This is a copy from my private family blog, but I thought I’d share it with everyone, because I think every parent needs to know how quiet choking really is, and how quickly it can happen. I may have just been ignorant about it, but I never realized those two things. I wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving. We truly have a lot to be thankful for this year!
Thursday night as I sat in the bedroom, looking at the computer screen just as I’m often found doing these days, my baby was in the living room watching Sprout (her favorite channel) and eating a tootsie roll, among other things she had chosen from our dessert drawer in the kitchen. It was a normal evening. We had eaten dinner together as a family and Laynie was enjoying her “zert” (dessert) – some leftover Halloween candy, and some TV time before bed. Chris was at a Bible study with the men in our Sunday School class.
I heard Laynie give a couple of quiet coughs and knew she must have choked up on her snack. I don’t know about most kids, but Laynie kinda gets choked up a lot, and I usually smack her gingerly on the back a couple of times knowing it’s not really necessary but encouraging her to cough all the same. I listened, and heard nothing more. I honestly didn’t think much about it in that moment, and assumed she was just fine, having coughed and now she was back to watching her TV show. But when I heard her running into the kitchen and the garbage can lid being opened, I got concerned and so I went to check on her.
As I entered the kitchen, Laynie was leaning over the garbage can. I guess she thought she was going to throw up. I asked her if she was ok. To my horror, she turned around to look at me, and I saw that her mouth, chin and nose were blue. Her big brown eyes were teary and red, and I knew she was in big trouble.
The next moments seemed to last forever, but I know they lasted only a couple of minutes. I grabbed her and began striking her repeatedly on her back. Nothing. No noises, no coughing, no crying, no gasping… I leaned her over my knee and hit her even harder. Still nothing. In my head I was thinking how quiet she was, and how all I wanted was for her to cry, or grunt, or something. Time was passing, and she was hurting, and I knew what I was doing wasn’t helping. Then it hit me, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to do the heimlich on her!” (I really don’t know why it hadn’t dawned on me yet, geez. I’ve been trained afterall.) So I began thrusting under her ribcage, in that area where they teach you in the first aid classes where the diaphragm is. I tried, and tried. At least 20 times I tried. Her feet were coming off the floor, but nothing was happening.
“Oh, God! Please help me!” I cried out in desperation. In my mind I knew that I didn’t have time to call 911 and wait for someone to get there. If it didn’t come out soon, she would pass out. And honestly, I was so afraid I wouldn’t be able to remember the steps for what to do if that happened because I was so panicked. Immediately after my plea to God, the next thrust seemed to dislodge the tootsie roll and she began to cough and gasp for air while throwing up the rest of her food she had eaten earlier. I knew she was finished and that she would be okay when she began screaming.
The screaming turned into crying as I huddled next to her in the kitchen floor, both of us shaking, sweating, and clinging to each other in thanksgiving.
After calling the pediatric nurse line for advice, I called Chris to tell him what had happened and he came home to go with us to the hospital. A chest x-ray was taken that showed nothing to worry about. We got back at 12:30 am, and Laynie slept beside me in the bed. Her peaceful deep breaths while she was sleeping was such a wonderful thing to hear.
Laynie’s remarkably unphased by it all. Thank goodness. She’s a strong kid, and handles things in stride. I’m so proud of her.
I’m so grateful that God has blessed me with this precious gift, this little girl that I am amazed and privileged that He has allowed me to be her mother, to love her, teach her, and raise her. I know that my time with her could be over at any moment. Thanks be to God that He saw fit to help me in my desperate time of need. I’m so thankful that Thursday wasn’t her time to go, and we get to enjoy our time together for a little longer. God is so faithful to provide His peace when things like this happen. Even though replays of the event keep going over and over in my mind, and I’m definitely a little paranoid with candy and gum with her now, there is still a sense of peace about it. What if’s, Why’s, and all that are still there, but I know that God was with us, and He is the source of strength, peace, and thanksgiving.