did both. She calmed down and the coughing subsided eventually, giving way to heavy breathing with a lot of wheezing. She managed to sleep for a couple of hours, and then it started up again. We soon were back in the steamy shower trying to quell the stridor.
As a mom who has comforted kids through ear infections, fevers and stomach viruses, I find croup to be the scariest illness to endure. I can clean up vomit (and everyone always seems to feel better immediately after throwing up) or hold my child’s lifeless body until the Motrin or Tylenol kick in to fight the fever, but how do you quickly, easily and assuredly get a child breathing effortlessly again? It’s perplexing and terrifying.
Somehow, in the moment of needing to be alert and provide comfort to a sick child, all sense of tiredness dissipates and parents’ priorities shift. Being a light sleeper, I was doomed given the heavy breathing coming through the baby monitor, but my maternal sense of worry wouldn’t have allowed me to get the rest I intended earlier. I lay in bed listening for sounds of distress signifying that my daughter would need us again.
I also laid there knowing the next day would warrant a phone call to the doctor, which turned into a visit to the pediatrician’s office and then a trip to the pharmacy for medication.
It also meant a lot more coffee.