a load of croup

This has been a very stressful week.

It all started a few nights ago. I honestly, truly can't even tell you what night it was, because my brain is fried right now.

Whatever night it was, the cat went insane. She had the bushy tail and crazed eyeballs, and she ran up and down the stairs yowling for at least an hour. She has what we call The Witching Hour every night where she goes momentarily insane and has to run around howling at the moon to exorcise her demons, but it's typically short-lived. That night, it was not. I almost kicked her out of the house.

We fell asleep awhile later, and I woke up to "BEEP. BEEP. BEEP."

This is it, I thought. We're going down in a blazing inferno. The house is on fire, and either I hold my baby and jump out of a 3rd floor window onto the concrete sidewalk below, or we're going to burn to death.

Turns out, the batteries in the smoke detector just needed to be changed. Also turns out I should probably stop reading so much about the fires in California. The night before this saga, I dreamed that we lost everything in a fire, and the fire chased as we tried to evacuate.

Has anyone else noticed the batteries need to be changed ONLY at night? It's never gone off during the day. Ever. ONLY in the dead of night which makes it 500 times more stressful than it needs to be. Not only are you delirious in the middle of the night, but it is always impossible to figure out which smoke alarm is going off. You have to unhook one, take the batteries out, hear the beeping again, drop a swear word, then continue the process until you find the offender. It never fails that you have to check every single smoke alarm before finally finding which one is going off. It's always the very last one you check. And that beep is so disorienting. Sometimes it sounds like it's upstairs, sometimes it sounds like it's downstairs. Sometime you wonder if it's a neighbor, and sometimes you swear it's right on top of you except nothing's there. It's like The Hunger Games of the middle of the night. Nothing makes sense, all bets are off.

I realize I'm going on a tangent here about smoke alarms, but I am REALLY annoyed by how difficult the whole thing is.

Moving on.

We finally fell back to sleep. Not much later, there was a THUMPTHUMPTHUMP sound that was so loud, I catapulted out of bed and ran into the hall. My first thought was that Gracie fell down the stairs. She was asleep in her crib, so that was out of the question. Then I thought James did, but he didn't. I thought someone was breaking in. I don't think anyone was. We have no idea what happened. Looking back, I think my neighbor pounded the wall next to my head as loud as humanly possible. Who knows. But it scared James almost as much as it scared me, and he's never freaked out. With all that adrenaline, it took me hours to go back to sleep.

So yeah, I've been pretty well-rested this week.

On top of that, we've had a lot going on. A lot of things to figure out and just a lot of life stress.

Tuesday night, I dreamed that I was on vacation, and someone was babysitting Gracie. I happened to spot Gracie and the babysitter, and they weren't taking care of her correctly, so I chased after them yelling. I was so stressed and panicked in my dream that I woke up feeling very upset. The first thing that I heard upon waking was a cough from the room next door that did not sound like a good cough. At all.

I ran into Gracie's room while James got her changed, and she was wheezing and gasping for air. It was terrifying. Her cough sounded horrible. I immediately knew it was croup. She's never had it and I've never been around it, but I just knew from the barking cough that had to be it. We've been very fortunate that she's only had minor colds before, so this was entirely new for us. So many people I know have gone through awful bouts of sickness with their kids, but somehow we've managed to avoid that. I figured her first cold and flu season sans nursing would be a doozy, and so far it has been. James told me a few times that he didn't like her cough at all. After she would cough, she would look up to me and with her little raspy, wheezy, voice would say "Daddy don't wike it. Daddy don't wike my cough." It was HEARTBREAKING.

I had an appointment an hour away yesterday morning, and she came downstairs and ate breakfast and played like normal and sounded better, so I figured we were ok to go. Halfway there, the coughing and wheezing came back worse than ever. I was so panicked I almost drove her straight to a hospital, but I compromised with myself and called the doctor to make an appointment instead. We made it to the appointment and she fell asleep on me. This is UNPRECEDENTED. She hasn't spontaneously fallen asleep on me at any time other than nap or bedtime since she was a newborn. I put her in the car and she slept the entire way home.

We got home, and I was in the kitchen making lunch when she started screaming for me. She ran into the kitchen, looked at me, and projectile vomited everywhere. I almost drove her to the hospital again, but some strange calmness came over me and I cleaned her up, cleaned the floor, and sat on the couch with her to calm her down. She was so hysterical she was hardly able to breathe. And then she fell asleep on me again. I won't lie, I loved it more than anything, but I knew this girl was very sick if she was sleeping the day away. Once she woke up, she looked at me and said "Uh oh mommy, I spilled my apple juice on the floor." The last thing she had before she threw up was apple juice (my desperate attempt to get fluids in her), so she told me all day she spilled her apple juice on the floor. So cute, but so sad.

When she wasn't sleeping, she was coughing and wheezing and crying. It was heartbreaking and the most terrifying sound I've ever heard. The croup cough sounds like death and suffocation. It is awful. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, ever. Because I am a drama queen, all I could think about was the scene in Anne of Green Gables when Diana runs to get Anne in the middle of the night because Minnie Mae was dying of croup. I DIDN'T EVEN HAVE IPECAC. (I'm joking, I would never actually use that.) Not that it mattered since she threw up already and it didn't help, but WWASD? (What Would Anne Shirley Do?)

By the time we went to the doctor, she was so lethargic and wouldn't eat, and I was so worried. My nerves were frayed from trying to make sure she was breathing all day. I was too scared to put her down for a nap, so I held her all day so she could snooze upright. She hates the doctor because she still remembers getting shots at her 18 month appointment, so she screamed for a few minutes and then once again FELL ASLEEP on me. I can't stress how unusual this is for her. We had to wait for the doctor for 30 minutes, and on every side of our exam room was a screaming infant getting shots and kids running down the hall hollering. It was chaos, but my poor girl slept soundly through everything. It was sweltering in the exam room, and with a feverish baby on me, my clothes were so wet you'd think I had just showered with them on.

The doctor finally walked in. Our pediatrician was out that day, so we saw a doctor we hadn't seen before. She was INCREDIBLE. She walked right in, saw Gracie sleeping, and said "Isn't it amazing how sick babies create such a powerful physiological bond? You are magic to her right now, I can tell." I burst into tears. She went on and on about how holding our sick babies and loving them is so powerful and teaches them that we'll always be there to help them when things get hard. I sobbed like a baby. I don't know what it was about this woman, but she was like an angel of comfort, and all the stress of the day just hit me. She sat there while I cried and told me to let it out, heard Gracie cough once and said "Oh that's croup. No big deal, she's going to be fine." She examined her and said she's old enough that croup shouldn't be dangerous, even though it sounds like it.

They gave her a steroid in the office to help stop the wheezing. I know people are hard on modern medicine these days in favor of things like essential oils, but I love it. Praise God for steroids and antibiotics. I sheepishly told the pediatrician I couldn't get that scene from AOGG out of my head, and she nicely told me that things are dramatized in books and movies (of course) and that things like scarlet fever and croup are much less dangerous these days with modern medicine. One of the nurses was leaving for the day, and she walked out to the car with me, telling me stories of her son who's gotten croup many times and how scary it is, but that he's always ok and Gracie will be too. We need more kind people like that nurse and doctor. Gracie was still very sick, but I drove home feeling completely calm, comforted, and at peace. I can't thank them enough for calming me down and reassuring me. I was the epitome of a terrified first time mom.

The steroid kicked in, and as the evening progressed, her cough sounded less like a bark and more like a normal cough. We opened her door last night to hear her a little better in case she had a bad coughing fit, and a few minutes later she stood up, walked to the end of her crib, leaned over, and slammed the door shut. That's when we knew for sure she was going to be just fine. And then she amazingly slept 14 hours.

Hopefully she didn't have any bad dreams like her mother.


  1. So yeah, I totally teared up at the part about holding your sick baby. #hormones

    Slamming the door shut...oh my goodness. That kid, lol!!! Sick as a dog and still sassy.

  2. How comforting to have that doctor and nurse! So glad they got G all fixed up. Wish I could snuggle that gal 😍
    I loved her door slam 😂 she’s gotta have her privacy! 😂

    1. They were AMAZING. I want to thank them somehow for being so kind to us.

      She did the door slam again last night, too! Always full of sass.

  3. You made me emotional, too! That doctor is a saint. I'm glad she's going to be okay, but that really does sound like a nightmare.

    I love that attitude.

    One time, when we were living in my mom's basement, a smoke alarm was beeping and I was the only one that could hear it. It ended up being buried in a box for some reason and it took hours to find. That was a long freaking night.

  4. Oh my gosh, the stories about your doctor and the wonderful nurses started making me tear up. I'm glad you both had a good experience at the doctor's office. You guys needed that <3
    Hoping Gracie makes a full recovery over the weekend!!

  5. You need to switch to that doctor ASAP. You needed her when Gracie was a late walker! I hope that sweet girl is better soon. Better rub some (non)essential oils on yourself so you don't get it. ;)

  6. Oh poor Gracie! I'm so glad that all of you are making it through this, it sounds miserable. God bless that doctor, she sounds absolutely precious and amazing. And I love your WWASD comment :)

  7. i just got teary-eyed about holding sick babies...i would have cried in the doctor's office too! glad gracie is on the mend, sick kiddos are the saddest thing.

    1. Thank you! It was a high-stress/high-emotion day.


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