Follow Kveller

You are browsing the archive for croup.

Nov 28 2011

Post-Thanksgiving Gratitude

By at 3:27 pm

"Are you Irish?"

I’ve been spending a lot of time feeling grateful lately, and not just because I’m still enjoying the leftovers from Thanksgiving. My baby girl got croupy (again) on Thursday night, and we ended up back in the emergency room. Sure, I was thankful for the excellent medical care we got, but one interaction I had in the hospital reminded me of just how lucky my family and I are in other ways as well.

The respiratory therapist who came to give my daughter a nebulizer treatment saw her name (Rose) and asked if we were Irish. In a rare moment of self-restraint, I didn’t point out that our last name is Naumburg (not O’Naumburg or McNaumburg), but I did mention that we’re Jewish.

“Ohhh! That’s so cool! I totally have a Jewish friend!” And with that announcement, that nice young respiratory therapist proceeded to goo and gaa at Rosie, all the while talking to her about Hannukah and latkes and apple sauce. I managed to ignore the Jewish friend comment until she finished my daughter’s treatment and wished us “Salaam Aleikum”—a traditional Muslim greeting meaning “peace be with you”.

She was serious. She didn’t know the difference.

All of a sudden I flashed back to my childhood in New Mexico, when I was given ashes on my forehead for Ash Wednesday by my public school teacher. (The possibility that we weren’t Christian was never considered; neither was the separation of church and state, apparently.) I was reminded of the time in college when our dining hall was decorated for Passover with glorious pyramids of freshly baked challah. And I remembered a conversation just last week with a new babysitter. Although we had specifically looked for one who wasn’t Jewish (our previous babysitter was a Rabbi’s daughter, and thus unavailable for Kol Nidrei or Erev Shabbat services), I wasn’t prepared for her complete lack of knowledge of anything Jewish. (Although she was quite eager to learn about “our Sabbath”, as she was interested in some nice young Jewish boy.)

As I sat in that hospital bed, holding my daughter, I couldn’t help but think that I am actually part of the 1%; Jews make up approximately 1.7% of the population of the United States, and just 0.2% of the population of the world. I have lived in a suburb of Boston for over a decade, and as such, I’ve been sheltered, and incredibly lucky. We live within a 30-minute drive of several synagogues, Jewish day schools and preschools, and Judaica shops. The public schools in our town are closed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We can buy Shabbat candles at our local grocery store, and which bakery makes the best challah is a matter of hot debate in our community. I write for an amazing online magazine where I can make reference to Yom Kippur, and none of my readers accuse me of making up a holiday just to get out of an exam (and yes, that’s a true story).

I live in a happy little Jewish bubble, and when it gets burst, I notice it, and it reminds me of just how fortunate my family and I are to have such an amazing Jewish community—both in real life, and online.

Nov 3 2011

We Got the Croup!

By at 4:03 pm
flying superhero woman

When it comes to emergencies, I'm sort of like a superhero.

If anyone had driven by our house at about 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning, they would have seen a small, fuzzy monkey sitting on her Mommy’s lap on the front step.  No, this wasn’t an extension of our Halloween celebrations.  I had wrapped my daughter in her monkey blanket and taken her outside to breath the frigid air because it’s the only thing that helps when she gets the croup (other than a trip to the emergency room, which she has also required at times).

For those of you who are lucky enough to have avoided the croup, it’s basically difficulty breathing as the result of swelling around the vocal cords, usually caused by a virus or bacteria.  It’s most common in infants and children (although my daughter’s pediatrician diagnosed me with it over the phone last winter).  Kids with the croup bark like baby seals when they cough, and when it gets bad, they wheeze.  When it’s really bad, they can’t breathe.  The symptoms usually manifest in the middle of the night (of course they do) and last 5-6 nights.  (Because who needs to sleep for a week when you can stay up all night worrying about whether or not your kid is breathing?)  Treatment at home usually consists of either hot steam or cold air, and of course my girls only respond to the cold, which is why I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit sitting on our front step in winter or sticking my baby’s head in the freezer in the middle of summer.

The croup has been an unwelcome visitor in our home since my girls were babies.  Frieda’s been to the ER at least twice, and Rosie was admitted to the hospital when she was 4 months old.  Listening to my baby struggle to breathe has got to be one of the worst experiences of my life.  Yet, somehow, I feel like I am at my best as a mother in those moments.  Yes, I am anxious and worried, but my anxiety is focused on something real, something actually worth worrying about.  In those moments, when I am holding my daughters, listening to their breathing, watching their chests rise and fall, I am completely present.  I’m not checking my phone or cooking dinner or rushing the girls along.  I’m focused on my baby, on her breaths, waiting to see if the coughing will stop, if the wheezing will calm. Read the rest of this entry →


Recently on Mayim