It should’ve been like any ordinary evening, except it was already different for us, as we were attending soccer games instead of soccer practices, to make up for the four solid days of rain we experienced last week, causing all commencement of soccer games to come to a screeching halt.
We were already out of breath trying to fetch the last of this something-something-here, and get everything stuffed into the car over there, buzzing about the house, keeping our eyes on the time, eyes on the kids, arms filled with stuff.
Breathe. Just breathe.
Upon parking and filling our double-stroller up to the hilt in snacks, drinks, chairs, cameras, baby toys, soccer balls and other such necessities, my infant happily slumped over to one the side of the stroller, teething on the rail, watching the ground go by, fastly whirring by his baby eyes as we wheeled him away towards his sister’s game. We heard him oohing and cooing at the gravel, then grass, then pavement, then clay. He especially liked the clay diamond right near the field where my daughter was set to play soccer. Bright indeed.
It is always difficult getting the stroller to the far end where the kids play. Wrangling that stroller, and chairs, and navigating it over bumps, and through sand and gravel and holey ground.
We had just settled in, preparing the foldable chairs, setting out drinks and snacks, fixing my daughter’s hair to ensure it’s completely up, getting the kids situated and ready for game time. Some of my children were nibbling on the chicken nuggets we made at home and brought with us. I was chatting with a couple in one direction when my 9-year-old calls out to me from behind me.
“He can’t breathe, mommy. I think he’s choking.”
I snap my head around like a snake. Before I could even begin to imagine just what it could be, or how, I see my infant is blue, and gasping. No noise was made. There I had stood, preparing for my daughter’s game, and meanwhile my infant was blue and I had no idea. A million thoughts raced through my mind as I immediately lunged to pick up his head to get him into my arms to figure out why he wasn’t breathing. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t free him. He was stuck. And he was gasping. And I couldn’t free him from where I stood. I panicked.
“OH MY GOD. PLEASE HELP! SOMEBODY!” I was able to muster as I spun around the other side of the stroller, running as quickly as I could, even though it seemed like I was crawling.
He isn’t breathing is all I kept thinking.
His head was slumped over, stuck somehow, and his neck was pressed against the side, and so he was choking because it was against his windpipe. He isn’t breathing. I couldn’t free him from the one direction, and so in running around the other side, I had a different grasp on him to wriggle him about, trying to free him from that side, too. He isn’t breathing. He just wasn’t budging. It felt like an eternity but it was merely seconds. Dear God what was happening? He isn’t breathing. Why was he stuck?
My baby isn’t breathing!!!
Men appeared instantly, fathers of other soccer children, responding, knowing something was wrong as they saw me feverishly attending to my child. One man reached in, and it was a blur, his hands approaching, and then he was free. I don’t know how, but he was free!
And then he gasped. He was breathing.
I exhaled finally.
And then he cried.
And as overwhelmed as I was, at seeing my son blue, I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t do anything but sit completely shell-shocked, panicking still while I inspected him, looking into his eyes to ensure he was okay, and that he was breathing. Was he ok? Is he alright? Looking at his neck to ensure I hadn’t hurt him by wriggling it.
He was breathing.
I was besides myself, clutching my baby as he nestled against me, as he wiggled about in my arms, alive and breathing. I pressed him harder. Every breath he took I drank it in. Every breath. He was breathing. My baby was breathing again.
The men were angels, they kept cheering me on, “He’s okay, Lisa. He’s okay, good work momma.”
I didn’t feel too great about it. I couldn’t believe I sat there a mere couple inches from my son and had absolutely no idea he was in distress and wasn’t breathing.
And I was breathing semi-normal again.
We discussed it, other soccer parents and I, after I was able to regain the ability to form coherent thoughts and words out of my mouth, that they thought he’d gotten his head stuck in between the side rail and the rail of the visor, that he had his neck stuck out just enough, and he pulled the visor or it was moved down over top, pinning him. I don’t even recall seeing the visor over him, or out that much at all, but it would explain why he was stuck. Why he wasn’t breathing.
So, if nothing else, if you own a stroller that has a visor, and you have a baby with a wobbly head that likes to peek out the side of the stroller, take my warning, and learn from our mistake – they can pin themselves. And choke. And not breathe.
It still has me spinning. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d call out, cheering on my daughter “Go baby! Get the ball!” and then clutch my son tighter because oh my God I almost lost him.
One of my daughter’s teammates would shoot the ball, and miss, and I’d call out “Nice try, good job!” and say to myself my son’s alive, he’s breathing again.
I have to wonder if I was really there for that game. At all. I just kept looking at this stroller, wondering if I could ever put him in the back again. If I could trust not watching him every second of every minute of every day.
It isn’t like they can call out to you “Hey, mom, I’m choking, can you help me?” There is no sound. None. At all. And it is scary.
I’ve taken CPR courses having done daycare in the past. Yet, when it’s your own child, you react, but there’s a panic there that isn’t there on a Red Cross dummy, or on a live-bodied class partner pretending to be unconscious.
This is your child, and you could lose him or her. You need to act, mom. Now. And if you don’t do the right thing, there is no do-over. There is no second chance. Boy did that ever stare me in the face tonight.
My children have never choked before, not to the point of needing the Heimlich or anything. This was new territory. I’d never even seen any of my children turn blue before, not even holding their breath to beat out their siblings in the Who Can Hold Their Breath the Longest Game.
Even now, he’s resting comfortably, I nursed him longer tonight, held him even closer, snuggled him extra-tight. I keep peeking, and poking, and holding my hand in front of his nose. To ensure he’s still breathing.
I’m so afraid now. How fast that happened. How unexpected it was. How life really is unexpected, and uncontrollable, no matter how much you micromanage and plan and choreograph, life will have it’s way with you, whenever and however it wants, whether you’re prepared or not.
Are you prepared for something like this? Can anyone really be?
I’m the mom with the bandaids for my bandaids in my purse. Who literally carries a suitcase filled with the just-in-case items everywhere I go. And I gotta tell ya, I had nothing in my bag of tricks for this.
So, I will take the CPR and First Aid refresher. And I will take all necessary precautions, to ensure the kids know what to do and who to call, and ensure my stockpile of bandaids and cleaners and other such aid items are at-the-ready.
And in between my preparations for the worst, you’ll find me nestling my kids into me a bit tighter. Perhaps having that much more of an eagle eye on their actions, much moreso than normal, that is, if they’re able to escape from my sight.
And taking time to breathe. Really breathe. Oh yes, there will be lots and lots of breathing.
Never miss a post! Subscribe here for all kinds of crazy parenting fun!