There are things we don’t think about as parents. Things we wouldn’t imagine could happen to our children, happen every single day. Somewhere, close by, someone is suffering a loss that the rest of us may sit back and watch from the television screen. We may point our finger in utter SHOCK, “HOW in the WORLD could that mother LET that HAPPEN!?” “She is obviously a neglectful parent.” Others, we sit back and we grieve for these parents suffering from loss of a child during a freak accident and within mere minutes, we go back to our daily routine and happy lives, never looking back. I raise my hand to both circumstances. I have been that parent before. Up until Saturday, I can say that I have never felt so close to losing someone that means so much to me. Saturday afternoon, I breathed and lived my worst nightmare. It all happened so fast, too fast for me to understand.
I am going to begin by saying that I am here to tell a story in hopes that you will read it, and take in to consideration the things I was neglectful of that day. If any of you know me, you know that I am not a neglectful parent. I love my kids more than I could ever love myself and would trade my life for theirs without question. I say this because most mothers that I know are wonderful moms, who follow the important parenting “rules”, and this same exact situation could happen to any of you. Take to heart what I have to say. Take this lesson and remember to check and be aware of everything going on around you.
Saturday afternoon, my family and I were swimming next door at Ryan’s grandparent’s swimming pool. It was a typical day. Most days, I gather our things in to bags and the boys and I hike across the yard to enjoy laughter and sun together. It was Carson, Silas, Ryan, Lisa, Al and myself. Ryan soon had to leave for work, and he gave us all hugs and kisses and took off. A couple of hours had passed by, and Carson got out of the water to eat a snack. I took his life jacket off so he could eat and dry off so that I could apply more sunscreen on his body.
It felt like we had been out of the pool for a while, but it couldn’t have been more than ten minutes. Carson went to grab his life jacket, but I told him to wait. There was a hornet flying around it and it wouldn’t fly away. I’m scared of bees and I didn’t want him to get stung.
Silas started to cry and I went over to check on him. He had pooped and it was EVERYWHERE. I scooped him up and placed him on a pool bench and began cleaning him up.
My first mistake was that I left Carson to begin doing something else, without putting his life jacket back on him. My second mistake was that I had my back turned to the pool as I was changing Silas’ diaper. My third mistake was that I did not speak up and tell anyone what I was doing, or to keep an eye on Carson as I was trying to take care of Silas.
Sometimes when I am around others, especially grandparents or adults that are accustomed to caring for children, I let my guard down. I don’t do this knowingly, but subconsciously I feel less afraid that if something were to happen, and I did not see it, that someone would. It is easy for me to become more laid back when we always have family around and my kids are constantly being played with by lots of other people, and the biggest mistake of all that I could have made at that moment was not acting on the most crucial responsibility that I have as a parent, and keeping MY eyes on BOTH of my children, at ALL times. It is no ones responsibility to see, hear or feel my children around, except mine. I have learned so many things from this that I hope each of you will as well, in hopes that it could prevent this type of mistake from happening to you in the future.
It felt like forever had passed by. That swim diaper was so gross. Silas had poop on his back, legs, feet.. it was all over the place. I felt as if I had been wiping and wiping and wiping for longest time. Then I proceeded to pick up the diaper and ponder on how in the world I would even clean the poop off of it so that he could wear it again? I put on a new diaper, I picked him up, and I began to walk around the pool. I don’t know where my brain was at that time, or why I hadn’t thought sooner where my other rambunctious, brave and clumsy child was.
Then I see him. I see him laying in the pool. Submerged in water. Barely fighting to kick or swim. His whole body limp and giving out on him. I screamed in panic. Al and Lisa had been doing what normal people who don’t have young children do, enjoying their time in the pool. Al was swimming laps, and Lisa was laying out on a float trying to rest. I screamed for Lisa to “GET HIM!” I don’t remember much after as far as the repetitive panicked screams I gave. It all happened so quickly. But it’s a moment I will never in my life be able to put behind me. I will never forget the way he looked. He was blue, limp, not breathing. Lisa lifted his limp body out of the pool on to a float. Al yelled for me to call 911, then rushed over and checked his pulse. If there was one, he couldn’t find it. He began chest compression CPR. I was on the phone with 911, repeatedly telling them the address, the way he looked, the fact that his birthday is on Wednesday. I don’t think I was making a whole lot of sense. As far as my mind knew, my baby was gone. He screamed for me. Oh, thank you GOD! He screamed for me! Al took over the phone call and I went over to hold him. I couldn’t breathe past the pounding in my chest but I heard Lisa continue to tell me he was ok, “He’s ok.”
I carried him. He violently threw up water over my shoulder. One, two, three times. I made him look at me. I asked him his name. He stared at me blankly and his eyes began rolling back and forth, and back. I screamed for Al to tell them to hurry. I thought I was losing him. I kept thinking back to all the recent articles I had read about secondary drowning and I couldn’t help but relate everything to that. I heard the sirens and I took off to the driveway. The fire department showed up and they checked his eyes, his strength by allowing him to squeeze their hand. I kept trying to get his attention and keep him focused. The ambulance came and we drove to Baptist. The entire trip he kept rolling his eyes and drifting off. I screamed at him a couple of times because he wouldn’t listen to me. I just remember telling him to “Stay with me. You can’t leave me. You have to open your eyes.”
When we got to the hospital, Ryan was standing outside waiting. He had rushed over from work. I couldn’t look at him or I was going to lose it. I knew that what had happened was my fault.
Once inside, they gave him a chest x-ray and thankfully, by the grace of God, everything came back normal. No inflammation in his lungs like we had been worried about.
Visitors came and he began to perk up. His soft whispering voice turned in to a few louder spoken words, and then his contagious smile spread across his face. Within hours, our sweet boy was beginning to act like himself.
He stayed overnight for observation, and they allowed him to leave the next day by noon.
So many doctors let us know how lucky he was to have been through what he had. The wonderful men from the fire department that so quickly sped over to help him also let us know that many times, after going through what he had, that the scenario is not always a happy ending. We went to visit them yesterday, to let him sit in the fire trucks, and to squeeze the men and the one girl that didn’t waste a second trying to get to him.
Hug your children every day, kiss them when you have a minute. Look around you and make sure you are fully aware of the dangers that can cause harm to the little people you love so much. I always take precaution, but the one moment I slipped and let my guard down, my child was almost taken from me – by something that I can easily take action to prevent.
Make rules before swimming.
Take CPR classes. Had my father-in-law not been there, it is scary to think, but I would not have known exactly what to do. I will be making it to CPR training as soon as possible.
I have had nightmares every night since it happened. I wake up in the middle of the night and gasp for air, reaching over to feel that he’s there, that he is breathing. It’s not something I ever want to go through again. I never want him to ever feel that scared again. What hurts the most, is wondering what thoughts went through his mind. Did he lose his trust in me? Did he feel like I would never save him?
Had I of not turned around when I did, he may not have made it. If I had waited 30 more seconds, he could have died. It’s so scary to think that all I did was change a diaper in the amount of time it took him to fall in. Something I do time and time again, without thinking. With three adults around, you would think that you could hear a child in water, but it is more silent than you would think. None of us knew what was happening.
So out of all of this, please pay attention to everything going on around you. With children, never let your guard down. Things that can easily be prevented, can happen when you least expect them to. Do not get distracted from your children. Take the time to check them before doing anything else. Forgive yourself. I am having a hard time doing that. But it happens every single day, to many people. It is an easy mistake, which makes it more scary. Hug your children every chance you get. There is no allotted amount of time that we have here on earth. It wasn’t his time to go, and the angels were watching over him that day.
Today is a day to rejoice, my child turns three today. He didn’t miss his third birthday. Thank you God for the amazing gift of my children, and for watching over us constantly. Thank you for allowing me more time with them, to love them and watch them grow.
Happy Birthday, my sweet Carson. I love you.