I talked with JB this morning and he told me that Riley had been coughing, had sounded phlegmy and awful and he woke up at 3 and JB was so worried about the sound of his breathing he slept propped in our bed with Riley in his arms until 6, when presumably the various ominous creaking sounds in his back woke everyone up for good.

He took Riley to the pediatrician who diagnosed croup. Croup! I told my coworker about this and she said, “Croup? I thought no one got that any more.” Croup is so 1800’s.

But no, croup is alive and well and currently residing in my baby boy’s air passages. Riley got some kind of oral steroid (…steroids? Really? Is he going to, like, grow a bunch of zits and Hulk out and start whaling on us when the sippy cup isn’t produced in time?) and was sent home where according to JB he’s eating and acting just fine, except for this seal-bark cough business.

I know just how stressful the last 24 hours has been for JB and it was scary to be so far away and have to wait to hear what the doctor said and I feel really, really bad that Riley got sick while I’m gone.

And maybe I’m also just a tiny, eentsy, microscopic bit glad I missed it. Maybe.


My first full day at Macworld went by surprisingly quickly, normally I feel like I spend a lot of time standing around bitching about how much my feet hurt and how booooring it all is but today I found myself oddly excited to talk with people. There is something great about connecting with people in person, seeing real live humans that love Workplace’s software; for a marketing person who mostly writes gobbledygook that gets tossed out at sea for the faceless masses it’s satisfying in some deeply geeky way.

I saw Macworld Hugging Lady, the incredibly wonderful woman who *hugs* me each and every year and tells me how much she likes that newsletter thingie I write. “I missed you last year, girl. You had that baby, right?” she asked, and I said yes I sure did.

I also saw Ed, the folksy elderly gentleman who I swear has stepped right from the magnolia-scented pages of some wonderful old novel set in the South, whose accent I could listen to all day long. I see Ed every Macworld, bless his heart, he comes for the whole damn week. We talked about aching feet and he said, “Yep, them old girls start talking after a while, don’t they.”

My only view of S.F. today was the path between my hotel and the Moscone, for the most part, and as I type this I have a room service pizza cooling on the table, intended as comfort food to make amends for the embarrassing, lame “meet and greet” I was subjected to a few hours ago. Yes, I treat emotional discomfort with food, is that UNHEALTHY or something?

Hey, so I was right on the iPhone announcement, but that was kind of a no-shitter. The price point pisses me off, because I’m sure I’ll want one of the damn things by the time they ship. I don’t even like cell phones. Stupid Apple and their stupid compelling consumer products.

I feel like an impostor this week, every aspect of my day is so unlike my normal life it’s truly bizarre. I am enjoying myself somewhat and feeling guilty for that, because the fact that I’m taking any pleasure from this temporary state of affairs seems bad, like I should just be completely unhappy and vowing never to travel again ever because O the tragic separation of mother and child, and then I get irritated with myself for feeling guilty because god, I only have one event per year that requires travel, it’s no big deal, and really, the fun never stops when it comes to parenting self-criticism.

Okay, I have a question for you guys: why do hotels include both a built-in gratuity charge and a place to add a tip on that little piece of paper you sign when you get room service? I mean, if they add 16% to the bill for the gratuity, isn’t that sufficient?

Lastly, the view from my hotel window this morning:


P.S. My aunt’s blog continues to be extremely awesome. I recommend bookmarking that page, because her writing is worth your while.


41 Responses to “Day two dispatch”

  1. Pete on January 9th, 2007 11:54 pm

    They want you to feel guilty and tip some more. My wife will tip even if the guy spits on her food. Having been a waiter I only tip if they do there job well. I also want one of those phones and I just got a Treo 680 so I can’t get the discount from the phone company.

  2. mom on a wire on January 10th, 2007 12:15 am

    Croup veteran here. Zibbit has gotten it no less than five frillion times. I can give you any scenario- ER, urgent care, drs in every state. She got it our first night in Disneyland, even. Anyway. Got questions, I’m the one to ask.

  3. Mama Ritchie on January 10th, 2007 1:35 am

    Croup. That’s so Little Women. My nephew got Scarlett Fever a few years ago. Straight out of Dickens, yo.

    I hate Apple and its addictive products. I was just listening to my new postage-stamp-sized Shuffle and I swear, the next version is going to have to be directly implanted into my brain in order to top the awesomeness that this Shuffle embodies. It’s like my very own soundtrack to my very own movie. 35 going on 13.

    I hope Riley is feeling better soon and quit beating yourself up and enjoy the room service. And DON’T double tip those bastards!

  4. mo on January 10th, 2007 2:50 am

    ahhh. kid got croup like, once? two years ago and i thought he was dying and took him to the ER where they looked at me like i was retarded because, obviously, everyone knows what croup is? and now he gets it all the time when he stays with the ex and, i dunno, maybe hes really prone to getting it? but he never does, here? except for that one time at the start and once about a month ago. and i keep wondering what the hell the ex is doing to him to make him get croupy like, twice a month at least?
    also, he’s been given the whole steroid thing a couple of times and the ex freaked out because, omg! steroids! medicine! evilness! until a nurse somewhere told him that the kid would be a helluva lot worse off without it. but umm, no apology for me on that one.

    which is totally unhelpful for you but it made me feel good and uh, i know how you feel about the croup thing and the frustrating feeling bad for not being there but also happy you dont have to deal with it kind of thing, right with you on that one.

  5. Nicole on January 10th, 2007 3:12 am

    When Ella was teeny tiny she got croup and I was just remembering the other day all the fun we had standing in the shower breathing the steamy air. For hours. In the middle of the night. i guess I am lucky that she only got it one time. I agree though about how the cough sounds like a death rattle, surely the child is on the point of dying but the doctor acts like you are the most hysterical parents alive rushing into the ER, since its just CROUP, for heavens sake. I think that its great that JB is handling this so well- and it makes up a bit for the times when he was away travelling and you were alone with a sick baby. Sick babies are no fun- I wouldn’t waste too much time feeling guilty about not being there. Riley is being well taken care of by a loving parent. I think you have earned atleast one get out of jail free card. Use it.

    Re: the gratuity. You should ask the manager if the gratuity helps make up their wages or is in addition to their wages (ie, are they earning minimum wage only?) If it is used to pay their basic wages, I would insist on having removed from the bill and pay cash directly to the person. I think that is a completely unethical way for management to cheat the staff out of what is supposed to be a “gift” from the client for a job well done. I hate when I see that on a bill.

  6. mrscrumley on January 10th, 2007 4:42 am

    Croup went around our church in November… some kids were barking and running around fine, some were so bad they had to go to the ER. Fuller had it, but he was of the barking and running around acting fine variety. Hope Riley gets better soon.

  7. Nikki on January 10th, 2007 4:52 am

    My youngest had croup several times when he was a baby, exacerbated by the fact that he had asthma as well. It’s fairly easily managed but scared the crap out of me each and every time it occurred.
    Thankfully, it doesn’t last forever and they tend to outgrow it.
    Steroids worried me too (Ryan took them for his asthma), more because of the impact they can have on a kiddo’s growth than anything else. He’s a short little guy but I think that’s genetics more than anything :P
    Hope Riley feels better soon!!!

  8. Swistle on January 10th, 2007 4:58 am

    My brother and I got croup all the time as children, so I recognized it when Felicity got it a few weeks ago, but it still–in your words from another column–“freaked my shit out.” It sounds HORRIBLE.

    Around here, here’s what they tell you to do. Take child into bathroom with you, close the door, turn the shower on totally hot, and sit there on the closed toilet seat with the child on your lap until the water runs cold or you both start feeling like you’re going to die of steam suffocation. Then take child directly outside into the cold night air and both sit there gasping with relief and impending frostbite. Usually this combination makes the scary breathing stop.

    They also tell us to call the 24 hour nurse line (do you have one of those at your pediatrician’s office? so help me I’d like to french kiss that 24 hour nurse line) just to double-check the symptoms with the nurse, because they don’t want you screwing around with breathing issues, and because they want to freak you out still further by saying things like “If she starts drooling, don’t even call me back, just go straight to the ER.” Also because if the steam/cold treatment doesn’t work, it’s “the other kind of croup” (there are two) and they want to get the child on medication.

  9. LeAnne on January 10th, 2007 6:28 am

    Croup, yup my daughter got it right before Thanksgiving – some people in our family thought it was the plague and were all like “I don’t want her near my child, ohmygod, she’s going to infect him!” So yeah, croup sounds awful and we sure do feel bad for our kids when they get it, but in the long run, it really isn’t ALL that bad. Good luck!

  10. warcrygirl on January 10th, 2007 6:28 am

    The tip you can leave in your room? A note saying “the gratuity charge is enough!” But then again I’m just like that.

  11. Julie on January 10th, 2007 7:00 am

    Do take the time to enjoy yourself Sundry… for soon enough, you will be home where, if our weather here in BC is any indication, you will be contending with snow! And more wind! Add to that some Hail! Even some Lightning, what the hell. It looks so nice in SF – is that, gasp, sunshine? How can you tell I’m feeling sorry for myself. Hope the wee’un is better very soon. Aunt Linda’s site has been duly bookmarked and I am very much enjoying her smart, sharp writing.

  12. ang on January 10th, 2007 7:25 am

    I tip for the person who cleans my room, but I’m just doing it for the good karma. I say screw Apple too. Two words to share: Microsoft Zune. (go buy one! you’ll LOVE it)

  13. Sadie on January 10th, 2007 7:36 am

    It seems the previous commenters have sufficiently reassured you that the croup is fairly common, and not the result of your criminal neglect or anything, and I will ice that cake with my own croup story: my younger brother got the croup so frequently as a baby/child, that I learned to recognize its distinctive rattly cough very early. I shared a room with him and as he wheezed in his crib, I would awaken my mother (I must have been 7,8?) and report, “Jesse’s gettin’ the croup again.”

  14. Ang on January 10th, 2007 8:00 am

    Oh, poor Riley. And poor hubby to be the one to get to deal with it. My son gets croup on occassion — those steroids will whip him back into shape in no time.

  15. Amalah on January 10th, 2007 8:15 am

    Aw, poor Riley. We haven’t had croup yet but it sounds just awful.

    Oh, and I just got a Blackberry Pearl last week and was so pleased with myself. Until yesterday, when I saw the iPhone. NICE TIMING, APPLE. THANKS.

  16. April on January 10th, 2007 8:17 am

    Oh, so croup when you are 2 = not fun. Croup when you are 25 = 2 day hospital stay, one of those being in intensive care, with an overall bill of around $16K. Thank god for health insurance. My doctors told me that I was the only 25 year old they had ever seen with croup, and I had like 20 nosy interns wanting to take a look-see down my throat with a camera. It was awful.

    Anyways, so regarding the hotel bill – I would say that, technically, it’s in case you want to add more tip than 16%…. but most people don’t realize it’s there so they tip again, which is the scenario they’re probably hoping for (greedy bastards).

  17. Carol on January 10th, 2007 8:52 am

    I thought the same thing when my youngest ended up with “the croup”. She’s had it a couple of times and we just give her the good stuff from the old doc and she recovers quite nicely.

    Personally, you should focus on that part of you that is glad to miss this sickness. Your boy is in capable hands and your being there would not make Riley well any faster. Shake it off, call every once and a while to check in and the rest of the time, enjoy your freedom! You’ll be home and back into the routine soon enough…with plenty of childhood illnesses to deal with.

  18. Amanda on January 10th, 2007 8:53 am

    You picked a damn fine week to come to SF! And the fact that you’re enjoying yourself doesn’t mean you subconsciously wish this was how your life was – it just means it’s nice to get a fucking break every once in a while! Enjoy yourself.

  19. Misty on January 10th, 2007 9:42 am

    JR had croup, and yea, I think he was 2, or nearing 2. Out of day care for about a week. it sucked. I hope Riley gets better soon!

  20. Cari on January 10th, 2007 9:59 am

    I seem to recall a time when the boy was barfing up milk (which, EW) for two days while JB was away. You are totally not a bad person for being a teensy bit glad you don’t have to deal with a barking seal for a child for a few more days. I’m sure JB is surprisingly capable of handling it and he will appreciate you even more when you get home, if that is humanly possible.

    And I’m with you on the double gratuity: WTF? They bring you food, for christ’s sake, not clean up milk barf. Someone should be tipping YOU for not leaving funk on the blanket or something.

  21. squandra on January 10th, 2007 10:43 am

    Nah. Dude, everyone’s getting croup.

  22. Bianca on January 10th, 2007 10:47 am

    I’m going to sound like a selfish childless bitch here but I don’t think enough people are saying this. (By the way, I AM a selfish childless bitch, so it works out fine).

    Have fun! I know it’s hard, I know you miss your baby and if it isn’t goddamn Murphy’s Law that he gets sick while you’re gone, then I don’t know what is. Look at this as a little mommy treat. You work so hard with that boy and that amazes me every day. You give up so much of yourself and I know he appreciates it…okay, maybe he’s too young to know what appreciation is, but you know what I mean.

    However, I will say this: Riley will turn into and thoughtful, intelligent and caring young man because of you and I guarantee you that when he is old enough to understand he will say to you “Mama, take a little break, even from me. You deserve it. I love you and I want you to enjoy being in one of the world’s most awesome cities”

    It’s okay if the guilt kicks in every once in a while, that’s natural but don’t forget yourself either. You’re not a bad parent. You set the bar so high for so many parents out there that my wish to never have children has actually been cemented because there’s no way I could devote as much time to a baby as you do without becoming clinically depressed. I know that sounds morbid and awful and all the momies on here are going to hate me for saying it, but it’s true in my situation.

    Allow yourself those little moments of self-indulgence, in the end, they help to keep you sane.

  23. ginger on January 10th, 2007 1:03 pm

    Uh, all I know about croup I learned from Little Women, so I got nothing on that – but you are missing a grade-A Weather Hysteria Fit here, so enjoy SF and a minute-long foot commute. (Today, the news actually had a senior anchor, whatshisface who looks sort of like Dean Cain, telling us about snow in Mill Creek. I suspect he lives around the corner and didn’t want to come in.)

    Also, fun facts: the anabolic steroids that people take to bulk up in the gym are sex steroids, whereas the ones you get for your lungs (or knees or hips), to reduce inflammation, are corticosteroids. If he was on high doses for months, Riley would be likely to have poor immune status and weird fat distributions (“moon face”), but ‘roid rage and backne are side effects of the sex steroids. So any rage he expresses is his own sweet self.

  24. Sonia on January 10th, 2007 1:43 pm

    I’m so digging your Aunt’s website. I was hooked the first day.

  25. fellowmom on January 10th, 2007 1:48 pm

    My son has had croup twice. Even the second time, I ran him to the ER, because the wheezing and weird sounding cough scare the crap out of me. Both times, though, the sound was the worst thing. His disposition was great. The ER nurse even said, “he’s a happy wheezer–we get a lot of those.” One tip–the cold air works without the hot steam first. The doctor explained that the sound results from inflamation of the trachea, which allows very little air to pass through. In little ones, the trachea is not so big to begin with, so it doesn’t take much inflammation to result in wheezing and that weird sounding cough. Once the cold air hits the respiratory system, it causes the inflammation to decrease and the airway enlarges. About 2 minutes outside has consistently improved my son’s symptoms when they have occured. (And I am desperate for something to make the horrible scary wheezing/cough go away.) Just make sure Riley is bundled up–only his respiratory system needs to be exposed to the cold. Also–put an unltrasonic cool mist humifier in his room. Get one of the approximately $25 Crane models (shaped like animals, etc.) After much trial and error, that’s the best one I’ve found.

    Other topic: my husband worked as a bell man in college. With tips it was not a bad job, but everyone wanted to deliver room service, because those people raked in the dough. So, I’m thinking you don’t need to add anything to the gratuity they automatically add. I do tip the person who cleans my room. I always leave a note, which makes it clear the money is a tip for housekeeping, because I don’t want anyone to worry about being accused of theft.

  26. Lawyerish on January 10th, 2007 2:06 pm

    I grew up in the South, where it wasn’t just croup but THE CROUP. It always did strike me as being very 1800s, like consumption or the ague.

  27. Crystal on January 10th, 2007 3:43 pm

    Linda, did you ever get the urge to dress Steve Jobs up as a pirate, a hippie, or a pimp? Then have I got the site for you.


  28. muriel on January 10th, 2007 3:50 pm

    croup survivors here as well. my 4 1/2 year old had it constantly during his first 3 winter seasons of life! sounds like you caught it early, so way to go!

    and don’t be too hard on yourself for enjoying your trip away! mom’s don’t get those kind of breaks nearly often enough!

  29. paige on January 10th, 2007 5:22 pm

    Well, having worked in the hospitality industry for over three years, I think I may have some insight into the double tipping dilemma. When you order room service, it takes several people to get it put together…the cook, the banquet person who usually gets your trey set up with all the cute little condiment bottles, and the person who eventually runs it up to your room. The 16-18% gratuity is added on automatically basically to ensure that no one gets shafted. The second “tip” is just there for your preference…i.e. you had a special order and they took care of you, your company is reimbursing you for all your expenses, etc. And sure, lots of guests will grumble that an $8 hamburger ultimately cost them $14, but it comes down to what is more important…convenience or price. It’s the same reason a 4 pack of tampons will cost you $7 at the gas station! But if you don’t feel like leaving the second tip, don’t worry about it…that’s what the automatic tip is there for. =)

  30. Joanne on January 10th, 2007 5:45 pm

    I’ve heard of a lot of kids in my groups getting croup recently. I always thought steam was best for the cough but my friend Rachel’s doctor recommended cold, so she bundled up her boy and let him outside for a few minutes and she said it really helped. GOD I am with you on the being glad you were gone while he was sick, I would have been too. It makes me crazy when my boy gets sick and I get it, and my HUSBAND gets it too. Just once I want to be sick and taken care of! OH and I would tip 4 or 5 percent if it were me, because I like to tip 20%. I’m a lifetimes waitress and can’t stop with the tipping.

  31. jen on January 10th, 2007 6:17 pm

    I hope Riley feels better soon :) Thanks for the re-link. I did read your aunt’s page and enjoyed it and then it slipped out of my mind! I will bookmark it this time.

  32. LLL on January 10th, 2007 6:26 pm

    OMG! My daughter (who will be a year next week), got croup two weeks ago! I also thought it was an extinct viral thingy as well. She also got the steroids and was doing better in about 2 days. The cough hung on for another few days. She is doing great now. It was really scary. It was the first time in a year I have called the pediatrician, at night none the less, and my husband slept in Isabelle’s room to moniter her breathing (at the pediatricians suggestion, yikes! who also told us not to hestitiate to take her to the ER if her breathing got worse). Poor JB. I am sure Riley will be doing great soon. Maybe its going around in the Pacific NW.

  33. Melanie on January 10th, 2007 6:38 pm

    Don’t feel guilty!! Have fun, Riley is fine and I bet he’s loving the solid daddy-time he’s getting right now (but he’ll be psyched to see Mommy when you get back – absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?). Poor kiddo, next thing he’ll start dressing as a chimney sweep and calling you “Guvna”… I hope he gets well soon and you get to get out and enjoy SF a little bit.

  34. Melis on January 10th, 2007 7:26 pm

    Croup sucks ass. I had it numerous times as a young adult (think early 20’s) and my two year old had it twice. Nebulizers became a common thing around here. Chances are the steroids he’s on are corticosteroids but like the previous poster mentioned, he probably won’t get moonface and retain every drop of water possible. He might, however, be EXTREMELY desirous of food (salty things especially) and also very wakeful. A friend at work’s little boy was on prednisone for only a week and probably only slept a hour or two the whole time. Kid was constantly eating too, but in his case it was a good thing as he stopped being a string bean once the meds were done.

    You are NOT a terrible person. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  35. Donna on January 10th, 2007 9:38 pm

    Obviously, the sense of humor and writing skills are a family trait — any more relatives with blogs, I hope?? And THAT’S whose just-bathed parrot sent me into spasms of laughter a few days ago!

  36. AZslick on January 11th, 2007 11:28 am

    I demand that gratuity be taken out of every bill I am confronted with (in the US, not Europe). Gratuity is NOT given nor expected in the US for general housekeeping duties. And I’m a big tipper generally. Now if the person brings you an extra ice bucket or extra packages of coffee in the filters for the inroom machine, then I slip them a few dollars.

    I also oppose not being notified in advance of the gratuity charge although it sounds like you were.

    This is like being able to rent a full size car for 28.00 a day and then finding out there are 60% additional rental taxes, airport fees, concession fees and surcharge for a damn stadium. (Hello Phoenix!!)

  37. Anne Glamore on January 11th, 2007 3:19 pm

    When the twins got croup it helped to open the freezer and let them breathe in the cold air. Learn from my mistake: don’t do it in just wearing your underwear; put on an Eskimo suit first.

    Jealous of yr view!

    AG http://www.tinykingdom.typepad.com

  38. Staci on January 11th, 2007 8:53 pm

    Don’t feel bad about taking some time for yourself. Enjoy it! You deserve it… all moms do! And don’t feel bad about the croup thing either… my daughter is teething and if I were out of town right now while she is up all night long, I’d be enjoying myself.

  39. Brooke on January 12th, 2007 11:55 am

    Well, we’ve never had croup, but my daughter got pneumonia a few years back, and that’s when they discovered the asthma. Pneumonia is like malaria, once you get it, you’re susceptible. So we have to watch her every time she gets a cold, double the steroid inhaler, add the Albuterol, and monitor the temperature. Cough plus fever equals trip to the doctor. Steroids have not inhibited my daughter’s growth, I’ll tell ya. She is a 7-year-old, 72-lb, 4’4″ Amazon.

    Also, last September, when I was away at my bachelorette party, my daughter fell at school and required 5 stitches in her chin. Her wailing over the phone was so awful, that I started wailing, and my husband (daughter’s stepdad) had to take the phone back and mellow us both out. He also took my daughter to the doctor and everything, because my ex couldn’t be bothered. Which made me cry more. And then I went drinking with my friends. I’m sure I’m going to hell.

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