All of my kids at some point when they were babies had croup. Each time it was awful. Each of them made a trip to the emergency room at Children's Hospital for it. Each time we were told there really was nothing they could do. But when your baby struggles with each breath and won't stop crying and coughing it's nightmarish and you just want help.
The thing about those times I remember best was the drive to the hospital with the baby rear facing in the backseat, always in the dark, out of reach. And I couldn't tell what was worse: Hearing each tortured inhale, or the silence in between breaths. Each strangled breath was bad, but wondering if something worse had befallen my baby to cause the silence was equally bad. Times like that when your imagination is spinning out of control and your instincts are hyperactive make for a very long drive (even when it's only 10.7 miles).
We are far from the baby stage now. Those parenting challenges are hard, and some things do get easier as your kids grow, but somethings don't.
When your children are old enough to have their own lives away from you, monitoring what they do and how they do it is almost a losing battle sometimes. You have to trust that you taught them enough early on to make choices without your direct guidance. But some things no one can control, not you or your child. And then you just try to deal as best you can.
There are days lately where I feel exactly as I did during those drives with a baby with croup. I watch, I hold my breath as I listen for clues, I run in circles in my mind about what I should do, what I might do differently, how I can be the right parent for my child at this time.
But sometimes there's nothing you can do.