The Night Monkey Couldn’t Breathe..

Last night was terrifying.

Monkey and Daddy have had colds all week, though Daddy has had it the worst. Monkey has been a bit snotty, the occasional cough but mainly alright. He had calpol at bedtime Wednesday and Thursday but Friday he had seemed fine so he didn’t have any. At one point in the evening I heard him cough, and I thought it sounded a bit funny, and the thought ‘croup’ did cross my mind… but he only coughed once, had a brief whimper then went back to sleep.

Daddy and I went to bed not long after 10, had a bit of a read then lay down to sleep. Within minutes of turning our lights off we heard some odd noises from Monkey’s room. A sort of cough but we could tell he was distressed. Monkey is usually great at self soothing after a few minutes unless he is really poorly, but last night, there was something different about the noises he was making. We headed in but still didn’t think too much of it at first, Daddy gave him a cuddle while I started to get some calpol ready for when he had calmed down.

It was at this point we realised that something really wasn’t right. That his breathing wasn’t right. He was coughing like a bark but didn’t seem able to take a breath in. He was sort of swallowing air instead and then doing these horrible burps and retches in between coughs, but it was all really irregular. Hubby later likened it to drowning, as he couldn’t get air in, or cough the fluid out. It was terrifying. He couldn’t even cry and he looked really scared. Eventually he coughed up a huge bit of phlegm and managed to get a breath in, although his breathing was still very irregular and laboured and his lips were turning blue. By now the panic was creeping in and we didn’t know what to do for our precious boy. We were so scared for him.

I suggested calling the ambulance and hubby agreed. Neither of us have ever called 999 before in our lives, and we can count on one hand the number of times Monkey has needed to see a Dr so we were very much in unchartered territory.We’ve called the NHS helplines before, when I had a hideous ear infection, and when I was delirious with a fever the first time I had mastitis. We also called once when monkey was doing horrible grey poos. But this just shows how worried we were, breathing is one thing that you just don’t mess around with and we knew that 999 was our only option. The operator was very helpful and tried her best to keep me calm and together we monitored his breathing while we waited for the emergency response vehicle. Thankfully by this point his colour was returning and though still laboured and irregular his breathing had improved and he was calming down a lot.

A very friendly paramedic arrived and she was so lovely. Our little shy boy got a bit scared by this new presence in his bedroom and he got very upset when she stuck a sensor on his toe to monitor his pulse and heart rate. His pulse ox was low (not enough oxygen was in his blood, how they can measure that by sticking something on your toe I have no idea!) so she started him on a salbutamol nebuliser. Thankfully the mask didn’t have to be over his face, just aimed in his general direction, but he still was not keen on it. We sang and read to him and cuddled him lots to keep him calm but he was obviously really tired and scared by everything that was happening and so very upset! Because of his pulse ox and the croup-like cough the paramedic called for an ambulance to take him to the hospital.

The nebuliser helped and his breathing became less laboured. The ambulance men arrived and we headed off to the hospital. They took his temperature with a fancy laser shone on his forehead, incredible! The paramedic in the ambulance was amazing. Steve, if you are out there, we love you. At the start of the journey Monkey was lying on mummy basically whimpering but by the time we got to the hospital he was sat up and babbling away. Steve turned a bedpan into a a funny hat, found some crayons and a little ambulance man bookmark. He was so good with Monkey and seeing our little man return to himself again was such a relief.

Shortly after arriving at A&E

Shortly after arriving at A&E

We were taken to the minor injuries unit at A&E (phew) and again the nurses and doctors were fantastic and really good at putting Monkey at ease. There was a really funny moment when the Dr was trying to get a glimpse at Monkey’s throat. The three of us adults had our mouths open and tongues out while encouraging monkey to say aah. He was looking at us like we had gone nuts and occasionally did it, but never for long enough, or facing the right direction for the Dr to get a glimpse. He was so lovely and patient though and eventually he got a split second glimpse, which was enough.

They confirmed he has croup, a viral infection of the throat and said  the risk was that his throat could swell shut. They gave him a dose of steroids to prevent this happening and we had to stay there for half an hour for observation. Monkey took his medicine like an angel and the nurse was impressed by how well he swallowed it, and the yum yum he announced afterwards!

By now, Monkey was back to being our little boy, he was playing with his crayons and then brumming some cars around the room. He charmed everyone he came into contact with and was just such a brave little man.


Over an hour went by and hubby and I were astounded by his energy as it was now gone 1 in the morning! The Dr eventually came back and said we were ok to go home, and told us that the steroids would make him a bit hyper for a while (that explained it) and that he may not want to go to sleep straight away. We headed out to call for a taxi and had a little game of peekaboo while we were waiting!


We headed home in the taxi and as as the taxi driver asked if we were ready to go, Monkey said very happily ‘go!’  and made the taxi driver laugh. It was a rough night for hubby and I. We were awake at about 4.30 after a cough to check he was breathing, and a couple more times after that. We’ve both been shattered today but life goes on and our families have been great and very helpful and supportive.

It has been an exhausting and emotional 24 hours, but my Magic Moment was when Monkey became our little boy again. When he came back to himself and was playing and having fun like nothing had ever happened. Running around barefoot in his mismatched pjs with a huge smile on his face. He took so much of it in his stride and proved to be far more resilient than mummy and daddy! It was a wonderful experience of the NHS too as every single person we came into contact with was incredibly helpful, friendly and caring towards us and I wouldn’t fault the care in any way.



51 thoughts on “The Night Monkey Couldn’t Breathe..

  1. Oh my goodness – how terrifying. My brother suffered from croup regularly as a child, and my mum’s always said how scary it could be, though I don’t remember it clearly, other than his incessant childhood coughing! I’m so pleased all was well, and that your gorgeous little Monkey bounced back so quickly – it never ceases to amaze me how kids can do that. Hope you get some rest tonight x

    • Thank you, my mum has always told me how terrifying croup is too, but it’s hard to really understand it till it happens I think! So glad he bounced back but going to take Hubby and I a few days to feel less exhausted after the worry! xx

  2. Oh my god how scary! You’ve just changed my mind about something. I think EJ may have croup at the moment (since last Monday) his cough sounds a bit like a bark at times. I have been having incredibly broken nights’ of sleep (a bit like having a newborn again!) and feeling more and more jaded and spaced out. I spent a couple of nights on our sofabed downstairs to try and get some more sleep but then felt bad and went back in the room with him last night but right now I’m exhausted and I was going to do the sofabed again but I don’t think I will now – this is just too serious to ignore. I’m so pleased that everything worked out fine with Monkey though – it must have been such an amazing relief to see him back to normal. And it sounds like the NHS have got some pretty nifty equipment these days!

    • Thank you, I am very glad all worked out too and we really did have a very good experience of the NHS! Bless you with your sleep deprivation, it makes everything feel so much harder doesn’t it? I hope EJ gets better soon, if you think it’s croup it might be good to take him to the drs, it was so scary seeing Monkey like that that the thought of a little one with croup scares me now! Really hope he gets better soon and you can get some rest! xx

  3. … my heart was racing reading that because it was very similar to the time our little Charlie started coughing up blood at 8 months. The whole thing was the most terrifying experience of our lives. He couldn’t keep food down for a week and had to survive on milk & dioralyte to keep him hydrated. You just think the worst don’t you? The relief that must have washed over you when you saw him smiling and playing must have been overwhelming. You must have wanted to hug every single paramedic, doctor & nurse that cared for him!

    I’m glad you had a positive experience with the doctors & nurses, ours wasn’t exactly like that unfortunately…. xx

    • Oh my goodness coughing up blood you must have been terrified! Honestly the relief when he started to get back to his normal self was just immense, we couldn’t help but think the worst and I very nearly did hug them all but managed to hold myself back! Sorry to hear your experience of the NHS wasn’t as positive as ours, I was very pleasantly surprised!! xxx

  4. So utterly terrifying. My five year old spent a few days in hospital at the end of last year with tonsillitis, we went off in the ambulance and I’ve never been so scared. What it amazing is how quickly they perk up again. So glad Monkey is on the mend.

    Coming over from #MagicMoments

    • Thank you, it was extremely terrifying but just thank goodness all worked out well in the end. Hope your LO was ok after their hospital stay! xx

  5. Such a scary thing. Croup is indeed terrifying incident. Hope he is settled to normal health now. Thinking of you and your family. Take care!


  6. What a terrifying moment for you, I can relate to this all too well – I hope these moments are few and far between and I am glad monkey is better. x #MagicMoments

    • Thank you, he coped incredibly well with and thankfully he is doing well and has been such a happy chappy today he must be feeling better 🙂 xx

  7. That sounds so so scary but you definitely did the right thing and I’m he’s a lot better now. We had to take little z once when he fell out of bed and my heart was in my mouth as he was bleeding from his nose. He was so chirpy and right as rain by the time we got there and I felt so guilty for going but I would do it again 🙂

    • Oh gosh bless him, well you cannot be too careful and we absolutely wouldn’t change our decision either! xx

  8. My goodness, truly terrifying and exhausting experience for all of you. Reading this sort of post restores a little of my faith in the medical system. Its so so SO lovely to hear of amazing paramedics/nurses and Doctors out there that are able to help a scared and unhappy child and place them in an environment where they feel comfortable. I must admit though….I laughed out loud when I read the bedpan was made into a hat, lol!

    So pleased Monkey is on the up and hope you guys never go through that again! #magicmoments x

    • Thank you for such a lovely comment and I know what you mean, it was very reassuring to be surrounded by such wonderful healthcare professionals through such a terrifying experience. They all did a fantastic job and made the whole thing a lot easier. Thank you, he is great and I hope we don’t have to go through it again either! Xx

  9. Oh my that is so scary! We had to call 999 when our kiddos were about 3 months old as Master J had a funny turn. It turned out to be nothing but all the NHS staff were brilliant. I know we complain about the NHS every chance we get but actually when you interact with the actual staff they’re pretty awesome.

    • Oh gosh it was terrifying, and that must have been so scary with them being so diddy! I know what you mean, and I for one am hugely grateful for the NHS! XX

  10. Oh Caroline, how scary! Croup is a thing my three have never suffered with, thank goodness, but it sounds horrendous! Really hope your little man is much better now, and that you and your husband got some rest. Very cute pictures of Monkey, even despite him being unwell – what a brave boy! E x

    • It really was terrifying and I am glad your three haven’t been through it, it was not fun at all. Thankfully he did perk up and was so brave, i am so proud of him – I think I’m still recovering though to be honest! xx

  11. Wow Caroline, what an ordeal, no that doesn’t even describe it. Poor you! It’s never easy as a parent to witness this. I am so glad he is ok now. Reading your post is like reliving days and nights with Buba. We have had this happen many times, each A&E visit never got easier. In the end we know what to expect when he gets a cold but it is still scary. We have inhalers now that help to prevent getting to this stage. Hopefully it was a one off for monkey. It really does age us going through things like this. I know exactly the panic you felt in that moment. So hard. Thank you for linking up to Share With Me. Not that I am glad you experienced it but to know others understand and have been through what we have too, it’s not just us. I have never felt so helpless in my life. Biggest hugs to you and monkey. Glad he is smiling again. #sharewithme

    • Thanks Jenny and poor you guys for having to go through it more than once, I’m not sure how I’d cope if it was more of a regular occurrence! Good that you now know how to prevent it and have the inhalers. I really hope it was a one of for Monkey but I know we will worry for some time to come yet over any nightly noises. Hard to forget that feeling again. Thank you, he is grinning away like nothing ever happened, thank goodness! xx

    • It was terrifying and honestly it was such a good experience from the NHS I feel so lucky that t all worked out so well! xx

  12. Gosh, this must have been terrifying – I can’t begin to imagine what you went through. I am ever so glad that he’s on the mend and that everything is ok. What a terrible experience for you all. Poor little guy #ShareWithMe

    • Thank you, me too, it was one of the most scar nights of my life, just the panic and helplessness you feel. not fun and I hope we don’t have to go through it again in a hurry! xx

  13. That must have been terrifying, your poor little monkey. It’s so awful when they aren’t well and I can’t even think how I would feel if my little man was struggling to breathe.
    I hope he’s a lot better now xx

    • Thank you it was so terrifying, still don’t like to think about it, he is absolutely fine now though, thank goodness! xx

  14. Poor monkey! It must have been terrifying… luckily your little man was well looked after. I was hanging on to your every word as I was reading this post. x Mel #Sharewithme #MagicMoments

    • It really was so scary but everyone was so wonderful we really were very lucky and all is well that ends well! xx

  15. Oh my goodness, that must have been so scary. You should be proud that you acted so quickly and calmly though. My youngest two both suffer from croup- although not as bad- and it really can be frightening. I’m so glad he is better now and YAY for the wonderful NHS staff!
    x x x

  16. Oh my you poor things!
    Reading this gave me chills at the memory of having to rush my little man in with bronchiolitis at just 8mths – it was terrifying and wasn’t the last time but now nearly 4 his breathing seems to have improved. He’s my 3rd child and even still we’d barely ever had to deal with hospitals before.

    Hope he’s recovering now! xx

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