Five reasons I’m telling the awful story about one of the worst moments of my life.

This isn’t a mommy blog, but this is a mommy story. I felt like I couldn’t not tell it.

Tonight my two year old child choked on a piece of fruit. By “choked” I don’t mean that he was coughing and sputtering and I said “whoops, careful, honey.” I mean no crying, no breathing, no sounds… nothing. It’s the type of thing that every parent fears, and it’s the type of thing I never thought would happen to me. I always cut up the hotdogs into quarters. I always slice grapes in half. I monitor the toys. No popcorn allowed in our house. Tonight I gave them some cantaloupe. I hadn’t cut it myself, so I didn’t know how hard it was, but the other cantaloupe we had the other day was soft and mushy and so I didn’t even give it a second thought as I poured it out of the container onto the tray. When it happened right away, I knew something was wrong. There was no sound at all. I’m a worrier when it comes to choking so I know: when there is noise, there is no choking, the best thing to do is to continue coughing. But in this case, there was no noise, and so I knew, and I leapt into action. I pulled the child out of his chair, draped him over my arm and started giving the thrusts on his back, right between the shoulder blades (and firmly) in my case (mercifully!) it took only two (maybe only one, I can’t remember) sharp blow, and the cantaloupe came flying out.

This is the amazing two year old in question:

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Do you know what I would do without him?

Back to the choking story. The whole thing, start to finish, was less than a minute. We are blessed and lucky. Choking is the leading cause of accidental death in children under five.  If it could happen to me, me who cuts up the fruit and the grapes and doesn’t allow popcorn and worries about it a lot (more than average, I would say), well, it could happen to you.  So I’m telling my story now, even though I’d rather forget it. Here’s why.

1. I don’t want you to worry only about those foods on the “naughty” list. My child didn’t choke on a piece of hot dog or a grape or popcorn. It was cantaloupe, but it was too firm, and it was just the right size.

2. I want you to brush up on the first aid, or take a course. I’ve taken the full first aid course a couple of times, but my certification has lapsed. Mercifully, I did the right things, but if I hadn’t had those first aid courses, I’m not sure I would have done exactly what I did and, as it turns out, it was the right thing to do.

3. I want you to rejoice with me, and give thanks for our children. It’s so cliche, right? You’re going along with your day and BAM! Everything changes. I’m telling you, everything changes when something like this happens. I’m so unbelievably thankful for my child’s life this evening. Immediately after this happened he wanted to sing “the chicken on the bus goes ‘cluck, cluck, cluck'” and I thought “this is the most amazing moment of my entire life.” Because, wow. I mean, WOW.

4. I want you to hang this poster in your kitchen. I do. I really do. I’m going to hang it in mine. I don’t really care that it doesn’t go with anything. I want any babysitter, any guest, any visitor, anyone to be able to see it and know what to do if it happens to any person in my home. I don’t care. It’s going up. Tomorrow.

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Here is a PDF link. 

5. I don’t want you to worry too much. Yeah, it could happen to you. It happened to me, so you should take precautions, but the fact is, lots and lots of kids go through life without choking (I never did, thankfully!). I’m praying that my little 2 year old never remembers this incident. I’m positive I’ll remember it every single day for the rest of my life. (Ok, maybe not everyday, but check with me when I’m 90, because I’m guessing I’ll say “I remember it like it was yesterday”.) 

Don’t worry, but do hang the poster in your kitchen.

Let’s hope I never write another post like this ever, ever again.