Toby had a fever and he was breathing very fast, so I called the pediatrician and said, “I’m bringing him in.” Toby is kind of a trooper. When I picked him up he said, “I want to go see Mindy– she’s the nurse practitioner in my pediatrician’s office– she’ll give me medicine and I’ll feel better.”


I felt so helpless and scared
Evan had been crying a lot and been so fussy and cranky all day. By the end of the day I was at my wit’s end. I put him in his crib for a little while thinking he might just cry himself to sleep. After a little while though, when he didn’t stop, I went up to get him and after I got him out, he kept hitching for breath, like you do when you’ve just been crying, except the hitching never stopped. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. Of course, by this time his doctor’s office was closing and they told me it was probably an ear infection, and I could either wait until morning and bring him in or take him to the ER. I had almost convinced myself to wait until the morning– who wants to spend hours at the ER for an ear infection?

After just a short time though, I knew something else was wrong, so I dropped my three year old daughter off at my sister’s house and went to the ER. They must have thought he was in pretty bad shape, because when we checked in, we didn’t have to wait at all. They took us right back and gave him a nebulizer treatment. He was still struggling to breathe even after that. It’s all kind of a blur now, but I remember they had to give him chest x rays (which he screamed through– it was awful), tried (and failed) to take blood (which was it’s own mini horror– they had to restrain him to keep him still, and they still were unsuccessful), he was put in an oxygen tent (see EJ editor note below), given more treatments and finally admitted. It was the hardest thing in the world. I felt so helpless and scared. To see your baby struggling to breathe, knowing you can’t help, and seeing the doctors having difficulty helping him, was almost unbearable.

He ended up being admitted, being diagnosed with pneumonia and staying two or three nights in the hospital. I still feel like crying when I think about it. I feel guilty about not recognizing the symptoms earlier in the day and thinking about how much discomfort he was in and I thought he was just cranky.

EJ editor note: Oxygen tents are used to provide oxygen rich environments for patients who have limited oxygen supplies. An oxygen tent is composed of a clear plastic sheet that is suspended over the patient’s bed and tucked under the mattress, with zippers on the sides of the tent to provide access to the patient.


They sent him right in the emergency room
Mason was breathing very fast, and that’s when I started to panic. My brother had asthma bad but I didn’t know really what to do for my son, so I went to my mom’s house so she could look at his breathing. She knew it wasn’t right so we brought him to the hospital. And then once he got into the hospital he started doing that crazy throwing up and panicking and then I knew something was wrong so they sent him right in the emergency room.


We came into the hospital on Sunday morning. Saturday Lucy had a little bit of wheezing in the morning, so we did her Albuterol inhaler and it worked. Then I went out Saturday to a baby shower with my mother, and when I came home, she just looked totally drawn, was wheezing, and she couldn’t catch her breath. We have a nebulizer machine at home, so we did that for her all night, and by the morning when she woke up she just wasn’t getting any air in. So I brought her in myself to the hospital and they immediately admitted her.


It started with coughing
It started with the coughing. We saw at home that Aiden was having a very hard time breathing and that he had shortness of breathing, and we didn’t know what to do. So I decided with my husband to take him to the hospital. It was good that we went because he had an oxygen level of 81 at that time (see EJ editor note below) and we came to the emergency room and in two minutes he was getting great treatment with oral steroids and Albuterol and that made his oxygen level higher. That first time we came to the hospital, we only had to stay one day, for 24 hours, not like now. I was hoping this time we would only have to stay 24 hours but we’re staying longer this time.

EJ editor note: Normal oxygen saturation levels, expressed as percentages, range from 95% to 100% at sea level. For children with asthma, oxygen saturation levels below 95% are usually indicative of respiratory distress; levels of 91% or lower are usually indicative of severe respiratory distress and most likely require supplemental oxygen to be administered to the child as part of a medical intervention.


It was horrible
When I was in the emergency room that I took him to first, they were like, “She needs to go to another hospital; she needs to go to a children’s hospital” I started crying, just because of the way Mya was laying there and the way her neck was breathing and the way her eyes were. She looked all drowsy– it was horrible.


Taking her to the emergency room
Mya was just wheezing real bad at night. I’ve never been exposed to asthma, but just her wheezing and stuff was really serious, and I just brought her in to the hospital because she didn’t sleep at all. They took her stats and she seemed fine to them until they looked at her neck. Usually when you breathe you don’t see the neckline pushing in, but hers was like just pushing in and in and in, so the nurse was concerned about that because the stat readings they were getting was wrong. So they saw her neck and that’s when they got really concerned.


They put Mya on a nebulizer when she came to the hospital. They almost made her stay in the hospital, but they gave her a treatment and then they checked her oxygen level and it was fine so they sent her home. Then so like every four hours I had to put on her the nebulizer at home. In the middle of the night, every four hours I had to wake up – it was like having a baby all over again. I’d wake up and get her “Waahhs.” It was not a good experience.


I’m not in a rush to go home
I think all parents wish for a cure for asthma because it seems like no one, not even the doctors, can find out what’s the problem with asthma. It’s bad if you think about it, because if you don’t make it in time to the hospital or whatever your lungs could shut down on you. The doctor said we could go home today, and I told him that’s fine, but I don’t have this machine right here to tell me how my son’s sleeping at home. So I’d rather stay here in the hospital until I know that Mason is breathing well. I’m not in a rush to go home, and I don’t want to bring him home and then have to rush back here. I just want him to be safe.


Pack a little kit for next time
We’ve been at the hospital for two nights now. I’m really tired because of having to come here unexpectedly. I wish I would have packed for this. I have brought Mya to the emergency room before and they just gave me a prescription and sent her home, so this time I just brought her in and I threw on my nightgown and didn’t think nothing of it, and then we got stuck out here with nothing. Next time I think I would like have a little kit on the side, some extra pants and bathroom stuff even though it’s not serious just to have because you just never know.


The yo-yo syndrome
I never stayed overnight with Bridget in the hospital, unless, of course, she was doing a twenty four hour test– then I always stayed. But I tried to make it a point in the beginning that I wouldn’t stay at night with her, just to establish a pattern so she knew I had to go home and take care of her brother and her sister. I think that some of the nurses and the people and the volunteers who work at the hospital kind of overcompensate and spoil the kids. She had her playtime in the play room, and during Christmas, Santa Claus would walk around and give out presents to the kids, and then people would come and visit her and bring her presents, so it was like Christmas every day while she was at the hospital. So she’d been spoiled, and then we’d bring her home and try to have a certain standard, keep a certain level of discipline, and it was hard for her. And then she’d have to go back to the hospital, and it was like, “Oh, presents again!” and then she comes back home and is back to being disciplined again. I called it the yo yo syndrome.