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Sunday, December 24, 2006  

The Longest Night

The night of December 21 is already the longest night of the year. Add a toddler with croup and it becomes the longest night of your life.

I thought that the first night he had it -- which was Tuesday night -- was going to be the worst, just because we didn't know what was wrong with him or how to help him. All we knew was that he had a fever and was barking like a seal. We called the nurse line early Wednesday morning, and I described his symptoms over the phone. First they wanted him to be seen that afternoon at 1:40, and then after I gave more details, they wanted to see him that morning at 9:10. Always a good sign.

Fortunately, it turned out to be just your basic, classic croup. His lungs were clear, even though those barking coughs sounded like they were coming from his diaphragm. But he was still feverish, and his voice was incredibly hoarse. You don't want to know what a hoarse two-year-old sounds like when he talks. It sounds like quacking.

The sucky thing about being a toddler who's sick with a cough that periodically wakes you up in the middle of the night is that you're really not emotionally equipped to lie there quietly and wait to go back to sleep. The good thing about being a toddler with a cough that periodically wakes you up in the middle of the night is that you don't have to.

Trash was kind enough to take him overnight on Wednesday. She has a cold now. On Thursday, he was more or less mine. All the experts tell you that when it comes to putting a toddler to bed, routine is paramount. That's why it's the same thing every night: cuddle up in the easy chair in his bedroom with either Mommy or Daddy, who will read him a few stories and then put him in the crib when he's too tired to shriek in protest. It works great when you do this every night. It even kind of works when you do it every 45 to 90 minutes. But when it's one in the morning and this is the fourth or fifth time one has gotten out of one's bed to take care of a wailing, barking, snorting child with a 102 temperature who's only an hour or so downstream from his last Children's Tylenol dose, one begins to crave a little novelty. And standing with him in the bathroom while the hot shower runs and steams things up stops being fun after his throat opens up again and you're left holding an impatient kid who just wants to get into the tub now.

Croup is kind of like a time machine. It's almost like having a newborn again, with the waking up every two to three hours to take care of things and his being too upset to speak when you get there. Only it's a thirty-pound newborn, so I guess that's one reason to be grateful that he's not an actual newborn.

I've kind of been regretting that I don't remember the last time we snuggled together on the couch to sleep, mainly because I was pretty sure that the last time was the last time (he's not a big snuggler, usually). But we gave that a shot again on Thursday night, and I was rewarded with a blissful period of rest that stretched from 1:30 a.m. to 4:00, when he lifted his head from my drool- and fever-sweat-soaked t-shirt (his drool and fever-sweat, I hasten to add), and decided to climb down to play.

"I want to get up," he announced.

"People in Hell want ice water," I managed not to say out loud.

Instead I did the bedtime routine, except it ran into a hitch when I tried to leave the room, or even sit down in the easy chair. Long story short, sleeping on a bare hardwood floor for an hour in midwinter isn't something I'd recommend, but at least now I have something to hold over his head when he gets older.

The web research I did on croup told me that it normally lasts 2-3 days, which of course is a filthy lie. He's finally getting better, though. Just in time to enjoy all the stuff Santa brought him last night.

More on that at a later date.

posted by M. Giant 8:46 PM 3 comments


The snuggling is a little reward for me when my three-year-old is sick. Merry Christmas to all of you!

By Blogger Unknown, at December 25, 2006 at 6:39 PM  

Merry Christmas!

Hope M Small is feeling better by now. We ran through a bout of the croup in October, and I'll be thrilled if we never see it again.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 25, 2006 at 9:09 PM  

Your son is only a month and a half younger than my daughter and I have 2 new words for you: Children's Motrin.

We just had the 103 fever trauma of tonsilitis. It was 6.30pm on a Friday night and I'm trying to find an open urgent care covered by my health plan. I told the Dr. that she had been taking the tylenol but it was taking too long to kick in and it wasn't lasting as long I thought it should. She recommended we try alternating the tylenol with the motrin. Talk about Comfort and Joy! Motrin lasts 4-6 hours!! The fever stayed down, and she could actually sleep uninterrupted!! It was wonderful.

Just a tip from another toddler parent. :-)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 11, 2007 at 10:39 PM  

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