My son’s first breath was delayed. I held my own breath as they drew him from my freshly sliced abdomen, waiting for the sharp peal that signified our separation. I think every mother waits when their child is born to hear that one special sound – the first cry. The first cry is significant–it means that mother and child are now separate beings and the child has taken his or her first step (of many) towards becoming a completely independent being.
A huddle of attendants rushed my son to the other side of the room. As we’d been breathing together up to that point, my own breath was held in my chest. Minutes passed. Finally, he let go a throaty cry. The crowd around him dispersed and he was brought to me.
That was the first time I held my breath for my son–but it would not be the last. He was a poorly child–and seemed to constantly have a chest cold. I spent many a night trying to get him to sleep while his chest seemed to fight to keep him awake. Puck never had the luxury of a “light” cough. It always went straight to his chest and settled in. He always sounded much less like the toddler he was, and more like a chain smoker.
Puck also had ear infections constantly, and although the doctors continued to assure me that they were not communicable after he got ear tubes no one else in the house got an ear infection again. Between the colds and the ear infections though I lost many a night of sleep, and I despaired that he would never be “well”.
After a couple of hospitalizations, the doctors told me that they couldn’t “officially” diagnose because my son was too young to do the test, but unofficially, he had the early signs of asthma. We were given a medication regime, an annual appointment with an asthma specialist, and special instructions to keep his environment “healthy”.
Unlike some asthmatics who are triggered by exercise or allergies, my son is generally triggered by a chest cold. When he was younger, he had a cold from September through April. Once we got him onto medications, the colds came less and less often, and his breathing eased. As soon as he has any symptom of a cold, we up his medication to reduce the longer term symptoms and to keep it out of his lungs. He has developed some minor environmental allergies but like the asthma, they’re manageable with medications and some changes in our home.
When we moved houses, we got rid of the wall-to-wall carpets in favor of wooden floors. This has cut down immensely on not only the frequency my son’s attacks, but also the amount of work required to keep the floors clean. He has dust covers on his bed and pillows. We still have the dog, (thankfully, he doesn’t have an allergy to her) but we keep her out of my son’s room. I still think I vacuum and wash the floors much more often than most moms–but it’s much less than it once was.
Puck has medications at school just in case, but I can happily report this is the first year he hasn’t used them at all. I’m thankful that he finally seems to have gotten to the point where his lungs are mature enough that he’s breathing easily.
In fact, we’re both breathing a lot easier these days–Puck because his lungs are finally mature and clear–and me for pretty much the same reason. As he’s able to breathe, Puck has been able to become more independent–and I’m able to worry about him much less.
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