My Baby's Breathing Issue

Sona Charaipotra

Baby With Stethoscope
Flickr photo by supervillain

So for about six weeks now, baby Kavya's had this weird congestion, a grunting and wheezing -- so much so that I've taken to calling her the Gremlin. She growls her way through the day and into the night, and she sometimes snores like a grown-up.

Considering that this is my first baby, at first I didn't think it was a big deal. We were in the midst of winter, and I thought it might just be a cold or the kind of congestion many newborns experience -- yes, of course I googled it. So we used the aspirator and got her a cool-mist humidifier, as recommended by my baby's pediatrician, who's also her grandma.

But then I saw this article on WebMD, which said strained breathing was a serious symptom. And I kept hearing about RSV. Then there was that whole swine flu thing. But the real reason I worried was because my dad, also a pediatrician, started talking about all these obscure diseases when he noticed that she was still congested after a month. He admitted that he might be suffering from medical student syndrome, in which docs-in-training (he's studying for an upcoming exam) think they and their loved ones suffer from every disease known to modern medicine. But naturally, I panicked. Big time.

My husband remained the voice of reason, saying it was likely nothing -- and even if it was, we'd deal with it. But in the meantime, Dr. Nani-Ma wrote up a referral to an ENT. And so, last week off we went to visit the specialist, who was more than 40 minutes away.

I have to say, the week we waited to get our appointment was harrowing. I'll admit it: I cried. Quite a bit. And waiting in the ENT's office for 45 minutes for the doctor to see us was painful. But nothing was more excruciating than hearing poor Kavi cry as the ENT stuck that little scope up her nose to see what was going on. She's so little and so unsuspecting -- she had no idea it was coming. It was for her own good, but it still hurt. Me more than her, probably, since she's long since forgotten about it. And I never will.

So it turns out it wasn't nothing. She has a slightly weak trachea, which is what causes the difficult breathing. But it's not uncommon and it'll improve by itself over time, as she grows and gets stronger. We just have to watch her and revisit the ENT if for some reason it gets worse. But it was scary.

I'm glad, in the end, that we visited the ENT. If for nothing else, we have a bit of peace of mind. But I need to learn not to completely freak myself out and get so emotional. These things happen sometimes. And in the end, we were lucky. She'll be fine.

Do you google your little one's symptoms on the web?

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