Holiday from hell ~ Week 3/4 Whooping-Cough

Week 3 was quite nice. We actually had a chance to do some of the things we wanted to do while on holidays. We took the girls to the new big park in town, it was so cool. We did some shopping, visited family and went to the pet porpoise pool.

We all had fun despite our ‘flu’ the girls were all snotty and rugged up but they didn’t care. Mid week Buddy finally started to get a runny nose. I knew it would happen. We have a big family, the moment someone has something, it doesn’t leave until we’ve all had it. My poor baby .I didn’t worry too much. I’d already taken my girls to the doctor before Buddy was born, I was paranoid about whooping-cough as it was apparently ‘going around’ at the time and I knew it can be very dangerous to newborns, even deadly. But the doctor said not to worry, all my girls were immunised so it wouldn’t be whooping-cough, he prescribed antibiotics. Glen went back the next day to get the free booster as it was recommended, and I got the shot the day after Buddy was born.

I kept his fluids up making sure he fed regularly. Finally one night he had a little cough. Glen and I looked at each other and thought poor kid. Not even two weeks old and sick. He began sleeping longer and longer and I had to try to wake him for a feed. Then Friday night he had a good big feed and I thought finally he’s getting a little better. Only he threw it all back up. 3am I woke him for a feed, he wasn’t very enthusiastic about it so I let him go back to sleep.

7am Saturday morning I got him to have another good feed. He threw it all up too. I’d had enough. I told Glen I was taking him to the hospital to get checked out. We were meant to be heading out to Bellingen for lunch as it was my new Father-in-laws birthday so I left early thinking I’d be back in time for us to head off.

Only when I got there, Buddy and I all of a sudden got caught up in a whirlwind.


*The following is bits and pieces I wrote while in hospital with Buddy, I began a diary on the 7th, 5 days after he was admitted, as I needed an outlet. I had no idea when it would end, if ever.*

This is difficult for me to write as I am so drained, exhausted, confused and simply lost. I have so many mixed emotions right now its hard to think straight.

I want to write about Buddy’s condition and how it got to this point, how I feel and what I think about it all.

So Buddy has whooping-cough. How did he get it? presumably from his sisters. Bella developed a cough a few weeks before we were due to leave Blackwater. I assumed it was her asthma which plays up around this time of year so we began to give her a puff of her preventative puffer morning and night when it didn’t help we checked it out and realised it was out of date. Only the week before we were due to leave Violet and Molly had temperatures and were snotty. Molly began to cough. I thought perhaps it was a cold. The weekend we arrived in Coffs Harbour, Violet began coughing.

I was well aware of whooping-cough being around, I’d been told by the nurses who immunised Molly in QLD. I also knew it was big in NSW as I’d seen al the signs and information flyers in the hospital when I arrived for ante-natal appointments. So I booked us all in to see the doctor.

I specifically asked the doctor about whooping-cough. I told him I was worried about it as I was only a week and a half away from having Buddy. He told me that because all my girls were fully immunised that they would ‘protect our household’ and stop it from affecting us. He the prescribed Bella a new preventive puffer and antibiotics for all the girls besides Sophie. Molly actually had a coughing fit in his office. So when we left the doctor I was left feeling confident that it was not whooping-cough and I was just paranoid.

He’d seen it for himself.

After making Glen an appointment to come back the following day to get the free vaccine we went directly to the chemist. $100 later we were all stocked up with our antibiotics, Bella’s puffer and some kids cough soothers.

Now I am not one for unnecessary medication. Bella is the only one of my kids who’s had antibiotics before and she was 2 and it was for an inner ear infection, but I felt for the safety of my newborn that we were going to make sure we did what ever was possible to get better soon so as not to put Buddy at risk.

As the week progressed and their medicine bottles grew emptier and emptier and they were not improving one bit I began to worry again. Glen and I watched kids on YouTube having coughing fits like our girls did.

That was it, I was going back to the doctor.

The next morning my sister arrived and said that her doctor had told her it was a virus and that’s why the antibiotics weren’t working. Made sense to me. Plus the doctor did after all witness one of Molly’s cough. I was annoyed that my girls had taken unneeded antibiotics though.

So my baby didn’t want to wait and came a little early.

I was such a proud and happy mum.

Full of love and joy, finally my boy was here in my arms and I was finally married to my best friend. I got my whooping-cough shot the day after Buddy was born.

All was good for the first week, he was such a happy, hungry little guy, he practically fed non stop and my milk took a little longer to come in but I knew when it did it would be dramatic. Finally it came and I was happy to have him feeding so regularly to ease the pressure, but finally one night he had a little cough. Poor kid. It was bound to happen. His whole family was unwell, so were most of our visitors as ‘something’ was going around.

His cough worried me most at night. A couple of times he’d cough and then take a moment or two before he drew his next breath. It was scary watching my tiny baby struggle to breathe. I spent nights awake with him just to make sure he kept sucking in air. One night I was so tired I was afraid I’d fall asleep and miss him stop breathing so I got up at 1.30am took him downstairs and propped him in his rocker so I could keep and eye on him. I made a coffee and began to clean and mop the floor so I wouldn’t fall asleep.

Finally when he wouldn’t keep down his feeds I decided to go to hospital. This was not an ordinary cold.

I was stressed, exhausted, worried and no longer knew what to do for my precious baby.

We got in almost immediately as the pregnant lady behind the desk said a hospital emergency room was no place for a 13 day old baby and I totally agreed. She weighed him, 3.7kgs. This is where I began to worry, he was roughly 4kgs at birth, its normal to lose a little, but not that much and he should have gained the amount he’d lost back by now.

Finally a male nurse came over to see us. As I explained his laziness, his cough and his lack of feeding, tears finally spilled. ‘I’m just so worried about him.’ He told me Buddy looked relaxed and peaceful in my arms and if he thought something was wrong he’d be rushing around. Finally he got some equipment together to measure Buddy’s oxygen saturation. It was sitting around 80. He was struggling with it due to Buddy being so small he thought he wasn’t getting a proper reading. Shift change over another male nurse came to check him out. He put an oxygen mask over his tiny face and immediately his numbers jumped up into the high 90’s and finally 100.

At this point I was thinking ‘Oxygen masks? Is it really that bad?’

I was just too afraid to ask, I don’t think I really wanted to know. The nurse did mention that because he reacted to the oxygen then it wasn’t his heart.

Well thank god.

At this stage he had a probe strapped to his foot to measure oxygen saturation and I was holding the mask over his little face. I cried as they finally decided to attach tubes to his perfect face with little prongs up his nose so he could have a constant supply of oxygen. (7 days later and I still later and I still have not seen his adorable face without them)

I cried again as he screamed while they forced tubes into his nostrils to suction out the mucus. (I’m used to it now and cannot count how many times I’ve watched my baby scream over it.)

I was on the verge of hysterics as they held down his tiny little body and inserted an inch long needle into his half-inch hand so he could be hooked up to an iv drip. He screamed so horribly, my heart was breaking. I’d never heard him like that before. He was so peaceful even before he got sick. I wanted to push them all away from my son and tear off all the cords and tubes  and needles and take him home. I seriously began wishing I’d never come, even if it was what was best. I brought him here to be helped not tortured. I was given the option of staying or leaving. I wanted to leave, I didn’t want him looking at me as I allowed them to hurt him. but I didn’t want to leave him on his own with these people either.

So I stood there facing the wall, sobbing and crying my heart out.

What have I done to my baby?

I had no clue what was going on, or why he needed any of these things done to him.

As soon as they gave him to me I had no intentions of letting him go again. He was admitted to hospital and placed in the nursery in the children’s ward. I just held him, mindful of the cords and tubes, I was scared as we sat cuddled together in the dark quiet nursery. I had no idea what was happening. I thought I’d be in hospital for a couple of hours with Buddy but now he was admitted and it was past four, I had only sent Glen a quick message and he had no clue what was going on either.

When Buddy was sleeping happily I asked one of the nurses to watch him so I could go to the toilet and call Glen.

I bawled my eyes out on the phone to Glen. I don’t know what he thought. I’m not a crier, I am far from strong and brave but I sure can act it in the hardest of situations, but this was devastating.

I couldn’t hold it together.

Later that afternoon the nurses pulled out the sofa bed for me as they could see how emotional and physically drained I was and tried to get me to sleep. I couldn’t. I lay there listening to them chatter. Finally at one point I heard Buddy’s name mentioned. And the fact that he was RSV positive.

What the heck is that?

I wondered when they would come tell me, when no one came I googled it on my mobile phone.

Basically the common cold.

Can be more dangerous to newborns and elderly which most things usually are.

Sunday night his breathing became a big concern, doctors came and went fussing over him. They did a chest x-ray or two, they wanted to take an artery blood sample which took 3 painful attempts. Not only did Buddy scream like never before, I had the most gut wrenching pain too. I was letting them do this to him. Deep down I knew it was required to help him in the long-term, but that’s my baby. And I let them do it to him. His cries were becoming weaker and weaker from exhaustion, I was so lost. I had a million questions but no way of wording them. It was 1 am when they decided that they had done all they could and that they’d need to send him else where to receive further help.

I called Glen in desperate tears explaining his deterioration and that he needed to be flown to Sydney. Not long afterwards the doctors then informed me that there were no planes available to fly Buddy.

Now what?

They said he needed more, they were doing all they could do and now they couldn’t even fly him out to get further treatment.

What does that mean for my boy?

All they could do was monitor his stats.

This night was really emotional for me, earlier in the night I’d been dozing with Buddy laying in my arms. I’d been talking to him and stroking his little forehead. For a moment we had both calmed down and felt a little soothed. Shift change over. The new nurse came in, took my baby from my arms, he began crying right away which anyone with half a brain would have realised that crying increases his heart rate and therefore affects his breathing.

She put him in the cot and said minimal holding as it stirs him, she also told me I couldn’t feed him, that the iv drip was enough.

I can’t hold or feed my baby?

He was right there. But it felt like we were worlds a part.

He was distressed laying there screaming, I was heartbroken and panicky and just wanted my baby back. Was I going to lose my milk? When can I hold him again? This is when his condition started getting worse up to the point of needing to fly him out. I blame that nurse for bringing it on.

I cried as I told the two doctors that he was calmer with me, that he is better when he is against my body. I told them to just let me hold him, that I could settle him and soothe him. I told them so many times almost pleading to just give him to me. For ‘medical reasons’ I was denied.

Eventually I was ‘allowed’ to hold Buddy. It was around 4am, and I felt calm come over me as soon as he was in my arms, I think he must have felt the same because he was quiet and began to breathe easier immediately.

I was so afraid for my baby but I did not fully comprehend the situation. I guess my mind just didnt want to go there.

Monday we were told he had whooping cough. Up until this point we were told he was fighting off RSV and bronculitus, he also had a collapsed lung due to fluid. I was so confussed. I didn’t even know when they’d taken the sample to test for pertusiss! Turns out, the mucus they took back on Saturday morning was used and now the results were back.

Whooping cough.

AND he was fighting off the RSV and had to get his lung up and working.

The reality hit me really hard when I read an article from ‘Thats life’ magazine while in the hospital. It was a story of a young mum who’s baby had whooping-cough. I cried and cried for this mum. Her story was identical to mine, everything she detailed in the days leading up to hospitalisation, and everything that went on in hospital.

The only difference was that her newborn son Kristian had died. When her son got to the point of needing further treatment, like Buddy did, they flew him to Melbourne. She said ‘I love you’ before he was taken away. By the time she reached Melbourne herself. Kristian had passed away.

That could have been my story.

My heart goes out to Kristian’s family.

Was Sunday night our worst night? I am hoping so and he got through it. He wanted his mum and I wanted him. They should have let us be.

There have been so many ups and downs, not only in hospital with Buddy but at home with my girls who don’t understand why I am gone and why their new baby brother isn’t home. Glen’s been doing it all on his own and I know how tough it is to look after those 4 girls full-time. Glen and I have been trading over so I can spend a couple of hours at home with the girls, prepare meals for the nights I’ll be away and tidy a little. It gives me a breath of fresh air rather than that sterile air con air. All the girls are tired and emotional, they can’t sleep properly. They just want me to come home and I can’t keep saying ‘tomorrow or the next day’ forever. But I really don’t know when I’ll be home to read their stories and tuck them in.

Sophie at one point burst into tears saying ‘I’m so sorry I made Buddy sick.’ Bella’s been acting out more than normal, and its harder for me to be patient as I haven’t slept for days and being away from Buddy puts me on edge, wondering if he’s screaming or needs a feed or just needs me. I also worry about what the nurses or doctors are doing while I’m not there to supervise. I’m snappy and tense and feel like a totally incompetent parent.

I’ve over compensated by buying the girls new toys and crafts and movies to try to distract them and make me feel a little better.

After a while all the information started to sink in and I began getting mad. I had millions of questions. Where did he get the whooping-cough? His sisters? Is that what they had after all? I wasn’t ‘just’ paranoid? Why didn’t the doctor test us, to be sure? What do we do? How do we fix this?

We were placed in isolation the moment they knew what it was. I now know what jail feels like. No-one can come in without a mask. Gloves and protective outfit if they are to touch Buddy. So really everyone just avoids us. Except for a couple of exceptional beautiful nurses. Glen and I must wear masks if we leave the room and are in hospital grounds.

I’m annoyed with the staff, each one individually is a nice person but each one has their own way of doing things and it often conflicts with the staff who was on the previous shift.

One minute he’s taken off oxygen which I take as an improvement and I get all happy and the next thing I know someone walks in turns it back on and walks out, leaving me in tears thinking he’s getting bad again. At one point he was hooked up to a double dose of oxygen until another nurse noticed on shift change over. Another time he was almost drowned when a build up of moisture in his little nose tubes was poured into them. He was coughing and spluttering.

One night when I arrived back at the hospital after spending time with the girls Glen came out of the hospital to meet me at the car. He was just about in tears, saying that Buddy must hate him, he just stared at him screaming and screaming and Glen couldn’t settle him. As I walked back into the room, two nurses were huddled over him, they were about to remove his canular. It was horribly swollen and the poor little guy was in agony. I later messaged Glen to let him know it wasn’t him, and he’d done nothing wrong. I just wonder if the nurses would have told me the whole story if I hadn’t seen it for myself.

So canular out, I was glad he didn’t need the ‘extra support’ only when I arrived back the next day he had a nasal gastric tube up his little nose and down into his stomach!!!

The little electrodes are now attached to his chest again too.

 Personally I see many improvements, he’s awake for such long periods looking around when he sets off the beeping on one of the machines he’s hooked up to. When he feeds he’s really energetic about it.

Everyone does say he is getting better and despite fighting two bugs at such a young age is doing really well.

I just want to know when I can take him home. I want to be able to snuggle with him in OUR bed, I want to dress him in his cute clothes, I want to bath, feed, cuddle and talk to him whenever I want to.

I can’t hold him the way I want, or lay with him or snuggle with him, too many cords and leads and tubes. I just want to be a good mum to my little boy.

I can’t see my girls when I want, I can’t say goodnight to them or make their breakfast. I feel like such a terrible mother.

I miss Glen so much too. I see him for the 5 minutes it takes to give each other an update on where we’re up to either with Buddy’s progress or what needs to be done at home. A quick peck and we’re off again.

 At lest we’re married now, we have a lifetime to let it sink in.

Our main priority was Buddy.

And my main thought was ‘this should never have happened’

The doctor who missed our case wore a fat gold wedding band and he had told us he had two little girls, and he was nice to us. A nice happily married family man. These are the things I try to think of when I feel ‘blame’ settling in. I then think of Buddy and the pain and distress he has been dealt in his first 2 weeks of life and I think of how distraught and exhausted I and Glen are. And how lost my girls are without their mum. I think about the fact that our entire lives have been turned upside down all because this happily married family man didn’t listen to me.  What if we’d lost Buddy that Sunday night? I wonder what I’d be thinking then. I wonder what he would do if it were one of his daughters who’s life had been played with?

We always want to blame someone. I ultimately blame myself. I should have demanded testing. I should have seen another doctor. I don’t want to lay blame souly on that doctor but he should have taken me seriously. As a mother. He should have listened to my concerns and he should have actively done something to ease them. ie do the simple whooping-cough test.

Buddy is my one and only son. If I lose him, I’ll lose a part of myself and I know that I will never be able to forgive that man who didn’t listen to me.


Sunday 10th July.

So Sunday last week I was lost, my world torn apart. Buddy was getting all the treatment they could give. All we could do was watch and wait. I could have lost my baby that night. If I had I would have wanted to go too. I would have been alive but never again would I have been able to live.

But guess what?!?! This morning doctors are amazed by his improvement over the week and were tempted to send him home but in the end chose to keep him just one more night. So if nothing changes, tomorrow night I’ll be home with ALL my babies!

He has all his ‘equipment’ removed so let’s hope he stays stable.

So needless to say I am over the moon yet a little anxious. This will be the longest 24 hours of my life!!


Well we came home! And Buddy is doing really well now, still has a cough, the antibiotics given kill the bug but the cough carries on, so I still get worried and I am overly paranoid about his health.

I watch him like a hawk.

I am so much closer to my little Buddy because of our week of isolation together, and to be honest I clung to him a little extra from day one.

He is after all my first son.

The first night home was tiring and a relief. The girls were so happy they practically climbed all over me. I wasn’t very energetic about it but I was happy to be home with my family together again. Bella organised a welcome home party for Buddy and I, with Gwenda’s help (she flew to Coffs to help us out, I can never thank her enough for all her help with the girls and the cleaning and just for being there for us!) we had a beautiful lamb roast dinner that Glen cooked, they used balloons and left over decorations from the reception I never got to go to, such a lovely thing to do.

Thank goodness we were home.

Thank goodness we were together again.

2 thoughts on “Holiday from hell ~ Week 3/4 Whooping-Cough

  1. Hi Christie

    My heart aches for what you have all been through – all I can say is thank god that you went with your instincts and that everything turned out alright! That’s why every day is precious – you just don’t know what’s around the corner! I’m just a bit sorry that I didn’t come up a bit earlier. I can’t wait to get back up there to see you all again! Take care and enjoy each other! Love Gwenda

    1. It really was quite surreal, now that it’s over it is really hard to imagine that it really happened. Buddy is so precious. Well they all are, but you just don’t understand how fragile they can be when they are so tiny. I just wish that no one ever has to feel the way we all did when he wasn’t well.
      xox Can’t wait to see you again!!

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