In addition to my daily roles as mother, wife, and nanny agency owner, I also have part-time work as a Zumba instructor and a nanny. Today, Gwenna and I were hanging out with the beautiful Baby O, as we’ll call her, because I don’t have her mom’s permission to use her name or anything (just didn’t think to ask). Baby O is about 9 months old and crawling around, finding all sorts of treasures on the floor that you just can’t see before they end up in her mouth.
I’m no stranger to choking. I’ve taken a CPR certification course and a CPR course for friends and family which covered choking. I have dealt with several instances of choking with my own baby, because when she was very small she would choke on mucus when she was laying on her back (we favored baby wearing more and more because of these incidents). But it’s always terrifying.
Baby O brought something to her mouth as she was turned away from me, and I went over to check it out. I couldn’t see anything, so I thought maybe it was a carpet thread she was moving around in her mouth. She continued to move something around in her mouth and I continued to watch her. Within a few seconds, she looked like she was choking. I immediately picked her up, turned her face-down, head tilted down, with my hand on her chest and started getting her back with my other palm, to dislodge whatever it was… she was breathing fine, but she was gagging now. So I helped her by continuing to pat her back, but nothing came up except a blood-streaked string of spit. Oh. My. God.
I swept my finger around her mouth again and finally came up with something- a small plastic star (sharp) used for crafting. It was silver, and the carpet there is a light color, so it camouflaged pretty easily. It flattened in her mouth to give me a hard time finding it, but it also could have covered up her airway pretty easily. The blood seemed to be from the sharp edges or points of star having scraped inside of her mouth.
I was ready to cry from relief, but Baby O just sat up and kind of took in a deep breath, and acted like nothing had happened.
I called her mom to tell her everything that happened. Everything was fine. I just kind of felt like we’d avoided a baby death or something.
But you know, this happens ALL. THE TIME. Not with Baby O, just with babies in general. It’s really hard to make sure absolutely everything is off the floor, much less tiny, camouflaged things, which you probably never knew were hiding out under your 4-year-old’s shoe from being tracked inside your home from his classroom at school. It’s enough to make you seriously consider calling the teacher to ask how she feels being responsible for the near-death of an infant, with all her creative, pointy, annoying crafts– but that may be the pregnancy hormones talking.
Baby O didn’t almost die, but it feels that way for a couple of very long seconds. I remember the first time that Gwenna woke up choking, all swaddled up and laying on her back in her bassinet, right next to me. It took ages to get everything up and to get her breathing again, but I did it. Calm and focused, until she breathed and calmed right back down to sleep. Then I lost it.
“SHE CAN’T GO AWAY SHE JUST GOT HERE! WHAT IF SHE WOULD HAVE DIED!”
It was terrifying to know that my brand-new baby, probably 2 days old at the time, could have been in a much worse predicament had she been in her crib in the other room, or if I wasn’t intent on checking on her every 2 minutes. She was a silent choker. What if we hadn’t been close?
Wee spent the next 3 months sleeping wrapped to each other. I used the Moby wrap constantly, even at night. I propped myself up with pillows and swaddled her to me.
I’m happy to report that Gwenna hasn’t died yet, and she thinks it’s cool to stay around. I’m looking forward to many more years with her around, hopefully choking incident-free.
Gwenna the newborn in the Moby wrap