Ah, Mothers’ Day. What does it mean for you? For me it often means some musing over apostrophe placement (I say it goes at the end because it’s a day for all mothers); a lazy brunch; and extra cuddles.

While this mothers’ day had all of the above and a pretty spectacular, thoughtful gift I also found myself having a day where I had to step up as a Mum. Well, one where I stepped up and – in some respect – I failed. Because that’s what we do, isn’t it? It’s a learn-on-the-job kind of career, with very little investment in professional development. And maybe this learning just might help other mummas and daddas out there.

Throughout the day missy had exhibited a pretty spectacular cough. We dismissed it a bit because, well, three-year-olds who frequent childcare get coughs. It was a cough she had for more than a week so we didn’t think a lot of it.

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Then, come the night it got worst, as coughs tend to do. There was no wheeze, so I figured it wasn’t asthma (which I suffer from). We gave her paracetamol, ibuprofen, honey, cough medicine, everything we could find really. We even tried cutting up an onion and hanging it over her bed because that’s supposed to work (I’m not sure it did and now my entire house smells like onions).

Then, I went down to check on her after she cried. All of a sudden she was coughing 20 times a minute (yes, I timed it) and I was concerned. She didn’t have a chance to draw breath before coughing all over again.

I decided it was time to see somebody. Unfortunately, our local doctor refused to see us (despite my pleas), arguing they were fully booked and directing me to the hospital. Last time we were in the same situation the hospital pretty much laughed me out of emergency for my overreaction (which may have something to do with why we left it as long as we had).

So, I called Nurse On Call. For 15 minutes a kind woman talked me through medicating her further and listening to her cough. She then said, “You need to go to emergency”. My heart leapt with worry. “What would you have done if you hadn’t called us?” she asked. I said I tried to get into a doctor. “We’re a bit beyond that” she said, making shame rise up from my toes.

And so it is we found ourselves in emergency, dealing with a condescending triage nurse and then a lovely set of staff, who calmly explained that missy was having her first asthma attack. That’s right, no wheeze and asthma. This is the reason I write this blog. To not only admit a parental fail,  but to educate others. Asthma in children does not necessarily mean a wheeze, it can present as a bad cough. I wish I knew. Though in some ways I felt vindicated after years of trying to tell doctors she had asthma. If in doubt, go to hospital.

It was a long night. Hours of treatment, a chest X-ray and lying about before a 3am drive home. It was more of a mothers’ day than any mothers’ day I had known. It was a day where I was all about being a mother. A day where my girl needed me.

And, yes, I am beating myself up for not recognising a cough for an asthma attack, but I learnt something and I can share that so somebody else doesn’t have the day I had. And today, the day after mothers’ day, we are having a pyjama day. The best kind of day. The treatment is working and my girl is happy and that makes me the happiest kind of mumma.

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