A couple days ago, my baby choked.
I was napping in the other room and heard a coughing / gagging sound. At first, I didn’t wake up… I’ve overlooked coughs like that a million times before… but then I heard it again and my instincts told me something wasn’t right. I ran into her room. I scanned the crib for anything that was amiss and couldn’t see anything. She was choking and gagging.
I can’t remember what order I did things in but I know that what I learned in infant rescue classes 4 years ago (before the birth of my first child) came to the top of my mind. I flipped her over, head facing down and smacked her in the back repeatedly… I looked in her mouth and saw the item… I tried to scoop it out with my pinky but just pushed it back farther… I flipped her over again and tried to knock it out… none of that was working. I felt SO HELPLESS.
I was on the brink of panic. Alone. At home. The hospital is 1 minute away. My thoughts were “How am I going to get her to the hospital while she is choking?” I can’t believe I didn’t think to call 911…. from now on, I will. I guess that would have been my next thought. Fortunately, I reached into her mouth and was able to pinch the item and pull it out before the situation escalated further.
The item was soaked with mucus. Thick mucus. Her body was working hard to expel it. I couldn’t help but wonder just how long it had been in there… Later, I found a puddle of slippery mucus on the floor right where I had been working on her.
The item was a hair clip.
The babysitter had put the clip on her and put her down for a nap with it still in her hair. When Waipuna woke up, my teething baby put whatever she could get her hands on, into her mouth. The clip had a metal backing and I was so afraid of ripping up her throat when I pulled – but saving her life was more important. Fortunately, the clip was not smooth. It was circular, about the size of a quarter, and it had many little pleats on it. I have small, long fingers and my instinct was that I would be able to pinch onto it to extract the clip. THANK GOODNESS IT WORKED.
I can’t even handle thinking what could have happened had I not woken up… what would have happened if I wasn’t able to remove the item… if the incident had occurred while the babysitter was still alone with her… so many ‘what ifs’ have been swirling through my head…
To hear the whole story… you can watch the video above. It’s emotional… and raw… after the incident, I called my husband but he was busy and I couldn’t get in touch with anyone… I had to get it off my chest… so I turned the video camera on… and talked. And cried.
Things I’ve learned:
(1) Prevention: We can be better about having small objects around the house and near the baby. We can be better about communicating the dangers to our 3.5 year old and anyone who cares for or watches baby.
(2) Education: We need to get re-certified in infant rescue techniques and keep that knowledge up-to-date.
(3) Gratitude: We need to live every day to the fullest. Be vigilant and aware. Be loving and kind.
(4) Call 911! Hindsight is 20/20… if what I had done, did NOT work, I would have needed back up.
This incident happened SO FAST. I reacted and fortunately, what I did (although no longer recommended) worked. I’m so grateful for the training I got four years ago at Kapiolani Hospital. When I did the training, I couldn’t help but think “I wonder if I’ll remember this or know what to do in an emergency situation?”
I’m usually the one that panics. Screams. Babbles incoherently.
Since I was alone, I was forced to stay calm and do whatever it takes. One thing that reassures and comforts me is that my training kicked in right away.
I want to make clear that I do not blame anyone for what happened. We are all human. We all make mistakes. Accidents happen. And now, we can learn from our mistakes. I hope that my story will help be a reminder to other care-givers out there…
The irony is that I posted a blog about doing Wai’s hair not even two weeks ago and spoke about the dangers of choking and that you should never put baby down with anything small in her hair. Now, I’ll be even more careful and add the car seat to that list – AND any time she is not attended (no matter the circumstance).
Some resources for you:
Hawaii Pacific Health also has classes on Oahu and Kauai at their hospitals: Kapiolani, Straub, Wilcox and Pali Momi. Go to their website by clicking HERE and click on “Health & Wellness” to see a complete list of classes available.
- There are classes available for “infant care” as well as “infant care for grandparents and caregivers”
- Dates, times and class duration are provided online
- People can register right from the website
You can call the Hawaii Heart Foundation for information on where the next CPR / First Aid class will be held or to organize your own. They are a statewide organization so you can get info for any island. Here is the phone number: (808) 369-8756 and a LINK to their website.
Also, mahalo to Maui mama, Joella Gaudet Speelman, for this comment: “Best CPR class I have ever taken was with Seth De Leon at Maui CPR. As a nurse I learned new things with him which surprised me!” Click HERE for a link to find out more.
Other blogs you may be interested in:
Mahalo KITV4 for spreading awareness and encouraging people to take action through the sharing of my story!
Here is the story that aired June 10 & 11 on KITV4 News.