You couldn’t have written it to unfold any scarier.

The weekend had been great. We went to sleep with every intention that we’d wake up with just another Monday, despite an ice/snow storm raining down through the overnight hours.

But as the clock switched over to midnight, the baby suddenly awoke in his crib, making a gurgling sound as he coughed, sounding like he was gasping for air. We tried to comfort him but the more he coughed, the more panicked he became, which just compounded his fear and anxiety.

I am sure that as time goes on there will be situations where I feel even worse, but I’ve never felt more helpless than having your baby look at you, not understanding what’s going on and why they can’t stop this feeling, this coughing, why they don’t feel right, and looking to you for help and you can’t do anything to help him.

Meg’s mom even showed up around one in the morning to lend a hand, but there wasn’t a lot that could be done for him at that time other than wrapping him in Meg’s arms, rocking back and forth with a cold mist humidifier spewing, and he eventually fell back asleep, his cough lessening as he dozed.

First thing in the morning, we called our pediatrician, only now we had added a fever of over 100 and vomiting to the mix since the nighttime. We were able to get an appointment 45 minutes from when we called and rushed out of the house and to the office to get him looked at.

The culprit?

The doctor says none other than “the croup.”

It’s a respiratory condition that comes from a viral infection in the upper airway. In fact, our pediatrician drew a very nice picture on the paper sheet in the examination room of the respiratory system and how the virus effects the system. I’m kicking myself for being lost in the worried-parent moment and not taking a photo to use on this blog because it was such a good sketch, but what can I say? I was more focused on the little guy and what was wrong than I was thinking of turning that experience into a blog post.

Anyway, the virus effects the upper airway and causes swelling in the throat, interfering with normal breathing and creating that barking cough. The symptoms also are known to be more persistent at night.

I’m no stranger to the croup. It was something I was all too familiar with in my own childhood, even tackling it in years when I was much older than our little guy. I remember many a night of being carried outside into the cold by my parents on a chilly winter night to break up whatever was building inside me, or the numerous times when I was mobile on my own and had to sit with my head above a pan of hot, steaming water with a towel over my head as I inhaled.

It wasn’t pretty, but then, as we sat there with our seven month old baby intermittently smiling and barking like a baby seal, I realized, it never is pretty.

This week we’re alternating taking sick days to stay home with the little guy, as the doctor prescribed 2-3 doses of a non-albuterol version of a nebulizer. It’s awful watching the uncomfortable, sometimes scared look on the little man’s face as we put this mask on him for the breathing treatments.

We’re just hoping that in the days ahead, he will begin to feel better and breathe easier.

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