Thursday, February 19, 2009
Yesterday Lulu choked. She always eats banana, loves it, opens wide for big gulps of its pulpy flesh. I've seen her gag before - three seconds, maybe four, a sound pat on the back, swallow, and fine. Last night it was just like that, same gag, same plunk, swallow, then a jagged gulp-gag. Gag, swallow-gag. She couldn't get a breath. Gag. Lucy was not breathing.
I once had a woman show me the heimlich manoeuvre for infants in the middle of Target. I felt sheepish when Janie choked on a Cheerio, but the lady thumped her so confidently that I haven't worried over choking since.
Last night was different. In half a second less than no time I had Lulu over my knee, baby heimlich. She wailed. Good. Breathing. Gag. Not breathing. Gag. Then a script of gagging and crying and not breathing interspersed with vomiting and repeat performances of the heimlich. I'd lay her over my knees; she'd be fine. Sit her up, she'd seem okay and then couldn't breathe.
For the first time in my parenting life I actually thought about calling 911. I prayed.
The throw-up looked shiny on the floor. My sleeve felt damp. Both hands were slippery. As a last ditch effort I swept her mouth for any remaining debris and mopped it off on a discarded wet wipe. Oh, dear God, it looked bloody. Craig scooped up the other kids and shooed them into the sun room. The sweeties prayed for help.
Lulu was breathing for the moment so I stared at the wet wipe. The pink smudge was a perfect square. A square? I rubbed my fingernail over the mucous. Concealed in the fibers of the wipe was a small, clear plastic square a little bigger than my thumbnail.
For a long time Lucy just laid her cheek on my chest. She ate a full dinner, and I held her. I just kept thinking, "She's alive. She's alive. Thank-you, God."