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The Night They Sent The Ambulance - Our Croup Story

Last weekend I had my scariest experience as a mother to date.

J was having a rare night out with the boys. Baby girl had been unwell for a few days and still wasn't her normal self that day but I assured him that we would both be fine. I would get her down to sleep and have a chilled night to myself. Baby girl sounded quite wheezy but we put that down to her having a bit of phlegm stuck in her throat and not knowing to cough. We did the bedtime routine as normal, she fell asleep relatively quickly. J made sure everything was OK with both of us and then head out at 8.30pm.

Silence.


The house felt so quiet with both baby girl in bed and J having his boys night. For 30 minutes I had peace. I put my feet up on the couch and put the X Factor on. It was on, but I wasn't really watching it. For the first time in ages I wasn't trying to catch up on my business, or the blog, respond that whatsapp message I hadn't had time to reply to or the general multi tasking duties of a mother. I didn't have to speak. I didn't have to be mum. So the TV was on but I was just enjoying the peace.

9pm struck and the monitor went off. Baby girl was awake and she was really crying, more so than usual. She was coughing in a way that I hadn't heard before, like a seal and she was in obvious distress. I kept on trying to settle her, and many times I got her to the point that she was shutting her eyes and nodding off but just as quickly as that would happen she would jump up, awake with a pained look on her face. She was starting to get really wound up and I noticed that when she was crying she was struggling to breathe. It didn't sound like the wheezing I'd heard before, it sounded like she was gasping for air. Then she started calling for her daddy. She is a real Daddy's little girl and in that moment she wanted him.

It was about 10.15pm at this stage and I felt terrible that I would interrupt his first boys night in forever but I didn't want my baby girl calling for her daddyy and not having him here so I called him and told him what was happening. Without hesitation he dropped everything and told me he'd be home in 25 minutes.

At this point baby girl was still very distressed and gasping for air so I called 111. I was getting really worried. If you've ever called 111 you would know they go through a series of questions with you about the medical condition, assess it and give you advice as to what you should do. As I was on the call poor baby girl was still beside herself and struggling with her breathing. So much so that the operator I was speaking to could hear her and was offering a lot of sympathy as we were going through the call.

We got to the end of the questions and he asked me to hold the line but didn't put me on hold. I could hear him talking to a colleague about a red one and I had images of someone offering around sweets and him asking for the red one. It got me mad, now wasn't the time for that! He then actually put the call on hold and after a short wait came back to me and advised that looking at all the information I had provided he would be sending an ambulance. The red one? That was how our call was flagged and it's pretty obvious that red means serious.

An ambulance. Panic.

I hadn't received the reassurance I was looking for. Them being worried enough to send an ambulance took my worry levels from 20 to 100 in a moment. That kind of worry about your child is something only a parent could understand and it is truly terrifying.

I prayed that daddy would be home any moment and I took baby girl downstairs out of the darkness, turned on the lights and put a childrens show on TV and wait for the ambulance with her. This actually calmed her down and her breathing started to get a lot better. The paramedic arrived and when he did baby girl was still very wheezy but not breathing as she was when I had called 111. He said her oxygen levels were fine and that all his other observations came back perfect. I was relieved but at the same time the paramedic didn't see baby girl at her worst and I was worried he wouldn't be able to work out what was really wrong with her.

After observing her for 30 minutes he said that listening to her breathing sounded really noisy but that he thinks she just needs a good cough. When it was time for him to leave she was up playing with his walky talky and trying to help him write his notes. He said she was his best patient and that we should monitor her, let her sleep on us upright and if we have any more concerns to either call them back or take her straight down to A&E. Thank goodness J had come home in that time so when the ambulance left he decided he would stay up at watch TV quietly and let baby girl sleep on him.

All of a sudden it was midnight. Things were back to normal and I was shot so I said goodnight to the two loves of my life and fell fast asleep in bed.

I am normally a super heavy sleeper and without the monitor being next to my ear sometimes I even miss baby girl's cries straight away but after what felt like a short nap I woke up to baby girl gasping. It was loud and I could hear it clearly from upstairs.

Gasping. In. Out. In. Out.

Panic set in again and I knew we were going straight to the hospital. I met J at the stairway who was holding her and we agreed we weren't comfortable with that breathing. We grabbed our coats, wrapped baby girl up, jumped in the car and took the 5 minute drive to our local hospital. Again, when we took her out of her sleeping environment she started to show improvements but I just knew something wasn't right.

We got sent to the children emergency department straight away and then got assessed immediately. Her breathing was wheezy again but not like it had been. Her temperature was colder than what it should be but at the same time she was clammy and sweaty. During the assessment she started coughing like a seal again. We were told she had croup.

I was still so worried, I had never heard of such a thing before but as they explained it my worry subsided and relief emerged. Croup is a viral infection and normally starts with cold like symptoms and as it progresses it affects the voice box, windpipe and airways. This causes inflammation and results in breathing problems, loss of voice and horse cough. It can be common in little ones and rarely develops into anything too serious. It can normally be treated at home but should be referred to a doctor immediately if there are ANY concerns with breathing, hoarseness in coughing, body temperature and distress.

In our case they thought baby girl was severe enough to need treatment. This was an oral dose of steroids which reduces the swelling in the throat. She was administered with it, seen by a doctor and observed for an hour before we were sent home. It really had immediate effects and while we were waiting that hour she fell fast asleep snoring away and breathing so much more clearly. When we sent her home we were advised:
  • To give her lots of water
  • To keep her upright as much as possible
  • Try and prevent her from crying  or getting herself worked up
  • Monitor her temperature
We were told that if she started gasping again to pop back in for some more steroids but thank goodness we didn't need to. That one dose did the trick. When we got her home at 7am she had a really long sleep and then slept on and off all of Sunday. The poor darling was exhausted and she just needed to sleep it out.


Four days later and she's back to full strength. I thank God that the cheeky, energetic non stop toddler that was exhausting me two weeks ago is now back in full force. She can be as energetic and tiring as she wants.

If you've got to the end of this post, well done! I debated whether or not to write about it as it feels a little bit like a ramble to me but I decided to do it just in case someone who reads this experiences a similar scenario with their child, and will have a better understanding of it. Had I have been a bit more clued up on croup I wouldn't have got myself in such a panic. Obviously breathing problems are never anything that you just want to just leave but if it were to ever happen again I would feel more comfortable with the situation and know just what to do.

Kat x

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26 comments

  1. Oh my word so scary! I feel for you! I have a 3 and 6 year old and thankfully nothing like this ever happened! I am glad she is back to normal, lets hope this is the only time you have to go through this!

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    1. Fingers crossed! It would be horrible if it was reoccurring. I'm so relieved she is better now x

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  2. I think this is a great post, and I'm glad you did write it out. There are people out there that may need to read this at some point, and you portray a clear image.
    Even though it was a bad thing you still wrote beautifully, so well done, and keep going like that!!!

    myunsettlinglife.co.uk

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  3. Oh Kat, I'm so sorry to hear. What a scary night that must have been for all three of you :( One of my friends has two daughters, the older of whom had Croup fits frequently when she about the age of baby girl and a little older. I've sent her a message and asked her for a few tips and will pass them on as soon as she responds. All the best to baby girl! Xx

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    1. Oh my it would be terrible to have to go that frequently :/
      Yes please do let me know what she says. Hope things are going fabulously for you x

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  4. Poor baby girl - and you and dad! I am so happy she's feeling better now. What a scary thing to go through - there is truly nothing more terrifying than when your child is ill/hurt/etc. Something I just didn't really *get* until I was a parent. And thank you for sharing - it's always helpful (although horrible to go through for you!) to read advice given by the doctors on how to treat croup at home.

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    1. I couldn't have said it better myself love. That feeling is the worst. I'm so glad she recovered quickly x

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing; I had to read this through my fingers, I think we all live in fear of these nights - you coped so well! I was in the dark about croup and have only learnt in the last couple of years that it happens fairly frequently. My niece had it and when I heard I was like, croup? Little Women croup? I really thought it didn't happen anymore. My friend told me recently that her daugter had a couple of episodes and he symptoms also reduced on the drive to the hospital. Thanks for sharing #fromtheheart

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    1. Thank you lovely. It was scary but I'm glad I know what it is now. I would have to agree about the drive to hospital. I think it's the cold air that helps x

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  6. What an ordeal. And it always happens at nigh, right? Thank you so much for sharing #fromtheheart

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  7. I have tears in my eye's, I have had this with my youngest when she was a baby. Its so scary so glad she is ok hun, you must of been so scared. xxxxx

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    1. Awww such a difficult thing to experience. It was totally scary x

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  8. Oh my goodness how scary!! I would have completely panicked! Hope everything is fine now and have no repeats! Take care sweets! Suz x beauisblue.com

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    1. I did panic! If it wasn't for the ambulance arrival who knows what state I would have worked myself up to. She's totally fine now thank goodness x

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  9. How terrible, I am so glad everything is back to normal now. I think we escaped croup but I have friends who didnt and went through a similar experience. You poor things must have been very scary, its reassuring to know that 111 is there when you need them. xx #babybrainmondays

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    1. Yes, I must say 111 were so helpful that night and it's so reassuring to see that they don't take any risks with poorly babies x

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  10. What a scary experience! Glad she's ok now. Big hugs! You definitely did the right thing. Go with your gut! xx #BabyBrainMonday

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    1. Thank you lovely. Yes so true. Going with my gut is how I seem to be getting through this motherhood journey x

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  11. How scary. Glad she's ok. We haven't had croup here, but I remember reading about it in all the confusing information about when to worry about a baby's breathing (the information that caused me to spend several weeks when first had eldest child standing by crib saying 'was that a grunt? What does a grunt sound like?') You're right - always best to get breathing concerns checked straight away. #babybrainmonday

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    1. Oh goodness! Us mums can sure work ourselves up in to a state. For the first 6 months of baby girls life she didn't sleep anywhere but next to me where I could hear her breathing! X

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  12. Oh hun how scary! I read till the end. I'm so glad she's ok! Thank you for sharing this as I also didn't know what croup was so it's good to have some insight. Hope you're all ok. Thanks for linking up to #BabyBrainMonday … see you next week! x

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    1. I didn't realise how common it was until I posted this and so many people have contacted me. It makes me feel even more reassured x

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  13. My daughter's had croup twice,it was awful reading this as it brings it back.That awful feeling in your stomach of helplessness and panic!Glad little lady is ok now xx

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    1. Oh goodness, twice? What a brave mummy. I'm crossing fingers we don't have to go through it again x

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  14. I'm so glad she's better now. I'm amazed the ambulance left, two of my friends had toddlers who were taken to hospital for breathing difficulties and they had good oxygen levels and the panicky gasping of air had stopped. At least if it happens again you'll know to go straight to hospital x #BabyBrainMonday

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