Posted by: Hannah | 04/30/2015

confused & breaking the rules

Yesterday was my birthday. It was such a quintessential “mom in her 30s with young kids” experience… because it really wasn’t about me at all.

I managed to get George in to see our doctor at 11:15AM. He was pretty full of beans all morning, so of course I waffled between relief (thank goodness he’s getting better, I was afraid it was pneumonia), baffled exhaustion (you were up all night just like I was, and I feel like I was hit by a truck but you’re singing “Uptown Funk” at top volume & dancing), and resentment (it’s my birthday and I’m going to have a shitty tiring day, how is that fair?) I was in such a stew that I was actually happy Daisy had woken up with what looked like pinkeye because at least it meant I was down the one kid who causes most of the fighting and noise around here. By the time we went to the doctor I was starting to wonder if I was the crazy one, because aside from the persistent cough he seemed much better.

The doctor didn’t agree.

She listened to his lungs for a really long time. She frowned a lot. After a while he got tired of sitting on the edge of the examining table and collapsed against my chest, wrapping his arms around me.

Finally she said that she did hear more crackling and snapping than last week, in both lungs. Her best guess was viral pneumonia, but she ordered chest x-rays to be sure. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. Viral ones can’t, and then she said if things on the x-ray are bad enough, we may need to admit him for 24 hours or so.

I looked over at Charlie and Louis, dragged along to the clinic and doing their best to be helpful and good. I thought about Harry, Ron, and Arthur getting off the bus in a couple of hours and needing an adult to meet them. I thought about lunchtime (already late), naptime (coming up fast), and the usual long wait times at the children’s hospital. Most of all I thought about how I should have closed the dayhome that morning and focused on my own sick child, and how I hadn’t, and I felt like a complete asshole.

I called Michael at work. He had a deadline on a big project, but he figured he could leave early without undue fuss. He pointed out – rightly so – that he’d need to leave work anyway, because someone would need to be home for the older boys even if I closed up midday. He talked me down off the ledge. I packed a little bag for George – books, a little snack, and his puffers. When it was time, he gave me a huge hug and walked out the door holding his dad’s hand, dwarfed by his bookbag but excited to go on an adventure to the hospital.

Then the waiting. It was mercifully brief – things were not busy in radiology and so the whole visit was over in under an hour. Verdict from the hospital: lots of mucous, but no pneumonia.


They came home. George showed me his two stickers and his finger puppet “for being so brave”. He went outside to play with the other kids. I felt so fragile and wrung-out that all I wanted was a nap, but the kids were very keen to take me out for a birthday dinner at our favourite Chinese restaurant, as previously planned. They were even getting dressed in their “fancy shirts” for the event.

In the midst of all that, the phone rang. It was our doctor; she’d been sent the x-ray results. “It’s what I expected,” she said.


What she expected was viral pneumonia. What the hospital said was “no pneumonia”. In my sleep-deprived state, I couldn’t make any sense out of what she was saying, at all. I just felt extremely weary and disappointed that nothing will fix this, save time.

We went to dinner. We ordered the kids a pu-pu platter, prompting George to yell gleefully “I need to go PEE before I have my PU-PU PLATTER!” We went straight from the restaurant to the pharmacy next door, to buy a new humidifier and some cough medicine.

A word on the cough medicine. The pharmacy stocks homeopathic cough remedies for children “aged 0 – 9”. I read the teeny-tiny print with care. The two main active ingredients in most of them are belladonna and honey. I will often give a spoonful of honey to a child with a tickly, annoying cough, but for the bone-deep possibly-pneumonia-or-maybe-not cough George has that’s akin to putting out a house fire by spitting on it. Until a few years ago, you could buy decongestants for children under 6, and then Health Canada put the kibosh on that so now all children’s cough & cold remedies are labelled as “for ages 6 – 12” with one blanket dosing recommendation for that entire age group.

It’s nonsensical. And frankly, I knew that cough syrup would help. Does it cure colds? No, of course not. But it relieves the symptoms enough that the child can sleep. So I avoided the pharmacist’s eye and grabbed some nighttime cough syrup with all sorts of chemicals and no honey or deadly nightshade at all.

We set up the humidifier. Ron, who shares a room with George, was instantly enthralled. “It’s so cool and misty in here! And I love the sound it makes!” We propped George up on pillows, gave him a half-dose of cough syrup, argued with him about his puffers (still on two, and at double doses now, ye gods).

Aside from a bad spell between 11:30 and 1, he slept. All night. He woke up still coughing, but in slightly better spirits. Appetite still crap, and he has these little bursts of energy in between periods of whining and lying down with a blanket, but I think maybe he’s on the mend.



  1. So stuck between UGH and AW for this entire post. It SUCKS that this was your birthday. It’s ADORABLE that G was obscenifying Uptown Funk after a sleepless night and that your boys wanted to take you out for dinner wearing their fancy shirts. Good for you for flouting the stupid rules. And… dammit, if I was more tech savvy I’d paste a gif of Danny Castellano stripping here for you.

  2. Yep. I think that’s up there for “bad birthdays”. *hugs*

  3. Poor Mamma. Poor Baby. 😦

    I am glad he’s feeling better by now…

    What an exhausting ordeal.

    I hope your birthday was happy anyway. 🙂

  4. Awww… 😦 I’m sorry that your birthday wasn’t all sunshine and fuzzy bunnies. But I’m so glad to hear that he’s feeling better.

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