When you and your partner daydream about your future child, you think a lot about which of your characteristics he or she will inherit. Back when Luella was just “Pickle” I hoped she’d get Jim’s red curls, my creativity, Jim’s math skills, my green eyes. Things we suspected she’d get from both of us were a goofy sense of humour, general nerdiness, and rough childhood asthma.
Time has yet to tell on many of those attributes, but unfortunately it’s looking like we can confirm the asthma. After a whole lot of GP visits, antibiotics, and late night coughing fits we finally got Lu in to see a specialist. More specifically, Jim’s childhood doctor who is an expert on childhood asthma.
Both he and I had it quite bad as kids, both having multiple hospital visits. I still attribute a lot of my current anxiety with hospitals to this.
So anyway, for the first time we had a doctor listen to Luella’s health history and take our concerns seriously instead of just having a quick listen to her chest and saying she sounds fine. (No shit, she sounds fine at 11am. Try coming by at midnight when she’s already woken up 4 times in a coughing fit.)
Basically he said it’s likely she’s got underlying asthma but they tend not to diagnose it in babies under 2. There have been a lot of nasty bugs going around this winter, despite how mild it’s been. It’s possible she’s simply gotten a few colds in a row that are taking a while to clear. Babies are not very good at clearing their chests. So come next winter, if she gets hit hard with congestion again, he’ll re-assess and treat her more aggressively.
He said some kids, like her, are just “happy wheezers” who just have a constant cough and wheeze going, but it doesn’t bother them overall. Sometimes it seems like it bothers Lu, but it’s hard to tell if it’s the wheeze, or teething, or general toddler crankiness.
I knew this was a pretty likely outcome for Luella. Even without our history, 1 in 4 kids in NSW has asthma because our air quality is so bad. It’s generally easily managed and there are lots of resources. In fact, this week is actually National Asthma Week.
Things could be a whole lot worse. And yet, I can’t help but feel really sad.
My perfect little baby. She was born so healthy, without so much as a sniffle in her first 6 months. Now I can’t remember the last time she didn’t wake up with a runny nose and phlegm in her chest.
We tried our best to protect her. We’ve shielded her from smokers, avoided Aspirin, I’ve been breastfeeding exclusively, we spent over $200 on what was supposed to be the most asthma-friendly cot mattress for fuck’s sake. (Turns out a bed filled with tea leaves is about as crunchy and comfortable as it sounds. Worst baby purchase ever!)
But we couldn’t protect her from this. That’s really the first time that’s happened to us as parents and it certainly won’t be the last. Jim and I may very well find ourselves in the same position as our own parents, making late night ER trips, running a hot shower to help the Ventolin get into those little lungs. I’ve already cried during her first Nebulizer treatment. (It didn’t help that the nurse literally said to me “I hope you didn’t scar her for life.” Who says that???)
It’s hard knowing those things that may be in store. Let’s just hope our little wheezer stays a happy one!