Well, after I updated my blog last night I went to bed. Mary Ella was laying in our bed and I noticed she sounded like she was a little congested. When she inhaled it seemed like she was struggling a bit and so I decided to wake her up and see how she was feeling. When I did, it became very apparent that she was having trouble breathing. She definitely had a constricted airway and was struggling to get a good breath in; she had stridor (noisy inhaling) and was retracting and got very upset, which only made it worse. She started coughing that seal-like barking cough and so I immediately thought "croup" which she has never had before but I knew the symptoms. I knew that moist air would be good for her so I went and turned the shower on full blast and shut the bathroom door so it'd get really steamy; but before I could get her in there, she was getting a lot worse. So I told Chad we were going downtown to the ER (trip # 3 - yay!). I was barefoot and in a t-shirt dress so we grabbed what we could and headed downtown. Mary Ella was trembling the entire way and could barely talk she was so hoarse and constricted. Bless her heart, it was the most pitiful thing I've ever seen. I was shaking, too. When we got there, they took us back immediately (we've really had the best luck with the Children's ER, everyone has been absolutely fantastic!) and the doctor diagnosed her with croup as soon as she got into the room. They gave her a breathing treatment and then some oral Decadron, a long-acting steroid; we were told we'd have to be monitored for 2 hours and then if she was better, we could go home; if not, she'd be admitted. So for the next 2 hours we sat and held our baby girl and prayed to God she'd improve, and thankfully she did. She slept for the last hour (after some Gatorade and an Elmo DVD - thanks nurse Natalie!) and then we were allowed to leave. But the whole experience was so scary and we didn't get home until 4am this morning.
So, I am passing this info along to other moms out there, because this was super scary for me and I wouldn't want anyone to have to go through the panic I felt seeing my child not being able to breathe! Apparently, from what I have read, croup is a viral infection (most of the time) and usually starts out either with a few days of slight congestion, or sometimes none at all, like in our case. Mary Ella had no signs whatsoever of even a cold. Just the high fever. The ER doc told us it usually comes on suddenly, in the middle of the night, and is characterized by the seal-like barking cough and stridor (a really raspy, noisy inhale.) Your airway is constricted and swollen (which is probably why Mary Ella had the red, swollen throat 2 days ago) and the best thing you can do for it is to get your child to some moist air - it can be a steamy shower, or the freezer, or outside if it's cool and humid. But if you've done all that and your child is CALM and STILL has stridor and is struggling to breathe, you need to get medical attention! If your child is fussy or crying and has the stridor/breathing problems, this is ok; its when they are calm that you have to worry about it.
Today she has been fine; no fevers or anything. She got up early (around 9am!) and was full of energy. Her sweet Daddy played baby dolls and kitchen with her and let me sleep, since I'd been up 21 hours by the time we got home last night. She played hard, ate some lunch and is now taking a nap. She sounds a lot better and hasn't coughed a whole lot, but she's also been quite attached to her paci today, so who knows.
Thank you everyone for your prayers for my baby girl. It's hard to see your child go through something like this and I know God's hand was on her last night. Hopefully that info on croup will help someone in the future!