Knowing what to do in a crisis is something that you hope you never have to know how to do. Yes of course it’s crucial to be prepared but it’s like one of those things in high school that you learn but unless you encounter a situation where you’ll need it, it’s likely to slip right back out of your brain….like algebra.
As a mom I was most concerned about safety protocol when my children were infants and young toddlers because all of the new things they are learn at a rapid face can turn into dangerous situations for them super fast…..but then as time wears on a natural complacency sets in as they get older and a bit more independant. For me, this was exactly when a terrifying reality check shook us right up.
Like any ordinary week day trying to get out the door with two kids it can be a harried, stressful and often frustrating time. Constant reminders to ‘get your boots on’ ‘get your back pack’, ‘did you brush your teeth?’ are on repeat and the blood pressure inevitably climbs.
The last minute - here are you gummy vitamins and ‘let’s go, let’s go, hurry up’ and we are out the door. With my daughter on the bus it was down to me and my little guy to head off to daycare.
After getting him safely buckled into his car seat I got myself buckled in and prepared to pull out of my driveway. As I began reversing I turned my head back to see behind the car and that’s when I saw my 3 ½ year of flailing his arms and legs with no sign of being able to breath and a stunned, terrified look in his eyes. I whipped the car back into the driveway, had to unbuckle myself, get out of the car, run around the car, open his door, unbuckle his 5 point harness and pull him out. I began banging on him. Then banging harder, then tipping him over, then violently jerking him almost upside down and finally performing the heimlich maneuver until finally after what must have been 25 agonizing seconds, this slimy little gummy vitamin slid out of his mouth and plopped onto our driveway.
Words cannot express the panic in both of our faces and I hugged him so tightly and was shaking so bad he was vibrating.
I remember talking to myself as I was running around the car, telling myself to stay calm so that I could get him out of that seat without making the situation more dire. I remember going back into the house and practically collapsing in the kitchen as the reality of what had just happened sank in. Luckily, he was fine. Shaken up for sure but breathing, and talking.
This was a jolt back into the reality that although our kids are getting a bit older, they’re talking, fighting, walking, running and putting on their own clothes - they are still so vulnerable to something as innocuous as a vitamin.
So things have changed. It was a wake up call I never wanted to get but clearly needed to. What I learned about this choking thing is it’s extra scary because it’s very silent. There’s no screaming from a scraped knee or a fall. You have to see it with your own eyes to know it’s even happening. From now on, our kids can’t leave our presence until they chew the vitamin as soon as it goes in their mouth and then swallow. Same goes for any small slippery things that they can choke on. I hope our scary experience is a good reminder for you moms out there with young kids too before you have a scary wake up call like I did, or god forbid - worse.