Tonight I had to do the Heimlich Maneuver on 7 month old Bennett.
It was one of the scariest things I have ever experienced. And one of the most unexpected.
We do a big family dinner on Sunday nights, and Bennett somehow got a bite of Sterling's veggie burger.
No one saw it happen. Babies are amazingly quiet when they choke to death, and we were all talking so it took a while before anyone realized what was happening.
When we did, it was a mad rush to figure out what to do about it.
Some long ago lessons from a pre-baby class flickered in my mind and I instinctually followed them.
Thank god I did.
I laid Bennett across my knees and started doing firm whacks to his back while John called 911.
Bennett wheezed shallowly, turned red, then stopped wheezing and turned blue. His eyes bulged, snot streamed out of his nose and mouth, and tears flowed out of his eyes.
And still the blockage remained.
I remembered a long ago quote from my friend S. She was talking about attending a CPR seminar and the instructor said "If someone is choking to death, don't be afraid to get too rough with them. They are dying, you can only make it better."
And so I continued to whack his back with all my strength. Finally, after 30 or so whacks, a tiny little nugget of veggie burger flew out, coated in snot and saliva.
Bennett took a deep, raspy breath in and let out an angry bellow. It was the second sweetest cry I have ever heard him give.
My hands were shaking, my heart was pounding, I was covered in snot and clasping an angry, screaming baby... and I was so incredibly grateful.
The scary thing is that as soon as I told friends, I started hearing stories of people who had watched their loved ones choke to death in front of their eyes. It was terrifying how many stories there were.
So I want to ask a favor of you. Take a few minutes and learn how to, or refresh your knowledge of, CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver. Google it, watch videos on YouTube or take a class. Whatever works for you.
And I ask that you familiarize yourself with both the infant and adult versions, even if you don't have any children in your life. You never know when you may be around a choking child and have a chance to save their life.
Tonight, I got to watch my beautiful baby boy fall to sleep because of a class I took nearly 3 years ago. With the exception of some broken blood vessels in his eyes, he is perfectly fine.
I never thought I would actually need that infant CPR information, but I am so incredibly grateful that I paid attention anyway.