My baby is laying next to me, and her breathing sounds funny. It’s clear she’s working harder than usual to breathe. I’m halfway to the kitchen to get the medicine for a breathing treatment before I remember we don’t have that stuff for Annabel. I’m fumbling in the dark for the oxygen tube before I remember it’s gone.

She has a cold, a bad one, and at 10:45 am (11 hours from now) we’re going to the doctor. But is that waiting too long? Madeline got sick on a Sunday night and I waited until her pediatrician’s office opened the next morning. Should I take Annabel to the ER? Should I have taken Madeline that night?

How do I know what to do? My instincts are telling me to snatch her and RUN to the hospital. My logical brain is screaming that this is different and she’s OK. My heart is pounding and my chest is tight and I am terrified that all my decisions are wrong and everything is my fault.

Maddie didn’t seem any worse than a bad cold that night. Annie doesn’t seem any worse than a bad cold tonight. Maddie didn’t have a fever, neither does Annie.

There are so many obvious differences and yet I can only focus on the similarities.

They look the same when they cry. They have the same cough. Their voices both get scratchy with sickness. They both whimper in their sleep.

With both of them, I lay awake, staring at them, counting breaths, replaying moments, wondering if my decisions are ones I can live with.