On Christmas Eve we were all standing around the kitchen as a family. We kept it simple and made nuggets for the kids. It wasn’t an “around the table” dinner; we were all too anxious awaiting Santa.
In the middle of the commotion my 3 year old walks into the middle of all of us with a distressed look on his face. He was gagging. This is something that happens pretty frequently with him because he tends to take larger bites and packs his mouth full of food. Typically it is not a problem.
I leaned down to him to see he was choking, really choking. He wasn’t just gagging. I didn’t start to panic right away, but I grabbed him and started the heimlich. A large chunk of food fell from his mouth and I felt relief, however, he was still choking. That is when I started to panic.
I started the heimlich again but it was not working. As the baby started to freak out I did too. I couldn’t get the food out of this throat. My husband yelled at me that I was hurting him. Like I cared I was hurting him? I’d rather him hurt than dead!
He grabbed him from me and just stood there. My husband wasn’t doing anything to try to help him. I started screaming in the middle of the kitchen at my husband to do something, because he was choking! He managed to get some screams out that were more like a muffled squeak than anything which meant some air was passing, but only with force.
My baby was still gagging with an obvious look of panic on his face, and my husband finally started the heimlich on him. By this time he was foaming and bubbling from his mouth and his face was turning blue. His lips were purple.
I was certain my baby was dying in my kitchen. I was so scared I couldn’t even think. I picked up the phone to call 911 while screaming at my husband that he was passing out and turning blue. I couldn’t function.
I was shaking uncontrollably so bad that dialing 911 was so hard I couldn’t even hit the numbers and had to keep clearing the screen. With my 5 year old and 8 year old screaming and crying, I was hysterical; my teenager was flying down the steps I finally made contact with the 911 operator.
I guess at that time my husband decided he wasn’t going to be gentle anymore for fear of hurting our toddler, and he gave another very forceful attempt at the heimlich. Finally, I heard our little guy wail. I turned around and another large lump of chicken nuggets lay in front of me on the floor.
I hung up with 911 and then lost my mind. I started shaking so bad that it was hard to walk, I began having trouble breathing. I just couldn’t catch my breath no matter how hard I tried and my breathing exercises were not working. I stepped outside and just cried. I allowed myself a moment to completely fall apart. It took me a good 30 minutes to calm down, but I finally did.
After this episode it made it very real how quickly one of my children could be gone. That fast. Without notice, just gone.
A few days later he was lying on my husband and I saw that his face had a slightly blue tint to it. I freaked a little bit and leaned into him to kiss him, as I did that I noticed he was not breathing. My heart jumped up into my throat again and when my husband moved him he took a huge gasp and a breath. His face turned pale pink.
That set into motion a 3 day long episode of extreme paranoia. Why wasn’t he breathing? What was happening? What could I do to protect him?
That night I was hysterical, I was lying with him afraid to take my eyes off him for fear he would quit breathing. My husband noticed my distress (and the tears streaming down my face) and told me to put him into bed with us. I did, and I still didn’t sleep. I spent most of the night watching him breathe.
This happened the following night too. I could not rest. I was certain the moment I took my eyes off my baby he would stop breathing. That was twice in just a few days. It was too much to bear.
I started the Effexor and the fears stopped. I feel a little bit calmer and I am not so scared. I can say though it was the worst week of my life.
I watch my kids closely, still feel nervous, and still have trouble letting the baby out of my sight. I am doing okay though, fighting the thoughts and working through the anxiety.
I am still afraid that my toddler will die though. I hope that after I increase my Effexor and add the Haldol those fears will vanish. Hope is all I have.
Toddler photo available from Shutterstock