First Scare

Saturday night we were beginning our bedtime routine. Andy was changing Emmett and I was getting Malcolm set up. He was laying on a boppy waiting for eating time.

I happened to be standing in front of the couch and saw him spit up clear drool. He does that pretty often. But this time something went wrong.

It must have pooled and blocked the back of his throat. Right away I could see that he hadn’t been able to catch his breath. And in fact, he was not breathing. At all. He was choking.

I scooped him up immediately. His eyes were big and wild and his head was thrashing around, as his body fought for air.

I held him out in front of me, feeling completely helpless and clueless. I knew that there wasn’t an object blocking his airway, it was liquid. The only thing flitting through my mind was sucking it out of his mouth with my mouth, but that made no sense. I had no idea what to do, and I just stared at him as he continued panicking. I had to say to Andy several times, He’s not breathing. He’s choking. He is not breathing.

I continued feeling helpless and tried not to think about the awful way this could turn out. I didn’t know what to do.

He finally caught his breath. He breathed. He was okay.

I finally brought him to me and held him in a long hug. He gave a quick little cry, but didn’t really fuss about it, and a minute later seemed like his normal self.

Thank god.

All of this, this whole episode, must have only lasted maybe ten seconds. It was quick and surreal and scary and so damn fast. Such terrible things can happen so fast.

I tried not to think about what would have happened had I not been standing right there. I frequently leave them on their boppy to go do whatever (get their bottles ready, go to the bathroom). I mean, I can’t carry two babies every single place I go or every single time I leave the room. This whole episode was silent, so if I hadn’t been there, Andy wouldn’t have even known anything was happening, and he was five feet away but out of view. I told myself that I didn’t need to worry about leaving the babies alone for eight hours in a few minutes. I felt better about our laziness–they’re still sleeping in their Rock n Plays, where they lay at an incline and this kind of spit-up choking isn’t a hazard, unlike lying flat in a crib.

I know that much scarier things happen to babies all the time. (When I told my mom, she told me again about the time I randomly stopped breathing and the time I had a seizure.)  Babies get mysterious high fevers and go to the ER, or end up with horrible infections or long-lasting illnesses. This was a tiny blip compared to that. This episode at least had a clear cause and solution. But still, geez, those few moments watching my baby choke…terrible.

I swear I’m not a worrier. This event rattled me and scared me and made me cry a little and hug my babies longer. But I wasn’t about to sit up with them all night watching them sleep to make sure they were ok. If I start genuinely worrying about something like this, then I’m sure it would only spiral and I would go crazy. There are so many things that can go wrong! And with two babies…there are twice as many hazards and fears, It’s too awful to think about, so I just try not to think about it. Is that naive and childish? Sure. But whatever keeps me sane and keeps me going, right?

Anyway, the fright has faded now, we’ve moved on. My babies are safe. I am so relieved that our first scare had a happy ending.

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6 thoughts on “First Scare

  1. Hey Julie,
    Sorry you went through this scare but everything for a reason, yes? Maybe just to keep us on our toes as parents and ward off complacency. Molly told me when we were expecting Lochlan that having a child (or two) is like walking around with your heart outside your body and that vulnerability does not seem to disapate with time, (driving is coming soon and I can already feel anxious about that). Point being, for what it is worth, I think you and Andy are FANTASTIC parents with logical and balanced prospectives and Emmett and Malcolm will read these posts many years from now knowing how loved they are and have been.
    Love from my lot to yours,
    Crispin
    ps. keep the posts coming please.

  2. If you’re worried about them laying flat in their cribs, we use bed risers or books to prop one end up. Our son (born Nov. 20th) has reflux and would wake up choking, noisy choking and gasping as opposed to silent choking which is ever scarier. It seems to be working well for him.

    Glad everyone is ok!

    • Thanks! Wow, your baby is only one day younger than ours! We haven’t put ours in cribs yet, but that’s a good tip about bed risers. We’re trying to put them in their co-sleeper for naps downstairs and it’s going okay–hopefully they’re getting used to sleeping flat.

    • Yes, the hospitals around here offer them. We just didn’t get around to taking one before they were born, so we need to get on that.

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