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All crouped up
Last night I was awakened by a sound that strikes fear in the heart of parents.
It wasn't the screams of a child being murdered in their bed, or the terrifying silence that accompanies an injury (like the classic battle: Gravity vs Toddler-Staircase Edition) and serves as a handy panic placeholder for that split second you're not sure if the child is unconscious or still busy inhaling all the oxygen in solar system to better convey how very un-fun that experiment was for them.
It wasn't the sound of midnight vomiting either, although I know personally that that can mess up a REM cycle like nobody's business. Nor was it the dreaded nighttime "ack-see-dent" where one little error in judgment ("Well, I was dreaming I was on the potty!") translates to an entire stripping and washing of the linens as well as the guilty party.
I've dealt with all these noises before (minus the murdered in the bed one) and would have chosen any of them over what I was hearing in our house: the sound of a seal barking. If we lived near a zoo, that would be a perfectly acceptable wake-up call, since we don't it could only be one thing: croup.
Croup is one of those childhood diseases that always seems to manifest late at night when everything is scarier. Out of nowhere, your slumber is broken by the unearthly sound of a child barking and wheezing for breath. After a trip to the E.R., you'll learn that one of the best treatments for croup is for the child to sit in a steamy room (your bathroom with a hot shower running until the wallpaper falls off the walls will do the trick) then go outside and breath in cool, night air. In fact, an annoying aspect of croup is that just the trip to the E.R. sometimes makes the symptoms go away, just like when your car stops making the grinding/whirring/exploding noise when you've finally taken it in to the mechanics.
At the E.R., doctors will likely give your child a breathing treatment as well as some medication to help open their airways. I'm pretty sure this is done in the form of liquid crack cocaine, because no matter how late it is, the kid will be wide! awake! blur of movement and yammering. Any other time, this would be a source of great entertainment, but for all their education, doctors never seem to remember to give exhausted parents this magic medicine to help keep up with the croup kid. I've resorted to popping in a movie at 2 a.m. and then crashed on the couch with a toddler after a croup E.R visit, thinking eventually he'd nod off too, only to be awakened by request for another when the credits rolled.
However, the one time you get cocky and skip the E.R. step (and payment plan) is when steam won't work and your child ends up hospitalized, ASK ME HOW I KNOW!
Yep, I'd take a good old fashioned stomach flu or masked figure lurking in the backyard any day over a kid with croup.