Croup

The last two days around here have been pretty eventful and by “eventful” I mean mostly in mom ways.

Monday evening Abbott started developing a cough – it was dry and infrequent so I sort of chalked it up to…being a baby and developing immunities? He slept okay – not his best – but he still only woke up twice and a pacifier did the trick both times. His cough was a little more prominent the next morning but still nothing too worrisome, so we took him to school. Cut to 1:30 pm. My phone rings, it’s Abbott’s teacher and immediately I know – because, as weird as it is, moms usually do. Of course, the cough has escalated. She says he seems content but he’s coughing a lot and it sounds very painful. When a teacher who’s been working with babies for nearly two decades takes time out of her day to tell you your kid’s cough sounds painful, you know your next stop should be the pediatrician.

So that’s where we went.

After three different phone conversations with the front desk and nurses, I was finally told to bring him in – worried it could be croup, they’d find time for him. So, I go pick up the boys from school and head to the doctor. Once we get there, as I’m pulling Matty out of the car and I get a strong whiff of something unpleasant. Not a big deal, though. As I pulled Abbott out of the car, I noticed Matty grabbing at his diaper and a small wave of panic came over me.

“Are you poopy? Turn around, please.”

Matty turned around and I could very clearly see that he wasn’t only poopy – we were smack dab in the middle of blow out city. And I was 99% sure I didn’t have any spare clothes. After digging around in the car and the heat, I finally gave up and made the executive decision that he’d just have to romp in his diaper. So, we get up to the entrance of the building and there is a sign that reads, Due to increased cases of mumps, we strongly recommend everyone wear a mask inside. In the entry way there was a mask and hand sanitizer dispenser. I grabbed a mask and put it on. I grabbed another mask and put it on Abbott. I grabbed a third mask and Matty started backing away, towards the door. Getting him to wear a mask turned into an awkward wrestling match and all I could think was, Fucking Jesus, I hope he doesn’t get shit everywhere. We wrestled and I did my best to coerce him and finally something clicked, he saw Abbott peacefully wearing his mask and, just like that, everything was fine (toddlers are fun). We walked in and hightailed it to the bathroom. At this point I was sweating and, thanks to our very visible wrestling match, cursing my lack of spare clothes. We got into the bathroom, I set Abbott’s car seat on the vanity, put Matty on the changing station and began clean up…

There was shit everywhere – on his clothes, on his legs, on his shoes, on my hands….everywhere. But we were managing…until I realized I had no diapers for Matty. WTF. I had just spent 5 minutes strategically wrestling a mask on this kid so as not to get shit all over the place and now I was going to have to somehow leave him in the bathroom, on this janky changing station to find a diaper. I AM THAT MOM, RIGHT NOW. I looked at Matty, feet in the air completely bare from the waist down. I couldn’t leave them in the bathroom – at most I’d be able to open the door and flag down some assistance. WHO AM I?! That was actually my only option, so that’s what I did. I opened the door and caught one of the office receptionist’s eye.

“HI, DO YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE A DIAPER? I RAN OUT.”

I am yelling because the waiting room is suddenly a war zone of impatient children and exhausted parents. The woman yells back and asks what size, I tell her and she’s gone. At this point Matty starts wailing and kicking frantically, obviously (and understandably) unnerved by his mother’s incompetence. So, there I am holding the door open with one foot and keeping the other as close to the changing station as possible, trying to calm Matty down and anxiously waiting for the receptionist to reappear. Matty is in full-blown panic mode at this point. My mask is entirely full of sweat and I’m one minute short of having a serious armpit issue, when I hear a woman ask, “are you okay?” I have bad hearing and since everyone’s wearing masks I can’t tell where it’s coming from. I scan the room like a starving child and I see a petite woman, holding a toddler, standing at the receptionist desk staring at me.

“YES, I’M JUST OUT OF DIAPERS AND -”

“I HAVE ONE! A THREE?”

And without anymore words, she’s handing me a size three diaper. I graciously take it even though it’s a size smaller than what Matty usually wears. At this point I’d risk putting a fucking loincloth on him. I put the diaper on Matty and he starts to calm down. There’s a knock on the door. It’s the receptionist with a size 4 diaper and a pack of wipes. I graciously accept those, too, because I’m not about to tell her that she probably just ran around the building looking for a diaper for nothing. When we FINALLY leave the bathroom Matty’s butt cheeks are hanging out and I’ve nearly forgotten why we we’re here, but we’re all alive and i remind myself that’s what counts. I check Abbott in, return the wipes and find a seat. I then watch this little girl bully Matty around at the chalk board until Abbott’s name is called. Sorry, Matty.

The doctor checks Abbott out and decides he’s fine but has an ear infection. We get a prescription and head on our merry way.

The next morning (yesterday) Abbott sounds like he’s barely breathing and his cough is horrendous. I start clamming up just thinking about going back to the doctor but we do…because that’s just what you do. We get to the office, put on our masks and wait for our name to be called. This time Abbott is diagnosed with croup, in addition to his ear infection, and is given a steroid shot.

These are the joys of parenting.

So today I’m working from home with Abbott and, today especially, I’m super grateful to have that luxury. Seth, because he took a new job while I was pregnant and chose to use 99% of his built-up PTO as his paternity leave (for a whole whopping 5 days), doesn’t have the ability to stay at home when the boys are sick without digging himself into PTO debt – which makes me even more grateful because I don’t know what we’d do. And I know there’s nothing he can do about it, so I don’t say much but can I, just for a second, mention how shitty paternity leave in this country is? It’s so absurd. Shouldn’t we encourage every parent in this country to be a part of their baby’s lives? Shouldn’t we encourage women to strive for both success at home and in their careers? Shouldn’t we, as a country, support our families and do everything we can for them to thrive? I just don’t get it. Bonding isn’t an exclusive need – both parents need and should have that freedom and time.

But anyway, let me leave you with a friendly reminder to hang in there…oh, and to vaccinate your kids.