Tonight was scary. After all my cutting and dicing of Garrett's food...giving him one bite at a time...not letting him eat outside of his high chair...it happened. Really, every parent's worst nightmare. How the heck long have I been a parent anyway? Was I born in a barn? Who the heck doesn't take a CPR class when they have THREE kids? Not a dog, not one kid, not even two, but three kids. I am a jerk. Really, a royal jerk. How could I not have taken a CPR/First Aid class? I went to the Enrichment where we learned to knit. I went to the one where we learned about canning food. I went to the scrapbooking, and the yoga, and the healthy eating one. But the CPR/First Aid one...the one where I could actually use something to save some one's life...that one I did not attend. Actually I don't ever remember it being offered. But that's no excuse.
Is all knowledge related to rearing children dependant upon it being spoon fed to me? I could have taken a class at the hospital or with Community Ed. I could have asked one of my twenty friends who are nurses to give me the basics. But no. I had one boy survive the choking years. And my girl squeaked by that stage without any near-death experiences. So why should I mess with a good thing when ignorance has been so blissful and has smiled down on my family with such good fortune. I will just keep cutting up those sausages in to tiny bite size pieces and my kid will be fine.
And then Shelby complains of a sore throat tonight. So I give her one of those dime size chewable orange vitamin C's. And Garrett points to it, indicating that he wants one, so I go and grab one for him. He's had a hundred of these in his life time, in large part because my family believes that it is the manna from heaven that cures all ills, and if one has a sore throat, a cough, a headache, cramps, a broken arm, or cancer, all one has to do is overload on vitamin C and you will be cured. As much as I have tried to dispel this myth, I constantly find contraband vitamin C containers in my house, smuggled in by the blood relative.
I walk away. Shelby and Garrett are in the front room together. I am at the sink. Garrett comes running to me, screaming in a high pitched wail. I ask Shelby what happened. She says she doesn't know. I ask louder, thinking she will admit to pinching him, since his cry sounds like he is in pain, but she reiterates that she has no idea. I pick him up. He is crying in a way I am not used to. He is drooling...a lot. He starts to gag, and spit keeps coming out. Foaming spit. He is writhing and cradling his head in to my shoulder, which at this point is sopping wet from his drool. I still have not put two and two together- that my baby is choking right in my arms, that a vitamin C is lodged in his windpipe and he can not communicate this to me.
He keeps dry heaving, spitting up saliva. I wonder if he has the stomach flu. And then I ask him, "Did you swallow the vitamin C?" He nods and squeaks, "Yeah". His chest is bare, as he had just gotten out of the bath and is only in a diaper. I can see now that his heart is practically beating out of it. He is in pain. Drool is running down his chest. I am drenched in it. He can't swallow any of his saliva. I take him in to our bedroom where Dalton is reading to Gavin. I tell Gavin that I think that Garrett is choking on a vitamin C.
And just like I would do to him, he asks me in an accusatory tone, where he got the vitamin C from because "we don't give him those". I told him to spare me the lecture and save his flippin son. Garrett was hysterical. Gavin held him and he calmed a bit. So Gavin thought that I must be imagining. Then Garrett started retching again. And every time he did his face lost color. His cry was still just as pained. Gavin was now convinced and he looked as helpless as I felt. Neither of us knew a damn thing about what to do when your kid was choking to death. Gavin rationalized that the vitamin was water soluble, so if we gave it time, it would dissolve. Seeing the panic in Garrett's eyes I was not in favor of that option. I took Garrett from Gavin and swung him upside down, whacking his back. I stuck my finger in to his mouth to feel for the vitamin, but just caused him to gag hard. I was beside myself. Dalton and Shelby were terrified. To be honest, we all were. Again, what kind of morons were we? College degrees, a decent living, a normal IQ. Yet, no knowledge of basic survival skills for our baby.
Gavin called Instacare. They told us to get him to Primary's right away. That they would not see a child with an obstructed air way. He was in a diaper and it was pouring rain outside. Gavin put his pajamas on while I held him and he continued to retch and cry in my arms. Each sob sounding more frantic than the next.
We put him in the car and I drove like a bat out of hell. My thought as I raced up Foothill was, the hospitals are located in the most god-awful location in the state. Winding roads, up the foothills. If there were traffic, I would have driven off the road, and been a mad woman. Thankfully it was a Sunday so the roads were clear. But every car that was obeying the speed limit in front of me nearly had their back bumper clipped off by my Saturn SUV. And there was Garrett in the back, clenching his throat and retching over and over as his body tried to save him of what was obstructing his airway.
I pulled up in to the hospital parking lot. I had followed the red signs that said Emergency room. But now as I walked in, it didn't look very emergency roomish, and I needed a flashing neon light that said COME HERE IF YOUR KID IS DYING. I asked one of the nurses and she said I was in the right place. I told her that my son had a vitamin C lodged in his throat. Garrett was drooling all over my jacket, and I guess that semi-educated people know that this is a red flag, so after watching him for about sixty seconds, while I held him and attempted to give them my ID and insurance card, they took Garrett out of my arms with him screaming, to get his vitals.
It was when I walked in to the room a minute later that he had just gagged and expelled the vitamin C on to the nurse that was holding him. He was hysterical. They tested his oxygen and it looked great, which made them think that it was all out of his airway. I looked at the piece that they had put in to a tissue and it was only a half a piece. My little guy nearly died from that tiny little son of a bitch piece of vitamin. I could hardly believe it.
It took a few minutes to calm him down. It took a minute for me to calm down. The nurse said that if he could drink and eat OK he could go. I had a bottle in my purse that he gulped down and he nibbled on the cracker they gave him. I called from the hospital phone in the room to tell Gavin that he was OK. Gavin sounded miffed that I'd nearly killed his kid. I wasn't feeling the love heading his direction either to be honest.
I had my two year old though, who was breathing fine, and that was enough. Garrett gave the nurses a smile, with his bottle in one hand and a green beanie baby that they'd given him in the other. We left, and this time we drove home much slower. The rain had let up as we walked in the house.
Garrett got enveloped in a boy team hug as soon as we walked through the door, where they pawed him and looked at his hospital bracelet, and told him how great his beanie baby bear was as he showed it off to them. He was a little rock star. Shelby had gone to bed already, so Dalton and I talked while Gavin did Garrett's bedtime routine. I told Dalton that we should have known what to do. He told me how scared he had been and asked if he could take Garrett's hospital bracelet to school tomorrow to show his friends. I said yes.
I know I am not the only parent that was unprepared in the case of medical emergency. But seriously, I don't really see any excuse. If this was Dalton and I was some wet-behind-the-ear 23 year old, I could see. But I had no excuse. I was thinking of how lucky we were. And that I was glad that it happened with me, and not with a sitter or another family member. Because I would have been furious with them, and now instead I am just furious with myself.
I was also thinking of this friend of mine who has an ill child. A child who every day has some episode like Garrett did tonight, where her child's life is on the line, and they desperately attempt to save her...every day. I could not have imagined the stress, and the emotional toll that that would take. But for a couple hours tonight I saw, and I am in awe of this friend, and what she endures. And now he sleeps. I am happy. Truly, the definition of happy- three healthy children. Knock on wood.