The coughing startles me, sharp staccato burst after sharp staccato burst. I listen to see what kind of cough it is.
Pure asthma? Post nasal drip induced? Simple cold cough?
After five years of nursing two children through asthma exacerbated colds I can distinguish coughs so well that even at work I can tell when my coworker needs her inhaler even before she’s noticed.
Tonight Little L’s cough isn’t wheezy or scary. She’s reacting to a stuffy nose and some serious post-nasal drip.I try to let it go, but the bursts increase in frequency and keep me from falling back asleep.
I have a last ditch remedy, one that really shouldn’t work, but for some reason does, when nothing does the trick. Vicks VapoRub… on the soles of the feet.
It’s crazy. I know. But even snopes.com can’t completely debunk the myth. Fact is, it works. Despite having no scientific reason behind it. And who am I to turn down a solution that allows me to get some sleep?
I tiptoe into her room and find the little jar of salve. She’s curled into a tight ball, sweaty and hot to the touch.I untangle her from her blanket and loveys and smooth the hair out of her face. Then I gently ease my hand up her shirt to smooth some vaporub onto her chest. Hopefully breathing in the menthol will clear her nose a bit.
Then I turn my attention to her feet. I rub first one sole and then the next with the stuff, remembering how I used to do this when she was a baby, coughing late at night. In comparison these feet are huge in my hand. Still soft and sweet, but huge.
I ease her socks over her now sticky feet and tuck her back under her covers. In my minds eye I see her, small, feverish and sick, in her crib in our room. She was so small and vulnerable. This little girl though, in her big girl bed, with her pillow and comforter is no baby. She laughs, reasons, makes jokes, tells tales. She skips and hops, she can reach the light switch and even the sink.
Somehow, overnight, my baby stopped being a baby. And in just a few months she’ll be four. A four year old desperate to read like her sister. And even as my heart bursts with pride at seeing her become her own person in vibrant technicolor… my heart also clenches.
She’s my baby. My little one. It’s painful to see her outgrow her babyhood.