FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Between the baby and the dog, I think I have had more than my share of hacking coughs, mucus and vomit this week.

You'd think that having an 11-year-old dog with multiple health issues, I would be used to it, but there is something about a sick baby that is just heart wrenching.

My husband woke me up Sunday morning with four words I hope I don't hear again for a while: "What's the pediatrician's number'"

The baby's eyes were practically glued shut (don't worry daycare moms, he was diagnosed and treated before we brought him back to daycare) and his little voice was hoarse from all of the coughing he had been doing.

I don't care who you are: The sound of a baby's hoarse cries and the sight of his chest heaving as he coughs is enough to break anyone's heart.

Because the next day was a training holiday, my husband was able to take him to the doctor as soon as the office opened.

It was some kind of infection, she said, and started him on a round of antibiotics that day.
I have always liked our pediatrician. She stuck with me when I had my own ideas about how to much to feed my son. She didn't ridicule me when I, in an attempt to explain my stance on delaying solid foods, quoted a non-existent medical organization. But the day after my son's appointment, when he tried to look at me through matted eyes and coughed so hard he spit up, I hated her.

I hated that she couldn't give him a magic pill that would immediately erase his symptoms. I hated that no one prepared me for the feelings of anxiety and helplessness I felt as I wiped his runny nose for the umpteenth time that day, or when he erupted into a coughing fit while eating. I hated that on top of the reflux medicine he takes twice a day, he now had to take two additional medicines.

But sometime around the third day of his sickness, I noticed something. He was coughing less, and his eyes were getting better. He also seemed happier, though when he laughed, I could still hear the hoarseness in his voice.

By the time we left for the weekend, over the course of which several relatives would meet him for the first time, it was like he had never been sick at all.

But I will never forget how his illness made me feel. How I took his temperature four times, back-to-back, three different ways, to see if he had a fever.

The anxiety I felt when he didn't seem to get any better. And the relief that washed over me when it was obvious that he was. I can't say for sure that I will handle things any better if, no, when, he gets sick again, but at least next time I will be better prepared.

And even though I can't make the medicine work any faster, I know that he will be OK.
As for the dog, a little Pepto-Bismol and a couple of treats later, he was fine. It's just too bad that doesn't work for babies, too.