I knew it was inevitable: the Darth Vader breathing, the barky cough… Yes, folks: the middle of the night trip to the ER has come upon us once again.

I write this as I lay on the bed with James asleep on my chest, knowing that — at 5:19 a.m. — what I should be doing is falling asleep, but too hyped up to be able to close my eyes. (Although, to be honest, it could be the 10-minute dose of epinephrine I got along with James. The only way I could keep the face mask on him was to hold him to me, practically cheek to cheek, and take in that mist as I sang “Don’t Fence Me In” to him over and over again. Which, come to think of it, might have been the reason he was crying and *not* the medicated mist blowing in his face. After all, Lucy and Will have clearly inherited the my-mommy-is-not-allowed-to-sing-out-loud gene. Who knows how early it starts?)

Happily, medication now inhaled, he seems to be breathing much better. There is not a strider to be heard. (I can assure you I wouldn’t be writing this if the situation were otherwise.) I’m not sure what the doctor will say about staying overnight, but I’m feeling much better about everything right about now as is James, it appears, given how soundly he is sleeping.

With that in mind, I thought I’d jot down a few things for future reference;

1) That thing I was saying to someone earlier today about needing to purge and then repack the diaper bag? That would have been a good thing to do before going to bed. That way I might not be lugging two diaper bags and several stray blankets — “just in case” — around with me right now.

2) Thank goodness for my iPhone! I remember this experience several times over with Lucy and Will. Lying alone in the middle of the night with a sick baby is awful. Having the world be at my fingertips — whether it’s being able to text Kelley and other family re. progress, getting (o.k., fishing for) support (knowing that if I posted anything about where I am right now I would almost immediately be receiving well wishes from friends near and far), or distraction (I have nine whole chapters of story posted and ready for editing, not to mention facebook, twitter, general web surfing, and, oh right, three months’ worth of emails I could start to return)… Well, it certainly helps pass the time and, more importantly, keeps my mind from wandering and worrying. Plus I can be getting all these thoughts out of my head so that I can maybe get some sleep!

3) Be careful what you wish for: I kept saying how much I wanted to spend some major quality time with James on this last day before he goes to daycare. Spending it at Children’s Hospital wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. (Considering something very similar happened with Lucy re. this coming Friday, I would just like to state for the record that, as much as I’d also like some quality time with Will, could we try for a non-medical-related, purely happy thing? I mean, I’m good with a movie, even a trip to mcdonald’s in a pinch. Something that doesn’t involve doctors, nurses, or any type of emergency worker would be more than fine with me.)

4) Pee* when you can. Although I’m not sure I would have done anything differently (having a doctor tell you that, yes, a 4 a.m. trip to the hospital is advised certainly provides you with a level of urgency), a sleeping baby lying on top of me for going on an hour now isn’t exactly doing my bladder any favors.

*apologies to my mother and anyone else offended by the use of this word

5) Wear layers. I am wishing that I’d thought to put on a short sleeve shirt when I left the house as it’s been quite warm in this room during these last few hours. Of course, now I’m happy to have long sleeves as it seems as though the air conditioning just got turned on. Options would be good.

And, last but not least, 6) Trust your instincts. Or, rather, I should say, trust your instincts when they say to call the doctor: When I heard the telltale croup signs at 3 a.m., I was proud of myself for calmly bringing James over to an open window and then bringing him outside for a few minutes. And as, 10 minutes later, (and, yes, at kelley’s much-calmer-than-I-even-though-I-was-doing-quite-well-thank-you-very-much suggestion) I sat on the floor of a steamy bathroom telling myself not to panic because we’d been here before and knew what to look for. Still, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to just check in with the dr. Low (lo?) and behold, she says to take him to the ER because ‘this isn’t something we like to see in babies this age’. And then to have the attending physician say he wants us to stay in the hospital for the whole day and night because croup doesn’t peak until the third night and given how severe the symptoms were in just the first few hours…

Um, well, nice job, jen, on the not panicking. Missing that he was getting worse and not better? Not so much.

That said, I am glad that, so far, I seem to have learned enough about this mothering thing to realize that the instinct I’m trusting isn’t my ability to diagnose and treat my kid’s illness but instead to know that it’s never a waste of time to make that 3 a.m. phone call to the doctor’s office, even when you think everything is going o.k. I’m really hoping that, as the ER doctor just said, James will ‘impress us’ and not need breathing meds every three or four hours today. If it turns out, however, that he does need that medication, we’re spending the next 24 hours at a world-class children’s hospital. Considering the circumstances, there’s no place I’d rather be.