Last night boo woke up screaming at midnight, which is much earlier than his norm. Usually if he wakes up before about 3:30, Harlan goes in to soothe him to sleep, in the hopes that eventually he’ll realize that there will be no boob before 3:30, so he might as well just keep sleeping. But last night he cried and he cried and he coughed and he cried and daddy just went on snoozing, so mama flew to the rescue.

I picked him up and he was a teary, snotty mess. His persistent cough was deep in his chest.

Back up. Yesterday he had this horrible cough that sounded like a mix between a duck honking and a trucker hocking up loogies, only my angel doesn’t know how to hock up anything so the mucous just stagnates there making him cough harder and harder. I played phone tag with his doctor, torn because the receptionist said I should bring him in since it sounded like he’d gotten a new cold on top of the old one and this new one could be more insidious, but I felt like a wimp bringing him in for a cold. It’s probably just a cold, right, and it will run its course. So, I didn’t bring him in, thought I’d talk to the doctor about possibly bringing him in today if he still sounded bad. But I never actually talked to her, just played phone tag.

Then last night, I put him to bed and the coughing that rang out through the monitor was heartbreaking. It was harder and louder than ever and punctuated by the pathetic, perplexed cries of a baby who doesn’t understand why someone is hammering on his little chest while he’s trying to go to sleep. I felt like a horrible mommy. And on top of it, I’d meant to go to the homeopathic pharmacy yesterday to pick up this cough syrup my friend Gretchen recommended, I went to visit a preschool right around the corner even, but I totally spaced. So here it was 7:00, homeopathic pharmacy closed and my baby sounding like a pneumatic goose.

I called a health food store by my house and learned they didn’t have the product I wanted, so I jumped online, googled baby cough syrup, found an article that recommended certain commercial, over the counter ingredients over other ones, and called Harlan, who was on the way home from work, and asked him to stop by the drugstore to get some. Then I kept reading and found article after article that said no cough syrup for baby, articles about recalls, others about babies dying from the side effects, one family’s tragic tale after another. I called Harlan back to say no cough syrup. He said boo was so miserable the night before, we had to give him something. He said a teaspoon of cough syrup wasn’t gonna hurt him, he’d get it and we’d only use it if he woke in another fit. I conceded reluctantly, then called Leslie, my mom friend who is totally against medication of any kind, knowing she’d tell me not to do it. I got her voicemail.

Then I had a “DUH” moment: Whole Foods! I called our local food paradise and got one of their incredibly conscientious salespeople on the phone who combed her shelves and read from natural healing books and located two cough syrups that would be perfectly safe for boo. One of them was based on honey (I’d read several articles on my search that recommended honey as an alternative to cough syrup) and homeopathic remedies, which appealed to me because Gretchen’s syrup that she swears by is also homeopathic. This was probably very similar. So, the pharmacist said she’d hold it for me and I called Harlan. He didn’t pick up. I called six times. No answer. I texted him: Don’t get cough syrup! Whole Foods has something I feel better about. They’re holding it for us.

Eventually he called me back. He’d been at CVS, where the pharmacist told him she really didn’t recommend cough syrup for babies: it could do more harm than good. Thank the lord there are sane people even at the local drug emporium! I sent him off to Whole Foods.

Cut to midnight. Aidan hysterical and coughing like a goose with a loudspeaker. Flailing wildly in my arms. I pick up the cough syrup, unscrew the top, pour some into a spoon, hold it to his lips. He turns his head away in rejection of this beautiful, all natural medication, and at the same time swings his arm, knocking over the open bottle, spilling HONEY BASED cough syrup all over the top of his dresser. I start squawking, having flashbacks to when boo, two weeks old, in the middle of the night, shot mustard-colored lava-poop out of his darling soft little butt onto the wall.

Harlan wakes up, groggy, what’s wrong? Boo just spilled the cough syrup all over the place! Do you need help? Yes! He comes running, turns on the lights. I put boo in the crib, he starts crying hysterically. Harlan gives him a spoonful of cough syrup, which he loves once he agrees to taste it, because of course it’s honey-based, while I do my best to clean the sticky dresser. He had a couple of spoonfuls and I nursed him back to sleep, then washed the honey off my arm. We didn’t rendez-vous again until 4:00. He didn’t cough again until about 6:30.

Today his nose is runny but he’s barely coughed at all. Don’t think I’ll have to take him in to the doctor’s office after all.

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