Monday, September 21, 2009


Last night, we were pulling out some of Oscar's old toys for Miles and packing up the more baby-ish toys. We were also pulling out fall/winter hand-me-downs for both boys from the attic and putting up outgrown clothes, shoes, etc.

Our attic is of the pull down variety; the stairs are located in the ceiling of Oscar's room over his crib. To access the attic, we move Oscar's crib and pull down the stairs. We had about eight boxes to go up, so we popped both boys in the crib so I could pass boxes to Nelson.

After we were Oscar stayed in his crib reading books and I put Miles on the floor so I could sort the stuff from the attic and put away clean clothes.

At some point, I heard Miles crying and realized that he was no longer on the floor; Nelson had put him back in the crib with Oscar and LEFT THEM UNATTENDED. When I got into Oscar's room he was pushing Miles down and piling toys on top of him.

Okay, so if you don't already know this you should NEVER leave your toddler with your infant unattended. NEVER. Even if your toddler has never acted out agaist the baby (this would be shocking) he could hurt the baby either intentionally or accidentally.

I tell this to Nelson as I pull Miles out of the crib, and Nelson acknowledges he should have known not to leave them alone. I pass Miles (who is unharmed) to Nelson so I can use the bathroom.

When I get out of the bathroom (two minutes later? five minutes later?) Nelson is standing there holding Miles and he says, "I think he has something in his mouth."


"I think Miles has something in his mouth."

So, I immediately grab Miles' cheeks and do a sweep. Something falls out. It's a PIECE OF WOOD. Maybe a quarter of an inch long?

We begin wondering where this could have come from? Did it come off the floor? Did he PRY UP a piece of our wood floor? They are older and not in perfect condition, but him prying up a piece of floor seems unlikely.

Then, Nelson says, "Wait, he's still got something in there."

I grab Miles again and so a sweep. I feel nothing, but he's clearly gumming something so I go in again, reaching more for the roof of his mouth. And I feel something. Sharp? And as I try to sweep it, I accidentally push it down his throat and he beings choking. Like silent-gag-no-air choking.

Inside I am PANICKING. Miles is choking. He cannot breath. He is going to dye, right here right now. I killed my baby.

Outside, I am instructing Nelson, "Tip him forward!" And I'm firmly patting Miles on his back. And it's working. Miles is beginning to cough, so I stop patting; he starts choking again. I start patting his back again and he begins coughing. I grab him and go in again. I pull out a piece of well-gummed cardboard the size of a quarter. I sweep again. Nothing. I got it all.

All of this transpired in maybe 20 seconds? Less?

Miles is alive and smiling. My head begins spinning, things start going black. I sit down with my head between my knees. "We could have lost him. We almost lost him. I almost killed him."

"No, Jenni you saved him. I had no idea what to do. I could not have done that."

"You are supposed to look before you sweep and I didn't. I just went right into his mouth and I could have killed him."

The cardboard came from one of the boxes. We tracked the wood down to Oscar's crib where we found another small piece. It seemed to have fallen from the attic when we pulled down the stairs. Both innocent accidents; small pieces of everyday debris that we hardly ever take notice of. They could have killed my baby.

Choking is the number one cause of accidental death in children under the age of one. We were so very lucky. He had both of those items in his mouth for SEVERAL minutes without attempting to swallow them. This story could have so easily ended differently.

This was a very scary moment for me. The possibility of losing Miles felt very real and very near. Recalling the fear - the cold pit in my stomach; the panic flutter around my heart; the hot lump in my throat; the inability to get air into my lungs. I'm still not quite over it.


Jamie said...

Way to stay calm and collected mama. You did well!

Man Cub will not let us in his mouth for anything. He chewed on a piece of chicken for not less than 10 minutes this weekend. We tried to get it out, he will not let us anywhere near that gummed up chicken. We have to just watch him with hawk eyes to make sure he doesn't choke.

I don't know what I will do when he someday does choke. Hopefully I will be as composed as you and then I will most likely pass out.

Anonymous said...

Well done you for not panicking until it was over. That's a key skill to have as a mother!

You poor thing, that must have been terrifying for you.

Glad it was all ok in the end and at least you didn't have to call poison control!

blissfully caffeinated said...

Jenni, oh my god. My heart stopped reading this. Choking is the scariest thing for me, I'm so terrified of these types of situations. You handled it wonderfully, but I know that you must have just been in total shock. I'm so sorry you and Nelson went through that. So glad it turned out OK. Lots of love to you both.

Keely said...

Okay, well, you were way calmer than I would have been. Also way more aware of what to do.

Scary. So scary.

Cara said...

Oh God, Jenni. My stomach was in knots reading this. You handled it so, so well & I'm so glad Miles was ok.

Mrsbear said...

I'm so glad he's okay. I do the sweep all the time, I would've done the same exact thing! How freaking terrifying. You did good though, you kept your head and Miles is fine. Thank goodness.

Krystal said...

Well, I have had those incidents many a time - the latest was with the baby and a piece of crayon that was tossed accidentally on purpose by one of her brothers. I always forget to look before I sweep - I guess its because I fear I am going to toss it the the back of the throat by tipping the head backwards.

You acted good and stayed calm and your little boy is safe. That is all that can be asked for.

Becky said...

Oh Jenni, that is scary! But you were so calm and acted so quickly. A good reminder, though, of how fast things can go wrong.

Heather said...

There have been a few times where Gia has choked on food and I remember that overwhelming panic I felt and desperation to get it out of her mouth. We used to have a whicker hamper in our room where we'd throw our dirty clothes, the day that I found her gumming on a piece of sharp wood from the thing it immediately went out of room and into the bathroom. I can't even think about what would have happened had she swalled that sharp piece. I'm impressed that you kept your cool during the whole thing and it wasn't until after that your panic set in. I'm glad the little guy is ok.

Veronica said...

2 days ago, the same thing happened to me. Only it was a piece of corn chip that Amy had dropped on the floor and I'd not spotted. Isaac went a horrid grey colour as I patted him to dislodge it. Eventually it came up, as he gagged and vomited at the same time.

It was awful. I know exactly how you are feeling.

Sprite's Keeper said...

Oh my God, I just want to hug you right now!
That must be my worst nightmare, but you did so well in a crisis! Awesome job, Jenni!

Casey said...

Ok, I read this yesterday and was completely shaken up by it! Good for you for keeping your cool. We've only ever had one choking incident here and it was when Elliot stole one of Graham's apple chunks and choked on the skin. I actually did the same thing, calmly turned her upside down on my forearm adn started thumping her back till it popped out. Scary shit.

I saved a cat's life once after he choked on one of those cardboard circles from a packing box.

Erin said...

Oh my gosh, I am so glad everyone is okay. That was so frightening just to read. Very eye opening too, as I know I'm sometimes too lax about leaving the toddler and the baby together alone.

Big Mama Cass said...

omg, so glad he is ok... what a nightmare!! that will stay with you a while! scary!!

Stimey said...

Good work, good mom. Honestly, every single one of us cheats death every day. We just all must remain vigilant. Like it sounds like you are. You did good.

Now try to breathe. :)