I have always wondered how I would respond in an emergency situation with my child. It's not something I like to dwell on, my child's life being in danger, but I have wondered what it would be like and what I would do. When things happen to other people, my first instinct has always been respond! Whether I know what to do or not. But yesterday, as I held my son's seemingly lifeless body in my arms, I froze.
We were at a my friend Abigail's house, and Aiden and her son Oliver were playing as we talked and she watched another friend's four-month-old son. The boys were running around playing with cars, trains, vacuums, basically anything with wheels and having a blast. They made their way to Abigail's bedroom as they always do and after a quick game of pretend nap they began their bouncing game. Bouncing on the bed doesn't bother me too much, as long as they don't get too rough and I am there to monitor I have no problem with it. My biggest fear with it is that one might fall off and hit his head, so I always stand guard to make sure that doesn't happen. Well that day they were being exceptionally civil. Normally bouncing leads to wrestling or unintentionally smothering each other with pillows, but they seemed quite happy to simply bounce in their own spaces. When Aiden's face came down and hit Oliver on the top of the head as he was coming up, it really didn't look very hard. But then Aiden's face turned red and he started to cry a silent cry and I knew he was hurting pretty bad as he rarely gives a silent cry if he even sheds tears at all. I pulled him into my arms to comfort him, and when he still didn't make a sound I began encouraging him to breathe, telling him it was ok. I suddenly realized, he wasn't breathing because he couldn't. Panic clinched my chest as I watched his eyes widen, his pupils shrink, and his lips begin to turn purple. "He's not breathing!" I screamed at Abigail. "I don't know what to do!" She ran to search for her phone. I didn't know what to do, a million thoughts entered my head, but all I could do was repeat, "I don't know what to do! I don't know what to do!" over and over again. I am CPR certified, but the steps were all jumbled in my head, and what was I supposed to do when he was conscious, unable to breath, but not choking? His arms began to reach out in a way I have never seen, like he was grasping for something with closed and twisted fists. Then I watched in desperation as his eye lids slowly closed and all life seemed to leave his body. I screamed for Abigail who still could not find her phone, and ran into the dining room carrying my unconscious son, not really knowing where I was headed, just that something had to be done and quick! At this point I was too much in shock to sit still and really check his breathing. His chest did not appear to be moving and his lips were still purple, so I assumed he was still unable to breathe. When Abigail finally got 911 on the phone they told us that the closest emergency vehicle was 30 minutes away and that they could not give us any medical advice. "Get in the car, we have to drive!" Abigail yelled at me as she made her way there, still on the phone with 911. The closest hospital is 30 minutes away, even if I was performing CPR while she drove, I knew Aiden's chances of making it without oxygen were not likely. The fire department was right down the street, so my immediate goal was to get there as soon as possible. As I headed toward the car I looked back to see poor Oliver, obviously traumatized by the commotion standing in the doorway of the house, not moving. "OLIVER! COME NOW!" I screamed at him. Every second that went by was a clock ticking my son's life away. Just then I felt Aiden move, and I looked down and his eyes were wide open and he was breathing! He was confused, his nose began to bleed, and he started to cry, but I cannot describe to you the relief that ran through my body to see him awake and breathing. I collapsed on the ground, unable to stand, cry, or do anything but examine my little boy and try to reassure him that everything was ok, while trying to make sure everything was ok. Abigail called her doctor who told us to take him to the ER. Luckily, Aaron was right down the road so he came and picked us up right away.
At this point Aiden was mostly acting normal, but I was still pretty freaked out. Thoughts like, "Why am I not a nurse already?" and "I need to be more prepared!" ran through my head. I never wanted to feel so helpless again. I kept watching him for any signs of a concussion or anything that would have caused him to stop breathing or might cause it again. As we approached the highway Aaron slammed on his breaks to avoid hitting some idiot that was turning around in the middle of the on ramp, only for us to see that all the traffic ahead was at a complete stand still. Side roads would take us an extra 15 minutes to get to the hospital and we could see that whatever had stopped traffic was not far ahead, so we opted for the emergency lane. Unfortunately, so did about 30 other cars. We crept for about 100 yards, what felt like a life time, before reaching a power line that had come down across the highway. With no fear of cops (as they were all on the other side of the highway headed for the power lines) we pushed our little Isuzu to its very limits and made a mad dash for Mission Hospital. The whole drive Aiden and I talked about the cows we had seen that morning. Aiden expressed his sincere desire to go back and feed the cows grass from his hand, explaining to me that we would just open the fence so we could get close enough to the cows who usually keep their distance from the road. All the while thoughts of how Aiden was never going to do anything outside of a bubble circulated my mind. I could never lose him.
By the time we got to the ER, checked Aiden in, and sat in the waiting room, I was feeling more confident that Aiden was going to be just fine. Thinking through all the details, I started to wonder if he had simply passed out because he was crying too hard to breathe. It came to me that he hadn't even gasped for air when he woke and he had been out for at least a minute if not two. He said his nose hurt, but didn't show any signs of a concussion and seemed to remember quite clearly that he had bonked his nose on Oliver's head. Saying, "Oliber's head hurt nose mommy... ouchy!" He was alert and even quite happy. We were feeling relieved to say the least. Our fears were completely set to rest when we finally saw a doctor and he told us that it was actually quite common in kids Aiden's age to pass out from crying too hard and Aiden was perfectly fine. Aiden was pretty excited to learn his action filled night would end with chicken nuggets, chocolate milk, and a race car. Aaron and I had to keep ourselves from completely smothering him with all the hugs and kisses we were showering him with and I had keep stopping myself from crying.
Long after I kissed Aiden good night for the millionth time, details from the afternoon kept racing through my head. Aaron held me as we allowed ourselves to process all that happened and thank God over and over that our little boy was alive and well. Today is back to life as we know it and I am relieved to say that I have not become the psychotic mom with her son in a bubble as I thought I might. Even though he was not close to death as I imagined during the chaos of those moments, the reality and heart-stabbing fear that I could actually lose him has never been so real. Or so terrifying.