Long ago, when E and I were in the early stages of our pregnancy, we took Child and Baby CPR at a nearby hospital.
We didn’t think we’d ever have to use it. We took the class seriously but also joked a fair amount, quietly to each other. Having to give mouth-to-mouth to the creepy baby dummy was the worst part – blechh.
Still, after the class was finished, we felt fairly confident that we could help our little one if she ever choked – and both agreed that we were glad to have the knowledge but hoped we’d never have to use it.
Then one day, while on a family vacation in beautiful Maui, the unimaginable happened. We were sitting in Sam Sato’s, a small local eatery in Wailuku known for incredible noodles and baked goods.
We are all hungry and we’d had to wait for a table, so by the time we sat down, we were famished. We ordered and our little 18 month old Z was in good spirits, but rambunctious – she wanted food NOW!
When the food came, before I had a chance to cut things up and get them baby-ready, Z’s chubby little hand had reached out and grabbed up a fast handful of noodles. She brought her fist to her face and we cracked up over how quickly our little breastfed beastie had become such a big fan of food.
But then, before our laughter had even stopped, E suddenly looked alarmed and said “is she okay?!” I turned my head quickly to look at Z, seated next to me, and felt all the color drain from my face. She was frozen and silent with her eyes wide and scared. She had her mouth wide open and I could tell instantly that she was choking.
Instinct kicked in immediately and before I even pulled her out of her high chair to flip her over, I just reached right into her mouth and tried to pull out the blocked food with my fingernails. Thankfully, I was able to get it on the first try! I pulled out a far too big mouthful of long, slippery noodles. Instantly she coughed, then took in a big whooosh of air.
Then, she cried – oh, how she cried! It broke my heart and was also the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard. I grabbed her up out of the high chair and held her on my lap for the rest of the meal.
She did settle down and eat a bit, once I had everything cut up nice and small. I am so thankful it wasn’t worse. It was only a split second in time, and thank God we were with her, alert and able to act quickly.
I remember for a long time after that, every time I nursed her I would thank my lucky stars that our little angel was okay. And the ultimate irony is that our Noodle (her nickname almost since birth) almost choked on a noodle!
If you’re a parent, taking that Child and Infant CPR class is a really good idea. Right now, I’m sure they’re only giving it online – but it’s still worth your time. And you won’t have to give CPR to a creepy baby doll.
Have you taken Child and Infant CPR, or have you ever had to help a choking baby or child? I’d love to hear your scary and heroic stories in the comments below – or over on Facebook.