Oscar spent his weekend in the hospital.

and i spent much of it feeling like the world’s most horrible mother…because i almost didn’t take him there.

The Boy woke up with a cold early Thursday morning…by Friday evening, it had drooled its way into my system too. we tag-teamed our way through the night, O & i, coughing like smokers. by the time his mid-morning nap rolled around on Saturday, my little bunny was sounding pretty snuffly and breathing hard.

maybe it was the cold meds i was on, but my response to O’s nap-time rasps was NOT to worry about his breathing. oh no. i figured he was stuffed up and overexcited – he tends to get agitated around nap-time and pant a little in protest, even on a healthy day. or so i tell myself. i did worry, though, plenty…i worried about whether he’d actually sleep. i worried that he’d get overtired if he kept fighting the nap with all this panting business. i worried that i might not get half an hour to myself to do the dishes. and i was so busy worrying about these stupid mundanities that it never once crossed my mind that he might actually be in trouble. so i soothed him to sleep, with great perseverance, and did the damn dishes.

and as i was bustling about the house in my cold-drugged fog, i thought “oh, he’s having a great sleep!” oh Pollyanna.

it was when he woke that i started to clue in. his breathing was still quick, and loud…so loud, in fact, that when i left him on Dave’s lap and went into the next room to get his bottle ready, i could hear his rapid-fire wheeze. it occurred to me that maybe i should take him to the hospital, just to be safe…and Dave, who i think was quite alarmed by the noises he was making, readily concurred. but i still felt like we were over-reacting.

i always feel like i’m over-reacting, no matter what brings me to the hospital. i was kind of a hypochondriac as a kid – hospitalization at the age of three for tonsilitis introduced me to popsicles, chocolate milk, and gingerale, so i spent the rest of my childhood hoping wistfully to get back to the paediatric ward. in fact, i spent much of my pre-teen career making up fake illnesses to try to get out of school and back into the hospital. it never worked, and i eventually decided it was embarrassing and gave it up, but it left its mark on me nonetheless. because even two decades after my last attempt to appear the victim of a dread disease, i’m still unable to completely trust my judgement when it comes to sickness. i’m not a very stoic patient, but a damn apologetic one. “who me? oh, it’s probably nothing…just this pesky little amputation, terribly sorry to bother you.”

i do not have the conviction that my judgment is worthy. even when bleeding copiously or coughing up a lung or two, i harbour a secret fear of being exposed as a faker. and my hesitancy, apparently, extends even to my child…i don’t want to be the mother who runs to emergency every time her offspring sneezes. i was scared they’d laugh at me, tell me he had a cold, and send me home.

but i was more scared, luckily, by his little peaked face than i was by the prospect of being suspected a Munchausen’s mom.

turns out he has bronchiolitis again…same as he had in September. turns out his blood oxygen level was down to 92 or 93, and his breaths per minute were up to eighty. turns out this can come on in hours, apparently, even in the absence of any significant fever. and it turns out we got whisked into Paediatric Recussitation within ten minutes of arriving at emergency, and Oscar got hooked up to a bunch of machines and masks that all scared the everlovin’ crap out of me.

he stayed in the hospital one night. he was a little trooper, summoning up smiles for all the strangers poking and prodding at him. i wasn’t nearly so brave, or so cheerful…i was in shock. it took me a couple of hours to come to terms with the fact that there had, in fact, been an emergency. that not only had we been right to take O in, but that i really should have taken him an hour or two before. that had i continued to listen to the voice in my head that belittled my concern and told me i was over-reacting, he might have been seriously harmed by his diminished oxygen levels. he might have stopped breathing altogether.

the responsibility of this parenting thing makes me stagger, every single time i come up close to it.

Oscar is home now, still stuffy but breathing normally. we’re giving him Ventalin masks four times a day. he’s fine, recovering quickly.

me? oh i’m fine…just hemorrhaging guilt, doctor, don’t worry about me. and don’t mind me if we show up again tomorrow…or whenever he sneezes next. :)