Friday, March 30, 2012

Kids Coughing: What to Do?

Last night Sarah woke coughing...and coughing...and coughing...and coughing.

She likely had the start of a cold brought on by a garden variety bug taking over her little body, making it challenging for her to lay down or get a restful night's sleep.

It broke my heart to hear her body shuddering with each coughing sound she made. At first, I tossed and turned with each of her coughs hoping that she would eventually fall back to sleep from exhaustion, but the coughing continued.

Knowing the sound of her cough I was not worried. And, since we are in the midst of allergy season and this symptom is not out of the ordinary for her I just knew she was uncomfortable. Also, because it was not a loud barking sound I was not concerned either. However, if you are unsure of the type of cough that your child has, especially for a child not fully vaccinated or under the age of one, call your doctor to make sure that it's not pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

Inevitably I got up to see what relief I could provide Sarah. I first checked her forehead and back to feel for a fever. Relieved that she was not hot I then propped her up on more pillows and gave her water to drink so that the post-nasal drip could settle down, if possible.

Let's be honest, sitting up to sleep is not very comfortable and it did not surprise me when Sarah slumped back down onto her bed in the hopes of resuming to her preferred sleeping position. Again, I pulled her up but this time I wedged her with my body to keep her upright as much as possible, and thought we could both fall asleep together.

The coughing continued.

Sarah drank more water. At one point she had a coughing fit that unfortunately led to phlegm getting stuck in her throat, which eventually made its way out and on to the blankets and sheets.

Yep. It was yucky. Let's just say that at that moment I was happy to remember that I put on the waterproof mattress pad, or this would have been an even worse situation.

As the coughing continued further, we made our way through the hallway towards my room where Sarah threw up again. Thankfully, hardwood floors are easy for clean up.

Eventually, we made it into a chair in my room with her on my lap upright resting on me. At that moment, the coughing ceased, at least for a little bit. Through all of this I then had a moment. I began to feel what it was like when Sarah was an infant as she laid on my body for comfort. My baby girl. Oh how much she has changed over time in her four years of life. She's grown up so much. However, needing mommy is still a want for her, and I welcome it.

Desperately wanting another hour of sleep I willed for Sarah to go back to sleep, but it did not happen. So, when at 6:00am she asked if she could color, I let her go willingly. I was still wiped out not ready to get up so I let her proceed to her room to get crafty, and she did. And, the coughing subsided.

You may be asking, why didn't I give Sarah cough medicine when the coughing fits began. The reason is that young children under the age of four are discouraged to be given cough suppressants. Because of that, all I could do was ride it out until either her symptoms alleviated, escalated or we got confirmation from the doctor to take action.

Sarah stayed home from school today and went to the doctor. As we suspected, she has a cold and all we can do is let it run its course. The doctor agreed that giving her a cough medicine was not recommended and to continue doing what we were doing. In fact, the doctor said that she urges that children under the age of 6 not be given cough suppressants. However, if Sarah's cough continues to keep her awake at night we could give her children's Benedryl.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Each year, thousands of children under age 12 go to emergency rooms after taking over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. [Further], in response to safety concerns, the leading manufacturers of children's cough and cold medicines are changing the labels on these products to state that thy should not be used in children younger than 4 years of age."

While Sarah is just over the age of four, I was skeptical about giving her a cough suppressant unless otherwise directed by her pediatrician.

Thankfully Sarah has no fever and later bounced off the walls at home being the happiest little sick kid you will ever find. The doctor confirmed that what Sarah needed was fluids, not cough medicine, and rest if she was willing. Otherwise, we were told to just let her be active if she was to it and that in a week's time she would be better soon.

As adults we often are quick to want to take something to alleviate our symptoms. We cannot do the same with children. They are not little adults. Therefore, with cough medicines there is no iron clad solution currently on how much a child should get of this liquid especially because of weight fluctuations in these age categories.

Thus, it's imperative that as parents we not play the role of doctor and decide what over- the-counter (OTC) remedies to give our kids to help alleviate their symptoms. While it is a pain to have to take our kids to the doctor on a work day it's best to know whether an OTC treatment is the safest approach.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

This week on Friday, the day before Saint Patrick's Day, at Sarah's school, she had a "green" party. Our job was to bring in green juice for the feast. With a few drops of green food coloring in the apple juice container we successfully had a bright shade of green liquid concoction. Sarah was so excited to bring in this special treat and be part of the festivities, even though she did not fully understand what it was really meant for, patron saint Patrick.

During school drop off it was a sea of green inside. Teachers and kids were all dressed up in varying shades of this earthly color. While we do not celebrate this holiday, being Jewish, I didn't necessarily dress Sarah up in all green. However, she did wear a green headband and clothes with rainbow colors including green. Nonetheless, I walked into Sarah's school and a smile came to my face. It was cute seeing the kids connecting on something they may not have understood fully yet comparing their clothes to each other excited to be part of a celebration.

Nonetheless, as soon as I saw Sarah at the end of the day the first thing I asked her was how was "green" day, and the feast. It was cute conversation and one that reinforces the importance of exposing children at young ages to multiple cultures because it is fun and educational, even if they don't commemorate as a family, and so that they are not thinking that their one religion is the only important one. Education is key to the growth of our children's minds and teaching them about history and the life around them will help to round out their thinking and understanding of the world, as we all different in many ways.

For all of you who celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, here are some Haiku to commemorate today's holiday on the seventeen day of March, the Festival of Patrick.

A cultural day
And religious holiday
Patron Saint Patrick

This St. Patrick's Day
The Irish commemorate
Feast, drink, celebrate

Drink, eat, celebrate
Recognize patron Patrick
And shamrock symbol

Green ribbons, shamrocks
Likely to be worn today
To commemorate

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kids Are Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

When it came time to pick Sarah up from school today I was in desperate need of her presence, including her giggles, hugs, kisses, and fun way of saying and doing things.

For me, Sarah is sunshine. There are days I need more of her rays of love, hope, and happiness, and she knows how to give it unconditionally. Today, it just so happened to come in handy.

My afternoon ended on somewhat of a sour note today and what I needed most, at least so I thought to help distract me from my funk, was to see Sarah, clear my mind, and be captivated by her giggles, conversation and innocence.

And, it was exactly the recipe for success that I needed.

As soon as I arrived at school to pick Sarah up I started to feel better. I decided to watch her while she was sitting so patiently reading a book with her teacher. A smile instantly grew on my face. Already I was feeling a little bit better.

Once Sarah realized I was sitting there watching she leaped up from the floor, ran over to me, and jumped on me with a hug and a kiss.

What's not to love? So what I needed. My smile grew even bigger.

While my troubles were still looming in my head, I did my best to push them aside to focus on my time with Sarah. We decided a trip to the library would be a good distraction and fun activity, something that we could both enjoy.

While this special time with Sarah did not fully rid my mind of what was on it, it did enable me to get distracted even for a little while to gain some clarity from the day's events and actions and clear my head from the clutter.

While we can't shut off the world, as much as we would like to do sometimes, the smiles and joy from kids can really help to distract, in a good way, from the stresses in life that cloud our minds, and can make it hard to feel release.

I thank my little spunky, feisty, sweet, and highly-energized monkey of a child for giving me the chance to stop when I needed to, watch and engage, listen, play, and inevitably clear my head and gain clarity.

I think for me why Sarah was the medicine I needed today to help me was that her pure unadulterated approach to life, with many times reckless abandon, was exactly what the doctor ordered as there was no agenda. It was a natural, seamless process where a need was met simply.

Do you have moments like this where what you need most is a hug from a child, a giggle to shift your focus, or an innocent distraction like a play ground jaunt, to get you back to center?

Halloween Candy for the Troops

While we all recover from over indulging in too much candy during Halloween, still the candy is in our homes staring at us willing us to...