you know, like my kid. At 11pm. Out of a sound sleep. Well, hello Croup.
Turns out, its just a tiny case of croup. Of course, we didn't find that out until much later when the ER doctor told us that on a croup scale of 1-5, (who knew there was such a thing?!) Ethan was about a .5; yes, there's a "." before the 5, indicating that his case of croup didn't even really merit a 1 on the scale. Apparently on a Crazy Mother scale of 1-5, I rank somewhere around 15. Or 20.
But let's back up to the waking up out of a sound sleep, coughing, barking, gasping, and what have you. We put Ethan to bed after a nice warm dinner of miso soup and sticky rice, his first dose of antibiotics and some Motrin for his fever. He slept for a few hours, during which time Husband tried gallantly to stay awake and catch up with me after a week away on business, even though his body felt like it was somewhere around 4-5am, London time. So I sent him to bed and went to check on Ethan.
I was resting in Ethan's room at around 11pm when Ethan sat up, coughed that awful barking cough, complained that his throat hurt and tried to lay back down. Five minutes later, the coughing started again, enough to wake Husband across the hall. We dug out the Delsym and gave some to the little man. Five minutes after that, all hell broke loose and Ethan's cough rose to the pitch that it was making his vomit--2, 3 times in quick succession. Then there was the terrified crying/screaming which inevitably follows the vomiting, battling for lung space with the barking cough and gasping that would not stop.
I ran to the bathroom to turn on the hot water so we could sit in the steam, like we did 3.5 years ago when Ethan had his first case of croup
lots of steam for the croupy little baby....and really? I took pictures of my kid in mid-croup flare up? Although, neither of them seem too stressed here, so it must have been a calm moment.
But we never got as far as the steamy bathroom this time because through the coughing and puking, Ethan's teeth started chattering and his body started shaking and I was, in my frenetically freaked out state, only able to process worst-case-scenario outcomes, so I over-rode my reliable voice of reason (read: Husband) and told him, I'm guessing now in a voice that really left no room for discussion, that I wanted to go to the ER, and I wanted to go now.
There was much shuffling around for blankets and lovies and underwear. Just a helpful little note: while a bra does not seem necessary in the middle of the chaos before a late night trip to the ER, once things calm down a bit, you're going to wish you weren't flopping all over the place underneath that t-shirt. Believe me.
In a boneheaded, what-type-of-parents-ARE-we move, we headed out of our neighborhood bound for what we thought was the closest emergency room, Ethan shaking in his car seat with a blanket over him, me sitting on a pile of Purim costumes, library books and possibly a dozen matchbox cars strewn across the passenger seat next to Ethan's car seat. We pulled up to the imagined ER, only to find the lights out, the rain-soaked parking lot empty, and the words "Urgent Care" written atop the medical building.
We are ER-virgins as parents. Husband has taken me to the ER on more than one occasion. As a matter of fact, when we lived in DC, he took me 2-3 times in one year (stomach ulcer, flu and something else I can't recall) and it became his little running joke to ask me "do I need to take you to the ER?" for every ache or pain that befell me. Har-dee-har-har, Mr. Comedian. Needless to say, we knew where to find every ER in the metro-DC area, but that wasn't going to help us last night.
So Husband got on the phone with 911, to explain that our son was coughing and having a hard time breathing and that we were sitting in our car outside what we thought was an ER, but it isn't an ER and WHERE THE FUCK IS THE CLOSEST ER???!!! And of course, the 911 dispatcher, trained and effective professional that he was, began rattling off a series of questions concerning Ethan's condition and Husband, apparently by that time feeding off of my mental frenzy in the back seat (which must have been transported to him telepathically because I was all zen calm, soothing reassurance to Ethan. No, really, I was), kept answering him completely and finishing each complete response with, "Please, where is the closest ER?"
Finally we were directed to the closest ER, barely a mile away from where our car was idling in the Urgent Care parking lot. I hustled in with Ethan wrapped in a blanket while Husband went to park. At this point, his coughing had all but stopped, he hadn't thrown up since we left the house and his color was looking relatively normal again. The woman at the desk nodded to a clip board with a questionnaire--"fill that out, please," she said to me from behind glass.
Seriously? Not "I see you have a bundled up child in your arms; what is the matter???!!!" or an offer to write down the information for me while my arms and hands were obviously full of 30lbs of croupy, glassy-eyed preschooler. It was everything in me not to go all Terms of Endearment on her ass, but I really didn't want to freak Ethan out any more than he already was by the situation, so somehow I managed to fill out all our essential information without putting Ethan down or going on an overly dramatic tirade, muttering under my breath the whole time that it was ridiculous that no one would help me until I wrote my kid's full name and reason for our fucking midnight trip to the emergency room down on a piece of paper.
After a few moments, Husband joined us and the "I can't help you until you write stuff down on this piece of paper" lady called us back in to the triage area. She said a few "kind" (read: condescending and obnoxious) words to me about sometimes its best to just be calm and look at the situation rationally. I wanted to say a whole bunch of unprintable things to her and kick her in the shins. But I didn't. I did however apologize for being snappish when I first came in and explained that Ethan's symptoms came on very quickly and out of nowhere and that for a parent, that is terrifying and tends to make you lose sight of the rational. Bitch. (no, I didn't really call her a bitch. But I wanted to. But I didn't. I was very polite.)
Ethan continued to not cough, bark, gasp or throw up for the next 20 minutes while we waited for the doctor to arrive. Obviously, very glad that the episode did not repeat itself, but was becoming more aware by the minute that I was indeed THAT mom, crazy, over-reactive, in the ER at 12:30am on a Saturday night with a kid who had...a cold? Yeah. Poor Husband, his body wracked by jetlag, his eyes barely focusing, Ethan nodding in and out of sleep on the hard ER bed, and me....slowly starting to breathe again and realizing....I am so that mom.
BUT in my defense, this was the first time EVER that we've taken Ethan to the ER. There have been times that I've thought we needed to, but Husband has talked me down and we've dealt with whatever it is in the wee hours of the night and then just gone to the doctor in the morning. I am guessing that his still-on-London-time-spent-12-hours-in-a-plane-today-not-really-even-sure-where-I-am_right-now state of mind made it impossible for him to reason with me in the moment of the barking and the gasping and the puking and the shaking.
The doctor listened to Ethan's lungs, checked out his throat and ears (confirming that indeed his right ear is percolating quite an infection), made Ethan smile a little bit, went over the steam and cold air routine with us, told us as comically and forgivingly as he could to come back if Ethan ever was actually really sick, dismissed us, and then, no doubt, went back to sleep in some empty room on the other side of the ER.
It's 4:30 on Sunday now, and Ethan has yet to even really cough again at all. Ear infection well under control and his temperature seems to be back to normal. But I'm prepared. Tonight I will have extra water in our humidifier, the hot water dial turned way up on the shower for steam if we need it, and a couple of Xanax on the kitchen counter for me to keep the Crazy Mom in me in check.