Crawling, Clapping and Croup

Crawling, Clapping and Croup.

Crawling, Clapping and Croup

So I guess there is a first for everything and it just so happens that 3 things took place all on the same day. That’s how we do things in this family- I guess.

My baby girl finally learned to crawl. It was tentative and shaky at first but within mere hours she had mastered the ability to shake that booty and motor along! Then she opened her palms and started clapping- same day! Unbelievable. I couldn’t believe my eyes and I was so proud of her. I felt like she had just won the Nobel Prize. I know every other baby out there does these things but seeing her do them, my heart was about to burst. I am a staunch believer that she will do things in her own time but to see her achieve so much in the span of hours, wow. Just wow. I nuzzled her, cuddled her and couldn’t stop kissing her and that’s when I noticed something very odd- her nose was runny and she was stuffed up. I know she’s teething so I justified it in my mind. Today was a big day for her with all the new skills she acquired it was time for some much needed shut-eye. Off to bed we went as I went through the nightly routine of diaper changing, putting on the lullabies, drawing the curtains, reading the book and cuddling. Everything was fine, she fell asleep then at 11:30 pm, my world shifted and I found a new definition for the word “fear”.

My husband went upstairs to do the usual check on the baby to see if she’s ok and then I heard him summon me on her monitor. I rushed upstairs to find her in his arms and he asked me to hear her breathing. She sounded like a 60 year old smoker or a creature straight out of SeaWorld. She was having difficulties breathing and she was wheezing terribly. I didn’t know what to say or do so I did what any other panicked parent would do- I googled “Baby sounds like a seal”. The surprising forum replies all led to a few possible diagnoses- Asthma, allergies or a virus. This did nothing to calm my racing heart and I went back to my rational, calm husband who was still holding my daughter gently and wondering where I disappeared off to. He gently asked me to call ‘Telehealth” and ask a nurse what we should do. Clear, decisive, rational solution – WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT HIM??

So I call and the nurse can hear her hoarse breathing on speaker phone. She tells me that she will now transfer me to 911 because anytime a baby is struggling to breathe, it is a medical emergency. But we live 7 minutes away from the hospital. It would probably be faster to strap her in and go but the nurse’s next words will never be erased from my memory “If she stops breathing, the ambulance will have a way to revive her”.

All of a sudden my reality shifted and I was sitting in a wheelchair in the ICU staring at my newborn daughter with tubes and needles stuck to every tiny body part. I felt the same dread and despair at that moment with those few simple words. In my heart, my emotions raged and my mind was fragmented with negativity. I gave our home information to the dispatcher and mechanically dressed and packed her bag. I waited by the door and met with a paramedic who preceded the ambulance. He said that he is on his own and sometimes arrived faster so her can diagnose “urgent” cases. My baby was one of those “urgent” cases. I guess he avoided the word that any mother would be unable to bear- “Possibly FATAL cases”.

We sat her down on the bench as she sweetly and innocently sought to make sense of the weird turn of events and the stranger who is clamping a device on her toes connected to machine with a screen that has lines that go up and down. She smiles sweetly at her daddy and me then turns her attention once again to the screen as if deciphering some secret code. The paramedic tells us her heartbeat is strong and that she looks good but her breathing is -yes- laboured. It was so loud and so obvious that I felt the impolite urge to say “Really Einstein?” I held back. We might need him, it’s ok. Then as if in a dream, I looked outside our door and the ambulance had arrived. A young man and beautiful woman were at my door with uniforms and amidst the haze I heard them say “Ok, so we will take her in the car seat in the ambulance and mom, you can come with us. Pack her some toys and maybe some reading materials for you because it might be a bit of a wait”. Before I knew it, my baby girl in her little blue car seat was placed on the stretcher in the ambulance and strapped in. She looked so small and so pale under the harsh hospital-like lights in the truck. I sat across her but was unable to touch her because the bench is so far away (it may have been a foot away but it felt like miles to me). All I wanted was to hold her and make everyone and everything go away. Have her breathing normally again and sleeping in her crib then waking up to her beautiful smiling face with red cheeks and sloppy, drooly grin. But here we were riding in the back of an ambulance and going to the hospital for the first time. A dream that turned into a nightmare.

We arrive at the emergency bay and she is promptly checked by a nurse and we are sent to the fast track section. Operative word “fast”. However, they must have no idea what the word means because we waited from midnight to 3:45 am with a sleepy, somewhat confused, cranky-ish, hungry and finding-it-difficult-to-breathe baby. Every nurse that came by told her what she had- croup. The beautiful lady from the ambulance told me that too. She said that both her kids got it and that it is a virus. If it is really severe, and worst case scenario, the doctor would administer oxygen with epinephrine in it to relax the throat allowing her to breathe easier. I was still mollified at the wait and this intense rage in my heart at my baby’s discomfort was brewing like a deathly storm. Despite all the waiting and the fatigue, my baby girl was a sweet, charming and charismatic princess through and through. She smiled at nurses and played with those who carried and admired her. She was content to be held and carried and even laughed a few times. She kept trying to sleep but the artificial, fluorescent lights were intrusive. She ate a few cookies and played with some toys. Then the doctor was called away on an emergency and we saw the ambulance come in as well as the cops and there was blood, then the curtains were drawn and we were asked to sit down and stop spying.

Then the doc returns and calls in himself (usually the nurses did that). Finally, it was time for the verdict. I felt the black rage inside toil as we entered in one of the ‘rooms’. The teeny patient had JUST fallen asleep and he apologetically told us that he would have to wake her. He unzipped her sleeper and listened for her heartbeat then her back then looked in her ear and briefly opened her mouth to see her throat. Diagnosis: Croup. Common virus for babies, hers was extremely mild. He is going to give her an oral steroid and will send us home. We should sleep next to her and listen for her breathing but she should recover within a few hours and be left with flu-like symptoms for a few days. That’s it. She is beautiful by the way, he says and leaves. 4 hours wait for 90 seconds check-up.

A nurse comes in, forces a needle full of clear liquid down her throat and she is gone. We take our baby girl home and I spend the most sleepless night since her birth next to her in the guest bedroom. I wake up every twenty minutes to check her breathing. I fondly remembered doing this when she was younger because I was deathly afraid that SIDs would claim her life. I even wrote about it in an earlier blog but now, I was ordered by the doctor to do this. My insanity is justified.

Needless to say she was breathing fine. After a long and horrible night, I finally managed to fall into deep sleep at around 8 am and then at 9 am, my little angel sat up and started groping my nose and pulling. I open one eye and there before me is Ms. smiley-drooly-sloppy-grinny-red cheeked princess. I couldn’t be happier. Despite my exhaustion, I sweep her into my arms and I don’t think I recalled a more joyous moment in my life. I realize now that relief is another word that changed definitions in my heart and mind. I felt a sense of calm and a burden lifted that I can’t describe. Imagine walking around with a severe ache for years then one morning you wake up and it’s gone. Just gone. Wow.

I prayed throughout this ordeal and I still pray now. I prayed to God that she gets better and that this illness is fleeting with little effect on her future or long-lasting repercussions. I prayed that she will breathe and smile and drool again normally. I prayed that I will see her so full of vitality and energy as she tries to crawl across the room. I prayed that she masters the skill of clapping so that we can groove together to music videos.

I prayed and He answered. I am thankful and so grateful that everything is ok.

On that topic, today she is doing amazing. She is crawling everywhere she shouldn’t be and it doesn’t look quite so awkward anymore. She knows how to sit up from a lying flat position but doesn’t really look before planting her butt down. She sometimes sits on objects or walls and gets really disgruntled. It is actually hilarious to watch her trying to park her keester only to have a shelf or wall stopping her from landing. She is also clapping gleefully and incessantly now. She heard me hum and there goes the hands. I turn on a toy and she’s clapping again. She claps to commercials, theme songs and even the birds chirping. Thank goodness we don’t have one of those clap-on clap-off lights- just saying.

I wrote this painful blog to tell you that it will happen. You will have to face fear and demonstrate inhuman endurance to protect your child and find a cure. Again, I gain a new appreciation for parents who had children with learning differences and physical disabilities. I know that God grants each of us the strength to face what we need to in order to ensure that our baby gets through it.

I am not proud of the rage or the despair. I am proud of my husband who kept me grounded and who calmed me with his unwavering faith and inherent strength. I am thankful, blessed and happy to have shared this with you.

If you feel the need to share your experience, do so. If not, thank you for your time and God bless.





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