Two nights ago, as I was working on a blog post, I heard seals barking back in the girls’ bedroom. This was concerning to me because I don’t generally keep seals in the girls’ bedroom, or you know, any room in my house. A couple minutes later, Lexi came shuffling out of her room, and in between her seal-bark coughs, she cried that she couldn’t breathe. I calmly led her into the bathroom, put a pillow on the floor for her to lie on, and turned on the shower as hot as it would go. She lay in the steam while I grabbed her some Motrin, and wondered how I got so calm about these things.
I mean the first time one of my kids awoke in the middle of the night with that tell-tale croupy cough, I freaked out and called the pediatrician’s answering service. When the doctor called me back, his groggy, sleep-laced voice gave me the advice to put him in the bathroom with steam and/or take him outside to breathe in the cool night air. Then he told me I was an idiot new mother and he immediately fell asleep before he actually hung up. I kept the phone off the hook and listened to him snore for a while because I was certain I was going to need to talk to him again when my child stopped breathing and I figured it would be easier to scream into the phone to awaken him as opposed to calling the answering service all over again.
But now that I have more kids, am more experienced, am sane, I know that as scary as that barky sounding cough is, croup is no big deal. Until it spreads to another kid. And another kid. And another one. Germs: the one thing my six kids share. Then it’s the broken record that just keeps repeating.
“I need more Motrin.”
“Can I go in the shower again?”
“I want a cool washcloth because my eyes burn!”
“My nose is stuffy.”
“Can I have some chicken soup?”
“I want Jello.”
“No, not green Jello; red Jello.”
“No, I changed my mind. I want pudding.”
“My lips are try.”
“My throat hurts.”
“Sorry, I just sneezed on your computer, Mom.”
I’d love to finish this story, but Lexi and Brooklyn just got up, crying to me that they can’t stop coughing. I imagine this virus will have made the rounds through all six kids and me by sometime in June, at which point, strep throat will take over. It’s the way it works in big families.