We went to bed on Sunday night and A. seemed fine. She had a cold and low grade fever earlier in the week, and I'd taken her to the doctor, but she seemed to have recovered. She woke at 3am as usual. I'd heard her snuffling in her sleep, but once she was awake she began coughing, the barking croup cough. I have had a child with croup before, but not that came on so dramatically in the middle of the night, and not a 6 week old infant.
After each round of coughing, she would pause breathing and then take a big gasping breath. In between coughs she seemed OK, but would start coughing again if not held in a vertical position or if she cried at all. She was able to nurse, held at an angle, and her nose was clear, nothing to suction. I observed her chest for signs of labored breathing known as Stridor, and thought I saw one or two of those type of breaths, but wasn't sure. She was coughing, crying and wiggling, making it hard to tell.
I called my doctor's office and spoke to the nurse on call. She told me to take her to the emergency room to be assessed if I had any doubts or if I even thought I saw the indrawing breathing known as Stridor. I wanted D to come with me but that would mean leaving the kids alone and he was against it. I was afraid that she might have a big coughing fit in the car and stop breathing and I'd need to get her out of her carseat. Also, when frazzled my driving skills plummet. But I went alone at 4am. It is a 15 minute drive and she cried and coughed once but then went to sleep. The ER was dead, so we were seen immediately. Of course, her symptoms had now completely ceased. I almost wished she'd cry to elicit a cough. She only coughed once the entire time, and the doctor wasn't in the room. He was very nice, and said that this was very typical, that croup symptoms subside after the person has been awake for an hour, and that taking her out in the cold air may have helped contribute to her improvement. He gave her a dose of a steroid medication, mixed with apple juice that I fed to her with an eyedropper. This is a new protocol for croup--a single dose of steroid. It has been found to lessen the severity of coughing spells and the duration of the illness.
I arrived home at 6:30am and went back to bed for an hour. The next day was OK. A. slept most of the day, and I took her to the pediatrician. They gave me guidelines for when to take her in the steamy bathroom followed by a walk in the cold outdoors, when to visit the ER, and when to call 911. The next night her breathing was OK, no coughing spells, but she was awake half the night. After 2 nights of 4 hours sleep each, I was now feeling a bit fried, and hung out in pajama clothes/sweats all day. Thankfully the next night she slept much better. She is still coughing today--not improved or worsened. Praying it doesn't happen again. It is hard not to panic with a baby so small.
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