Please read Part 1 (below) if you havent already.
Abram first began coughing at night around the middle of May. It didnt sound good but he wasnt waking up. He began gagging at the end of the cough and it was loud and hard enough for me to run to his bed - but he still wasnt waking up. I figured it was allergies and tried to remind myself that Ive always heard that its not an issue if they arent even waking. I took him to see our family Dr. and he too thought it was allergies. For three days we used allergy medicine and nasal spray but nothing changed. The cough continued to worsen and my mommy instincts got more and more uneasy.
The first stage of whooping cough is 1-2 weeks long. It usually involves cold symptoms, sometimes a low grade fever and a dry cough. At the end of this phase Abrams cough suddenly turned. It was more and more violent and he began to wake up from the "attacks" at night. He also began coughing during the day, especially after eating.
Friday night of a holiday weekend I sent an email to our Drs. Something was not right with my baby. He would cough and cough and cough until his face was bright red and this sticky saliva came from his mouth. It was horrible to watch :( I already strongly suspected Whooping Cough at this time. During my vaccine research I had listend to an audio file of whooping cough. I found some additional video on Youtube. Although he didnt have the characteristic "whoop" he had all the other symptoms. I sent a video to our Drs as well - it was impossible to believe how bad it was without seeing it for yourself. You can watch the video HERE but please be warned its hard to watch :(
The first attack of the night was always the worst. Id have to hold/watch him while he was sleeping because he'd just sit straight up, mouth wide open, trying to get a breath. It was horrifying. We'd just pray, "Breathe in the name of Jesus!". He'd eventually draw a deep breath and start a coughing attack. It got the point that I feared he'd stop breathing, pass out or even die. I had a nurse friend remind me of CPR techniques over the phone. I dreaded bedtime all day long. Oddly, with whooping cough, they are perfectly fine between attacks. He'd play normally, no fever or even a runny nose. Then out of nowhere an attack would hit again.
We took him in and they did a nasal swab for pertussis and an xray. The xray showed he had bilateral pneumonia (both sides). Our Drs believed that was the cause of the cough and bronchial spasms but I just knew in my heart it was a result of the whooping cough. We started that day with 4 days of big antibiotic shots in his bum. Two days later the test results came back - positive for pertussis.
The rest of us had already begun antibiotics. If you take antibiotics in the first stage of pertussis you can stop the disease from progressing and you also are no longer contagious after 5 days. Abram began on this after the test results came back. It was VERY hard to get it down him though. I literally had to sit on him and he still only swallowed maybe half (on a good day). The antibiotics cant help you once you are to the second stage Abram was in but at least he could be less or non contagious.
After the 4 days of shots Abram began a third antibiotic to continue to treat the pneumonia. The very worst of his night attacks were probably 3-5 days but his second stage lasted much, much longer than that. Even now, 2 months later, he still has occasional bad attacks.
The times he'd stop breathing were due to the pneumonia though and those stopped once the antibiotics did their thing. They call pertussis the 100 day cough and now I know why. We are on day 70-something I think and like I said, he's still coughing.
I could never express the anxiety and fear I faced at the worst of it. I doubted every decision Ive ever made as a mother. I was lacking faith, afraid my child would die in my arms. But our community of friends and believers came around us with love and acceptance. No one judged us, they brought us meals and prayed for us and I was soooooo blessed by that.
Whooping cough damages their lungs. That means for months and even years any cough can bring back the "whooping cough like" cough. For instance the other day he was drinking a small amount of water and it went down wrong and he had a full-on attack, red-faced, etc. Thats why we have to be extra careful with him catching even a simple cold. We've kept him away from kids, church, etc. for over 2 months now. We are slowly starting to go out and be around people again :)