One of the scariest phrases for a mom to hear is ‘your child has whooping cough’. We are trained to hear the phrase whooping cough (Pertussis) and think of a life threatening infection for babies. At least for me, whooping cough is something I never wanted to hear while Michael was less than a year old. I made sure he was on schedule with his DTaP vaccinations and was thankful he was a pretty healthy kid.

And then this happened…

Now, I’m not a paranoid mom, grandma and daddy Michael do enough worrying as it is, so I don’t take Michael into the doctor when he has a cough. All they are going to do is make me pay $30 to find out he has a cold and there isn’t anything they can do about it. No thank you. I thought for SURE his cough and lack of appetite was due to him having a cold. ‘Tis the season, right? WRONG!

Michael is 18 months old so I chalked up his behavioral changes to him learning new emotions. (I have an ass backwards way of justifying everything.) That is, until they got worse. He is usually a slap happy, ticklish fool at bedtime! He is so precious at bedtime, no matter how frustrated he makes me during the day… just precious. When we laid him down for bed on day 1 his face scrunched into a whimper and quiet tears started rolling down his face. It was the ultimate heartbreaking moment.


I listened to him cough all night long and I begged the Twitter Gods to let my baby wake up healthy. PLEASE wake up healthy! His cough got worse throughout the night until he woke up and scared away his aunt and 2 month old cousin. (Thank goodness they went away! It pains me to know she was over here during stage 1 of his whooping cough.)


I couldn’t believe my eyes when my 34 pound child refused to eat or drink! I tried all of his favorites: fruit pouches, bananas, clementines, etc. The only noteworthy food he consumed all day was a can of fruit cocktail. (For goodness sake, tell me what is wrong!)

Michael had recently started coming up to me and laying his head in my lap so I could rub his back and/or stroke his head. OK? It blew my mind a little bit because it was a sad visit and he was seeking comfort from me. Interesting… it turns out his sad puppy visits coincided with him being in stage 1 of Pertussis. (I sure suck at this whole reading my child thing.)

I put him down for his nap today, day 2 of the BAD cough, as he quietly whimpered and looked up at me with his sad eyes. All I could do was rub his cheek and tell him it was going to be OK. What else is a mom supposed to do? His eyes were pleading with me to make him feel better and I could feel him asking me if I got that mom superhero power. ?

Sad toddler with whooping cough

Cellphone + no lights = bad picture

He coughed his whole nap and woke up with a vengeance! He was screaming, crying, and coughing all at the same time. It was awful! He kept gasping for air as the snot poured out of his nose and rolled down his face. The Boogie Wipes weren’t able to keep up with his fountain of a nose. Then he started rolling around on the floor coughing and at that moment I felt totally helpless. I had NEVER seen him like this! One of my girlfriends told me to give him a bath so I grabbed the finger paint and to the tub we went!

Playing with finger paints in the bathtub while trying to help his whooping cough

The tub helped decrease the intensity of the cough, however, this was the point where I realized it couldn’t be a cold. Off to the doctor we went! The fact that I am a blogging mom and I took a video of his coughing helped tremendously because he wasn’t coughing bad for the doctor. I showed her the video and she mentioned the possibility of croup or whooping cough. (OK, there isn’t much you can do for croup, and whooping cough is scary. Let’s just go with croup. Croup sounds good to me.) As she hands me the Zithromax script, she mentions it won’t be life threatening because he has had his DTaP shots. (Umm… what did you just say to me???)  

I realized taking him to the doctor was the right decision when he whimpered with his sad puppy eyes at bedtime tonight. My advice, whatever it is worth to you guys, is to watch for behavioral changes along side any cold symptoms. The perk to being a WAHM is knowing my child’s personality, even if I suck at it, better than anyone else. It might take me a moment to open up my eyes and realize the connection, but I eventually figure things out.


According to the CDC– Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breathes which result in a “whooping” sound. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age.


Here is a link to an audio snippet of someone with whooping cough.


According to WebMD– Croup is a common respiratory  problem in young children. It tends to occur in the fall and winter. Its main symptom is a harsh, barking cough. Croup causes swelling and narrowing in the voice box, windpipe, and breathing tubes that lead to the lungs. This can make it hard for your child to breathe.


According to Croup-Cough– Whooping is characterized by continuous coughing till the lungs are emptied and then inhalation with a ‘whoop’ sound or gasp. This is where the primary difference can be noticed between the two: the sound. Croup is hoarse seal-like bark whereas whooping cough has a high pitched gasping sound.

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