This evening I was washing up avoiding washing up in the kitchen and I heard a strange noise. For a split second I froze thinking of great the dog is throwing up again? Then it occurs to me she’s upstairs – it’s not the dog. RUN.
I slam the dishwasher door shut and ran towards the noise. I didn’t know what that noise was, but was getting louder. It felt slow-mo. I was running and bending down at the same time, and Jen was running at me but wobbling. Then I notice he’s a dark colour on his face. What’s happening? Arrrggg! I shout “are you okay?” which was a bit daft. Before I finish that sentence I knew it was not a good situation, why did I ask that?
“Jen you’re choking, this will hurt.” I grab him and hit him between his shoulder blades. No change, I do it again, harder, no change. I hear the words a first aid trainer said 6 years ago when talking about helping choking babies and children. “Hit them hard, harder than you think you should. A bruised child is better than a dead one!” Someone asked “but isn’t that child abuse?” and the trainer says no, it might be against your instinct but sometimes hurting is helping.
I pick him up and flip him upside down so he is diagonal, feet near my ears, face near my knee. I am holding him using one arm and one leg. I couldn’t do this if I tried, luckily it was automatic. I just did it. With my free hand I hit him again harder between the shoulder blades. Nothing. I did it again, harder. Getting desperate, nearly crying, but keeping it together. I keep going… Harder and harder.
Finally! A boiled sweet, a lot of dribble and some vomit hits my Converse shoe. The leg that is forwards and holding his weight. And some tears – from us both. I put him up the right way and put him down in his own feet.
I feel shaky. I feel frightened. I feel happy. I feel overwhelmed. I feel relieved, shit I don’t know what I feel. I bend down to a very red worried Jen and say “Love you little guy” he smiles but looks like he is freaked out. I hug him and say “I had to hurt you, I’m sorry little guy.”
Sniffling away “I know Mum!”
Calling for help would have been too late, running to a neighbour would probably have been too slow. This took seconds, but it felt like much longer. It was stuck there. A sweet could have ended Jen’s life. It Was A Painfully Long Minute. Grabbing him, helping him, hugging him and realising what I just did.
Luckily I went on a free first aid course aimed at parents of small children. Six years ago I walked alone in the dark up the hill and went to a course other parents said would be a waste of time, a bit of a sales pitch as it was funded by Tesco BabyClub. Seriously, if you get the chance to do something like this, DO IT. Whoever is paying for it, even if you do leave with a bag of saley leaflets and it wastes a couple of hours.
If I didn’t know what to do…. I don’t want to finish that sentence. I just don’t.
If you can’t find a course search t’interweb. I was lucky with my eldest, he’s never properly choked… Just a few little incidents that were fixed by a glass of water and a pat on his back. I’ve never looked into his eyes desperately hoping it’s not the last time I see them that bright. But with Jen this is not the first time, yet each time the world goes slow-mo again and my actions become automatic.
If you are reading this and you know no first aid I am begging you to look it up. Make a New Years resolution a month early.
Those words don’t go. To explain to someone how to save a life? I am stuffed, I can’t do it. But when the chips are down, somehow, I Just Remember. “A bruised child is better than a dead child. Broken bones are better than a dead child.”
Words so strongly said they appear in my head when my son is an unrecognisable colour and unable to breath. Hyperventalating but unable to get air, my first action is to hit him so hard it hurts my hand. This is not something I would have done unless the trainers from RLSS hadn’t fixed those words in my head. Smart move on their part, hesitation would have been bad.
Before I went to that course I thought you fixed choking by sticking a finger in a persons mouth to dislodge the blockage or tap them on the back gently. Thank heavens I know what to do now.