Tuesday, April 02, 2013

the Easter that wasn't

the Easter that wasn't

I had fun doing Nico's Easter basket this year, even though almost everything was bought on a whim at Target for around $20 total. I had planned to add some eggs with bunny grahams and goldfish crackers, but as I was putting it all together on Saturday night I changed my mind and didn't add any treats at all. He already had a little bit of candy from the two egg hunts we'd already gone to and my family has a big egg hunt for the kids before Easter dinner, too. Jen suggested on Twitter that we all write Easter basket posts so we can look at each other's next year for ideas, so I took lots of pictures as I was putting it together. I'll write that post, too, but it should probably be separate from this one for reasons that will become clear in a moment.

Here's Nico at 8:00 AM Sunday digging into his loot:

And here's Nico at 2:45 after his cough turned into croupy wheezing and an unfortunate cough-barf incident followed by him lying on the floor and telling me "I'm just tired. I'm just really tired."

You can't tell from the photo, but I took it while he was draped across my shoulder crying while I was trying to nurse Elliott. Saddest bunny in all the land. He briefly rallied after that and even played a funny game of hiding under the blanket and I thought we might get to go to the egg hunt at 4:30. But then he cough-barfed again and fell asleep on the floor of his bedroom. I went to check on him after MB moved him to his bed and his breathing was really awful, really scary. His breaths were fast and shallow and extremely raspy, and every once in a while all his inhales would sound barky. I sat on his bed with my phone, googling "croup hospital" and running down the checklist of symptoms that mean "go to the doctor right now." I posted on twitter, hoping someone else with past croupy-kid experience could advise me.

I'm not an ER trigger-puller and I don't tend to worry overmuch, but this seemed pretty bad. And of course it had to happen on a holiday Sunday, right? I didn't want to drag Nico to the ER to sit among contagious sick people for God knows how many hours when he could be resting at home. He had a follow-up appointment scheduled for Monday morning with the pediatrician anyway. But I listened to his breath barking in his throat and saw how hard his little body was working and 18 hours of waiting just didn't feel right at all. Twitter said to call the 24-hour nurseline if our pediatrician had one, so I called the doctor's office number and got the on-call nurse's cell phone number from the answering service. The after-hours pediatric clinic was closed for the holiday. The two urgent care clinics were closed for the holiday. So at 6:00 we called my mom and asked her to come sit with Elliott. We arrived at the ER around 6:30 and even though the waiting room wasn't very busy, all the staff told us they'd been slammed all day. While we were checking in, one nurse told the other that every room they had was full, but then someone called down as we were standing there and said three rooms had opened up. We got Nico's hospital bracelet and took him to sit in a far corner away from everyone who might breathe on him, but we maybe sat there two minutes before the triage nurse called us back to check Nico's oxygen levels.

He put one of those clips on Nico's finger and plugged him into the machine. I watched his pulse ox number drop from 94 to 92 to 88. The nurse frowned at the readout and said, "I don't think that's fitting him very well. We need to do that again, because if that's right he's going straight back." He dug out a smaller finger-reader that he taped onto Nico's tiny finger and plugged him back in, only to get the same number again. While MB and I nattered on trying to keep Nico from flipping out ("Look, your finger has a red light! It's just like a siren! And that cord looks kind of like the robot they build on I Spy, doesn't it?") the nurse went to the door and told the intake nurse that Nico was getting a room. She seemed a little surprised but he was insistent and bless him for that, seriously. "Sorry to be pushy," he told her, "but I want that room. He's going back right now." That was the worst moment for me as far as feeling afraid, I think. I felt a spike of fear in my stomach that maybe this was not just bad but really bad.

They took us back to a room and put a tiny oxygen mask on Nico's face. Within an hour of arriving they'd given Nico a breathing treatment and ordered a chest X-ray to check for pneumonia. After that there was a lot of waiting because they were so backed up. But Nico did much better after using the nebulizer, so we sat on his bed and read the books I'd tossed into my purse before we left the house. By 8:00 I really needed to pump for Elliott and there was no telling how much longer we'd have to wait, so as much as I hated to leave, I called my dad to come pick me up. MB assured me they'd be fine without me and he was right, but walking out of that ER and leaving my first baby behind so I could go take care of my second baby was really hard.

By the time I finished pumping around 8:45, Nico had been x-rayed and given a steroid shot in his tiny butt. Reportedly he didn't cry at all, only announced "I'm not crying! I'm being really brave!" (Shut up, I just have something in my eye.) Word was that they wanted to wait and see how his pulse ox levels were after a second breathing treatment, and that if they weren't good enough he'd have to spend the night. I sent my mom home at 9:45, figuring if I did have to take pajamas and toothbrushes over to the hospital, I could always just pack Elliott along with me. The doctor read the X-ray and said no pneumonia. We waited some more. Finally, at 10:30, MB texted me to say they were coming home. The ER doctor didn't think he had croup but that he had contracted a bacterial infection. (This morning his pediatrician disagreed and said she thinks it is croup, though it could be symptoms of him developing asthma.)

These certainly aren't the Easter photos I planned to take or the Easter stories I thought I'd be telling. I never dressed the boys in cute outfits and tried valiantly to get a photo of them together. There's no cute picture of Nico hunting eggs in the grass or holding up his Easter basket with a skeptical look on his face. But it's okay, really, because he's fine. He's going to be fine, and that's the only thing that matters.


  1. Poor baby! I hope he's doing better now!

  2. Oh, poor buddy. He's so sweet and brave! Really glad that it turned out to be not too serious and that he didn't have to spend the night at the hospital. I really hope that it's not asthma!

  3. So glad they had an opening!
    You probably know this, but if not--you can buy a (non-prescription) little clip that goes on the finger and you can read the oxygen level yourself. It runs on a little internal battery, and is not hooked up to anything--it's like using a thermometer to take your temp. If they don't make them in child size, I'd be inclined to get one anyhow, and practice while he's well, to find what his normal oxygen level is, and how to take it. It's totally painless. The one I have is "ChoiceMed," which was fine; it also shows your pulse, and when you take your finger out, it automatically (yay! saving the battery) turns itself off. There are undoubtedly others. My understanding, by the way, is that high 90 percents are a fine and normal adult range; don't expect 100%, like I did, and then worry. Children's ranges I don't know anything about, and maybe there is more variability.

  4. So scary! I'm glad he's OK. This will definitely be an Easter you'll remember for years.