A few days ago, late in the afternoon on Friday, I was feeding the kids an early dinner since we were having a babysitter over. While I was in the kitchen, 16 month old Ari started choking while he was in his high chair. At first this didn’t alarm me, but I glanced over at him to make sure he would be OK.
However, I quickly realized that the piece of Z Bar he had stuffed into his mouth must have been bigger than I originally thought. He was clearly in trouble and couldn’t cough the piece out. In fact he could barely even get a cough out.
I scooped him out of the high chair as fast as I could and immediately started doing some back blows to try and dislodge the food. It didn’t seem to help at all. I also attempted to do a quick finger sweep to see if I could help him get the food out. Then I went back to the back blows. Nothing seemed to be working, though.
His coughs were weak, his face was turning bright red and he couldn’t cry. I was terrified inside and I felt helpless. In my head I was also berating myself - why hadn’t I paid more attention in the first aid classes I had taken? And why hadn’t I taken a refresher course more recently?
I was becoming anxious and was starting to panic a bit as my mind began thinking of all the worst case scenarios. I thought of calling 911, but at first I didn’t know if the situation warranted it. However, when I realized that my baby’s life was definitely in danger, I picked up the phone.
One of the first things they asked me for was my address. We are still relatively new to our home, but thankfully the information rolled off my tongue. The lady could hear Ari struggling, and she could clearly hear the anxiety in my voice. She immediately dispatched aid.
Long story short, about a minute before the ambulance arrived, Ari was finally able to get everything out. Slobbery, baked granola bar was smeared all over him, all over me and was all over the floor. But none of that mattered because my precious little one was breathing.
I felt a bit sheepish when I answered the door and 4 paramedics were on my front porch. They came inside to fully assess the situation and make sure Ari’s airway was completely open. I apologized for calling them out, but they were quick to assure me that I had done exactly the right thing. That helped because for a little while there, before I had dialed 911, I really thought I was going to lose my baby. It was that bad and that scary.
My babysitter tip/reminder, though, for parents and caregivers is to make sure you leave your address with the one watching your kids. I always leave a little instruction sheet and our cell phone numbers with our sitters, but only sometimes do I remember to leave our address written down.
Not anymore, though. Now I will always leave it. It is such a simple thing to do, it takes 10 seconds, but it could end up saving a life. A life of one you love dearly. I know emergency personnel can trace calls, but sometimes those extra seconds are the difference between life and death.
So go hug your precious little ones and be grateful they are breathing! And be grateful for all the first responders out there who are always there to help us!