Confessions of a cough hating Mama

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I know I’m not the perfect Mother, I’m actually far from it. I feed my children dinner, sometimes, on the floor, right in front of the TV so they can keep watching whatever they are watching and stay quiet. I’ll even put down a tea towel to contain the mess, because I’m lazy and I don’t want to have to clean it up later. I’ll sometimes not bath them, because they are too tired and I can’t be bothered. I hide lolly bags given to them at Birthday parties and then eat them all to myself, as I hide in the pantry from them. I lie to them. Often. Because I can.

It’s like payment. For all the wiped bottoms, picking chunks of vomit out of sheets, dealing with fights every bloody time I brush or wash their hair, putting out fights every 3.4 seconds between them, picking stuff up from the car floor for the 456th time whilst driving, listening to Fairies songs and having to endure Nathan from High Five on constant DVD repeat. It’s a tough gig at times – no doubts about it.

Of course there are the amazing bits, don’t get me wrong! The beautiful offerings of artwork, or flowers presented to me throughout the day. The cuddles and pure, simple love that asks for nothing. No conditions. Just love. Although the conditions and hours can be long and tiring, and don’t get me started on the terrible pay, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But. There’s always a but isn’t there?

Of ALL the parts, the one thing that breaks my spirit , the very one thing that drives me absolutely CRAY CRAY crazy and sucks me of my parenting will to live, my kryptonite, if you will…is my child’s cough. Any one of them. Any cough – dry, chesty, tickly, and worst of all of the coughs…the dreaded cough vomit – but a cough will see me raveled undone. See? I told you I was terrible. How can something as simple as a common cough do all that? Here’s how:

I first learnt of this condition early on when Daisy caught her first proper toddler cold from daycare. Thanks Daycare! I was initially caring and loving. A veritable Florence Nightingale tending to her every need and desire at just the right moments. A wet washer to bring down a fever. A rubbing of a back. A wiping of a nose. A gentle and loving stroke of a cheek. I was a model parent! Until….she coughed. Which was fine. And then 5.2 seconds later, she coughed again. The poor poppet – seemed to have a little cough, until she coughed again. And then AGAIN. AND THEN AGAIN. It sent me crackers. After 35 minutes I may or may not have begged her to stop. After an hour of waiting for her sleep but being unable to because of said 3.4 second cough I may or may not have SCREECHED at her to “STOP COUGHING ALREADY!” And there wasn’t anything really wrong with her, just a little cough, a tickle and yet the constant stream of coughs? Well, they all made up to one frazzled Mama. Of course I felt terrible and guilty and all those things, but a constant cough will do that to an overtired working Mother. It just will.

My second born is lucky enough to be blessed with some serious gag reflexes. Some of you out there will know of the condition whereby your child will cough, and that cough will lead to a vomit. It’s the classic cough/vomit scenario. And this? Well, this undoes me even sooner than the dry 3.4 second cough that my first born delivers me with. It’s like a train wreck. You can’t stop watching, you know what’s coming, and it sends you into a spin as you try and catch that vomit in the best way you can. It’s never pretty. NEVER. And it adds another dimension to a regular cold that it just UNCALLED FOR. Enough already.

Are you like this? Tell me I’m not alone. Tell me I’m not THAT bad. Do you find coughs just as irritating? Do you have a cough vomiter in your house? I feel for you. I really do.

Now for some fun. Share with me your best “Cough Catastrophe” story in the comments below – a particularly bad cough/vomit, an irritating dry cough or a tickle that was SO not funny for a chance to win one of four $50 iTunes vouchers!

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Terms and Conditions
Giveaway open to Australian residents only Employees or family of the Promoter are not eligible to enter Entries close October 8th 2012 winners will be selected on the strength of their answers (game of skill) and no correspondence will be entered into Winners will be notified by email. Winners will be notified by email and announced on Your entries may be shared via the Baby Mac and I hate people coughing on my head Facebook pages Any entries posted by the Promoter to Facebook will be accompanied by the first name you use to post your comment.


  1. When I had my first child, my husband worked 1200kms away. I laboured for hours before he was able to leave work and drive to the hospital to see me and the baby. By that stage, I was pretty cranky at his not being at the birth of his first child etc, so he promised to jump in the care ASAP and drive 1200kms without stopping. But, he had to bring our two poodles as no one could watch them while he was away.

    Anyway, as soon as he hit the highway, one of the poodles started coughing in the back seat and then violently threw up all over the car’s gear stick.

    He had to keeping driving regardless, changing gears with his hand in the muck and in the confines of a small hatchback with two stinking dogs or face my wrath for delaying his journey. That’s my cough/vomit story.

  2. I, blessedly, do not have a cough vomiter. My SIL has a cough vomiter who also gets carsick if in the car for longer than 10 minutes. Seriously, the amount of vomit that poor woman has dealt with in her lifetime is borderline criminal.

    I do, however, have a whistler. Not of any particular tune, just random vagrant whistling. So, you know, I win.

  3. Oh do we ever have a “cough vomiter” in our household. Our 2 year old boy has that one down!

    We’ve faced head on (literally) many a cough vomit from him, leaving at least one of us showering down post the performance.
    Our peak was.. thanks to daycare… he caught a hideous stomach bug. HIDEOUS! We woke one night to the oh so familiar cough before the storm. My husband and I witnessed so much coughing & vomiting on repeat, we seriously discussed passing this one over to the ambos??

    Instead my husband raced him into Emergency, where upon sight of the situation, the seas parted from other patrons waiting to be seen and nurses literally ran to my husband, scooping cough vomit son out of husbands arms to take it from there. Thankyou dear nurses!

    The next morning he was discharged from hospital, and with him he bought back a gift for us. He passed that stomach bug round the household like nobodys business, and my husband and I, and our 3 year old daughter all got a taste of what the ‘cough vomit’ feels like EXACTLY.

  4. Test

  5. Yep I’ve got one of each. Our son coughs every 3 seconds. I have both yelled at him to stop and also just given up and gone back to bed. Our 9 month old daughter is a cough vomiter and she can projectile like there is no tomorrow. Once straight after her dinner she managed to cover the entire living room. And then 2 nights running she vomited on me at 3am whilst I was breastfeeding her. Nothing like trying to redress a grumpy baby whilst standing in the nude having stripped off your vomit covered PJs. In winter!!! And then of course trying to find yourself something else to wear in the dark.

  6. I was sitting in church (a pretty full Sunday morning service) with my husband and three children when my 2 year old climbed up on my lap for a cuddle. All of a sudden the cough vomit was happening with vomit everywhere! And no sign of stopping!! Initially I was catching it in my cardigan (which I was still wearing at the time!) when husband realized what was happening and used the baby blanket at reinforcements. The couple sitting behind us were horrified. We soon cleaned up a best as we could and got out of there. My parents who were sitting in the pew in front of us had no idea and were puzzled as to why we were suddenly leaving.

  7. Reading this made me feel so much better. I kid you not, the thing…that makes me cringe with guilt about the childhood of my now married sons, is sitting on the loo screaming like a lunatic, because the coughing was literally sending me around the twist. We had a small house with the bedrooms right next to each other and there was no where to escape from the torture.

    I think you just freed some of that stupid guilt from me with your story Beth. Don’t worry, there’s plenty left though.

  8. We don’t have a cough vomiter….thank goodness…I’m sure I couldn’t cope!

    But I do recall a very long and tortuous road trip from Sydney to Melbourne where my son was chucking up every few kilometres.

    You can imagine (or perhaps you can’t) the smell in that confined space by the time we finally reached our destination. You can only clean up so much on the side of the highway.

    I’m heaving at the memory!!!!

  9. I dont’t know if I want to relive this story by writing about it as I have tried to blocked it out, but here it goes.

    When my son was 2 and a half his sister was born, it was a beautiful time in all our lives….for about 5 weeks. Then he developed this cough. It started off as a tickle and then got worse and worse very quickly. So here was my husband and I very sleep deprived trying to get use to there being four of us instead of three and here is my son, vomiting everywhere ALL THE TIME! In shops, in front of the TV, all over his dinner, but the worst was his bed, with the sheets being changed like six times a night.

    We took him to the doctors that many times and they said it was just a little cough! Finally we got a doctor who listened. Late one night a man from a lab called us, he said he wasn’t meant to call us directly but because of our sons age he thought we might have another baby at home, which we did. He had Whopping Cough! OMG, it was such an awful, awful time.

    Although he had had all his injections the batch of the whopping cough injection had failed and a lot of people in the area had the same problem. Thanks very much!

    We all survived and he SLOWLY got better and thank God my daughter didn’t catch it.

    I am so glad my kids are older now and I can just yell at them to STOP COUGHING, without hurting their feelings….lol.

    Sue N

  10. Oh Beth! I feel we live parallel lives. I too have two little girls (and I think we went to the same primary school, with Mrs Weston as principal. I even think my younger brother went to a birthday party for your sister at your house, dressed as a girl!) Anyway… here is my cough story. Elly (3 years) has been sick with a tummy bug all week. Fevers on and off, generally unwell and miserable to boot. Sitting beside me in the early hours of the next morning, she did what we call a ‘tootie’.I looked down at her, raised my eyebrows and said, ‘What was that!?!?’
    ‘Don’t worry Mummy, that was just the fire in my bottom’ was her rather disturbing reply!
    Within about 15 minutes she was moaning about a sore tummy. Then she coughed (No!) and proceeded to throw up, all the way down the hallway, as she ran to the bathroom.
    Curiously, ‘Elly vomiting’ became the theme of all my other daughter’s drawings for the day. I too, love the beautiful artwork that is created for me each day, but could definitely do without a collage of vomit!

  11. My daughter is only 15 months old, however she has perfected the cough vomit skill with precision. It is never a cough vomit on the tiles, always the carpet. Never outside where the dog could lick it up (Parent of the year I am not).

    The lowest point was a few months back when she had croup, and would cough and vomit through her cot, out the cot, on to the carpet, and onto the wall 3 metres away. How one gets vomit that far is beyond me.

    If that wasn’t bad enough she did it numerous times in a night, where we went through 6 sets of sheets. The last two sets of “sheets” ended up being towels, as I didn’t own that many sheets. Nor did I own that many matress protectors. Needless to say the dog got a new bed not long after that incident stopped, and Eliza got a new mattress that didn’t smell like spew.

    God I can’t wait for the day she turns two so that I can give her cough mixture!

  12. I took my darling little cough- vomiter to the shopping centre for an ice-cream. Chocolate flavoured. Coming back down the escalators she started coughing, and coughing, and you can guess where this is headed…just as we got off at the bottom she cough vomited a sea of brown. The only thing I had to wipe it up with was a clean nappy from my handbag. So there I was with people pushing past me as they tried to get off the escalator, looking at me holding a nappy full of brown goo, assuming that it was something a lot worse. My own gag reflex was definitely tested that day!

  13. Back in the olden days, Coles and Woolies variety stores had long counters with a space in the middle for shop assistants to serve each counter.

    I was shopping with my mum who was holding my firstborn, a boy who threw up after every feed for months. He was by this stage about nine months old and seemed to have grown out of that habit. MUm was holding him and bent over the display of sheets. Up came every feed for the last ten feeds at least, all over the sheets. No warning at all.

    We were so embarrassed. Assistant was an older lady , a grandmother herself, who scooped everything up, gave us a clean new pillowslip to wipe the baby and assured us all was well.

    My youngest son, now in early 30s, was the last to catch whooping cough in his family. It followed one of my grandchildren home from school. That was seven months ago. Fortunately he did not usually get the cough/vomit reaction much. He is still coughing and it sounds disgusting even though it’s better than it was. Doctor told him last week that it might perhaps be gone by Christmas now it’s spring. All had had needles etc. Effect wears off in about 10-15 years, so most adults are vulnerable.

  14. Both my boys had whooping cough,my youngest when he was just a little baby.
    Anyway since then my youngest has a nighttime cough every 2 weeks or so that lasts about a week and he sleeps with me and may I tell you-it’s a nightmare!
    Every 2 hours during his coughing bouts he coughs every 2 seconds usually right in my face and I have on more than one occasion yelled out ‘Stop it!’ (amongst other things).

    I found a hint on the net though that works reeeeeally well-cover the soles of their feet with Vicks (I just use the cheapo one) and then put a pair of socks on and voila! If it doesn’t stop the cough altogether it greatly reduces the frequency.

    • I know that trick well Shannon. I don’t know if it works, but I sure as hell give it (and ANYTHING) as red hot go! I’ve also heard that a cut onion (left near their bed) works…but I haven’t done that yet.

  15. I have a 5 year old cough/vomit pro. The stories are so many that I can not choose just one but, given her extensive experience she has graduated to independant cough/vomit status.

    When she feels it coming she gets up, gets to the bathroom and holds her own hair back, in the car she has a bag stashed in the door and is happy to look after it all until it is safe to stop.

    After a big night on the vodka and watching my following illness and hangover she proudly reported that she would be great at drinking when she grows up as she is very ‘neat’ at being sick. We are so proud.

    • Oh I would be too! Harper is getting better at it too. She now runs to the toilet when she knows it’s coming. She’ll get there in the end I hope. I LOVE this!

  16. I broke a rib – coughing. Yup, it is possible. I was lying in bed, curled on my side with one of those dry hacking coughs and after a particularly big cough was in such pain. I thought I had torn some of the connective tissue, my chiro and doctor thought it was a rib, but as I was about to go on holiday and you can’t do much about it, I refused to have an x-ray.

    Fast forward a few weeks, I’m on the cruise, walking along holding a cocktail when I slip on a wet bit of deck. I do one of those amazing juggling acts and manage to not fall – but re-break my rib in the process. For the rest of the trip I was in constant pain, I remember one occasion telling my friends I just wanted to lie on the beach a bit longer because I couldn’t get up at that point.

    When I got back I had the x-ray, still expecting it to show nothing, but it clearly showed my broken rib that had clearly started to heal then been re-broken. Doh! I laugh about it now but it was hideous at the time.

  17. Yes, I too have a cough vomiter. My almost 4 year old has such sensitive gag reflexes that it really doesn’t take much to make him vomit. I dread colds and coughs for that very reason that then I have to deal with VOMIT on top of snotty noses and grumpiness.

    So my worst cough/vomit story?

    It was following a Christmas holiday at my in-laws. We were on our way home, my husband driving in front of me, me following behind. 3 year old and 9 month old in the car. Dusk. All going well and then that cough. And then that vomit. All over himself, the car seat. I panic and pull off the road, down a dirt track, as my husband, oblivious, keeps driving on. I get my son out of the car in the ever decreasing light, stripping him of his vomit sodden clothes and shoes; poor kid is shivering (yes it may have been Summer, but it was cold!) and standing in bare feet on the ground, possibly in his own vomit that has dripped to the ground off his clothes.

    Me internally cursing my husband for NOT looking in his rear view mirror and realising that we have a situation here, people, and that I have no clean clothes to put on my cold, shivering son and now my 9 month old has started squawking because the car has stopped and she’s woken up. Plus I was parked slap bang in the middle of this dirt road so was IN THE WAY of cars. So there I am with a near naked, slightly vomit stained crying child , and another one in the car howling, and me apologising to cars trying to pass me as I clean up the mess.


  18. My coughing terror story if fresh from this morning.

    My 4 year old woke at 5.10am coughing and coughing it sounded like a potential cough vomit so bless my husband he got up and sorted him out.
    I managed to stay in bed until 6am when the coughing was too annoying for me to bear any longer.

    Now my son really needs 12 hours sleep or he can be beyond feral. So on less than enough sleep we went to the park and my son annoyed everyone.
    I packed us up and said we were going. Sooooooo muuuccchhhh screaming and screaming. He screamed ALL the way home on his bike (1.6km). I sent him straight to his room so I could cool off and lower my blood pressure……
    He passed for a lovely hours sleep on the hallway floor outside his bedroom.
    Rotten early morning cough.

    • Mine is fresh too…Daisy has come down with a cough and cold as punishment for me writing about it today! I didn’t get a daytime sleep though. Here’s to a better night/morning tomorrow!

  19. Love this post Beth. I couldn’t agree more. I can handle any of my kids’ illnesses. Except for the dreaded constant, friggin tear-your-hair-out cough. I’ve said the same thing for years too. Amy x

  20. Coughing doesn’t bother Me.

    It’s the Conjunctivitis that really hurts my heart.

  21. Beth, I feel your pain. My curtains are still stained with the splashes of my first born who used to start coughing when put to bed as a baby and this always resulted in projectile vomits. We used to bolt down the hallway at the first sound of a cough.

    But, the paediatric pharmacist in me has to inform you and all your readers that as of August all cough & cold medicines in Australia should not be given to children under 6 years of age. This was increased from the previously recommended 2 years due to lack of evidence to support their benefit and evidence to suggest they may actually be harmful to children under 6 years.

  22. Thank god I am not the only cough hating mama!! It drives me mad. Harry last night coughed for an hour, the dry cough suppressant did bugger all so out came the Pain Stop. 5 mins later he was sound asleep and ended up being late for childcare as the medicine hadn’t worn off! Michelle

  23. Coughs scare the living daylights out of me and yet with that knowledge I’ve still been heard to shout “Jesus Jamie give it a rest”, that’s if its coming from the left handside bedroom, if its coming from the right, then I have the bucket, mop, clean sheets and strong coffee on hand – because he’s a follow through, and as tough as cleaning up vomit is its easier than the scary cough. Scary coughs nine times out of ten leads to long stays in hospital and usually adds to my grey hair collection. I have a daughter that goes from healthy to pneumonia and collapsed lungs without all the usual symptoms and as quickly as healthy today to ill in half an hour. I hate Winter with a passion thanks to this. So your not alone the cough is a shit!

  24. I have the cough vomitor and the constant asthma coughers but right now I am a 37 year old mother of two with pneumonia and influenza and I have become the cough wee’er…. Yep pissing my fucking pants!!!! I win!!!! Omg it’s not good not good at all! Leonie

  25. Yes, another cough-hating mother here also. I am known to avoid supermarket aisles entirely If I can identify a nasty cough coming through the shelves. I’ll hold my breath if some inconsiderate person coughs near me and if I’m unlucky enough to be standing in some Medicare/bank/post office queue and there is a cougher behind me I’ll shallow breathe, through my mouth until I can get the hell out of there!!

    I’m not really sure when my pure hate for another persons coughing developed but since having kids I have been faced with other (small) people’s coughs on a much more personal level. We have just recently all been ill and the nasty dry tickly cough hung around for quite a while. I was heard on many occasions yelling “will you just stop coughing, do you really need to cough so hard or are you doing it so I’ll think you’re more sick than I really think you are” Yes, delightful, I know.

    But probably my worst moment was earlier this year when my 8yo son developed an annoying coughing habit well after the cold was gone. I eventually took him to the Dr where to my dismay after a blood test discovered that the poor darling had Pertussis (whooping cough). Yes also known as the 100 DAY COUGH I was told!!!! He was vaccinated and still got it, a mild dose thankfully 🙂

  26. I have a cough vomiter so I really appreciate this being written. Ever since he was a baby, any mucus will make him cough and vomit. It makes cold and flu season unbearable. Its great to know that I’m not alone!

  27. Karlie Scuderi says

    Omg, thank you! I needed to read this… exactly. Right. Now! My 3 year old LOVES to cough and it drives me up a wall. At first I’m loving and try to help- but then I’m like, okay please stop, that’s enough etc. i swear he’s had this most recent cough for about a month. I took him to the doctor a few weeks ago and he said his lungs sound fine, it just needs to run his course. Today he was coughing so much he vomitted on the playground. He took a nap and I gave him medicine, we went to a birthday party (mind you, he’s not contagious – just a dry lingering cough he loves to milk) and then we met my aunt, uncle and parents out to dinner. My parents kept talking about the said cough, which made him cough more, and at the ne or dinner he PUKED AlLL over my dad and the floor (in front of a another poor table). UGH my patience is being tested, I didn’t say much to him, just tried to grab napkins and shield other dining guests from his regurgitated dinner. It. Was. The. Worst. I also have an almost 2 year old I was trying to juggle AND I’m 36 weeks pregnant- my husband was at work so I was essentially alone during this mortifying moment 😭

  28. i found this post because i googled ‘kids cough driving me crazy’. Thank you for making me feel less terrible.

  29. MommyIsGoingCrazy says

    I know that this is an old post, but I am so glad that it is up! My 10 year old is currently coughing and I could not be more irritated. I’ve begged both of my kids over the last few days to “just stop coughing!” Every time I hear a new round of coughing I go just a little more crazy. It does not help that my son vomits after top much coughing. Poor child has the worst gag reflex (thank you husband). I feel a little better knowing that I am certainly not alone in this.

  30. Blahblahblah says

    It’s winter here down under and my daughter’s been coughing in and out for weeks but seems likes centuries actually. She started coughing again just before swim class and cried at the middle of it because she couldn’t do what her teacher told them to practice on. All happening while she was coughing every min! And then comes the fantastic changing/shower room where all eyes are on you because you’re child won’t stop coughing. Wish I could just leave a note on my forehead that it’s not Covid so they can f*** off. Give me a break people!

    • Why do people do that?! It’s as if they expect you to either wave a magic wand to stop the coughing or stay in the house until they are no longer sick, because that’s so realistic. You ladies on this post have no idea how much better you’ve made me feel about this.

  31. So so grateful for this post. Thought I was bitch mum from hell on acid, but seems I’m just a bog standard mum who can’t bear five year old’s cough. He used to get fucking croup which was horrific for him and us, but I am dreading the onset of winter as usual – like the rest of us on here!

  32. Thanks for this post. It made me feel human. It’s hard being a mom and I never get my 5 year old daughter to bed on time. I finally get her in bed by 8 and she begins coughing. I put Vicks on her chest hoping that’ll stop the cough. Oh no it keeps getting worse. She coughs and spits first, then eventually the Top Ramen noodles I gave her for dinner, because I was too tired to cook, was all over the towel she already had as well as the freshly cleaned comforter I had just put on the bed because the night before she had a peeing accident lol. I went to the hallway and kicked and screamed and said gosh darn it, freakers and any other euphemism so that my daughter didn’t think I was cursing her out. She still didn’t end up going to bed tonight till 10pm because of all the coughing and vomiting and I guess I can kiss my 8 hours of sleep goodbye as well. Raise your glass to parenthood!

  33. I’m so glad I decided to google this because I knew I wasn’t alone. My 4 year old is in the middle of one of his coughing fits and I am so annoyed. It’s 7 am on a Saturday, one of my only off days, and I’m up listening to a child cough constantly and ask for Gushers … I feel like they’re always at the worst time and of course he doesn’t always cover his mouth so I don’t like taking him anywhere when he’s sick because he purposefully waits until we’re in public to hack as hard as he can, mouth uncovered. No medicine works and I’m at my wits end. I want to scream. I also hate the sound of people smacking or constant tapping so clearly it’s a neurological thing 😂😭 I feel so bad for being annoyed. We were supposed to go to the park today, but now I’m irritated and don’t want to. This thread made me feel so much better so thank you to the original poster.

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