Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When a moment seems like a lifetime...

We just had one of those moments that will shake a parent to their core. It all started out innocently enough: I was trying to wrangle the children for bed and get their pajamas on. In typical fashion, my son was dodging me like a bullet. Tired of chasing him, I just sat on the bedroom floor and waited for him to come around my way again.

My daughter, being the Little Mommy she is, helped me by taking away the cars he was carrying around and started to lead him back to me. He, of course, didn't like this at all and started to wail. In fact, he threw himself down on the floor and got ready for an all-out fit. And then, suddenly he went silent. Although his face was the picture of a screaming baby, no sound was coming out of his mouth. My husband, Mark, was right there next to him and I could hear him trying to calm him down.

I got up from where I was sitting and went into the hall. I saw my husband and my son coming toward me, when suddenly my son threw himself face-first onto the floor. His body was thrashing about violently. Still emitting no sound from his mouth. {Looking back, I realize that this thrashing was probably the result of panic on my son's behalf, although it looked as if he was seizing} I leaned down to pick him up and he went stiff as a board in my arms. I looked at his face and it was purple. His lips were blue. Really, truly blue. His eyes had a vacant look, and although he was looking at me, it was like he was looking through me. Then, I watched as his eyes rolled into the back of his head. He had stopped breathing.

I asked (well, screamed, is more like it) my husband if our son was having a seizure (we have a history of childhood epilepsy in our family), and my husband replied that he didn't know what was happening. I frantically thrust our son into my husband's arms and fled for the bedroom phone. I vaguely recall brushing past my daughter, tears in her eyes, as she stood watching nearby.

My hands were shaking and my heart was pounding. I picked up the phone and dropped it. I picked it up and dropped it again. When I had finally grasped it (it felt like I was moving in slow-motion) in my hand, I headed back into the hall. My heart sank. My son, drooping and hanging like a limp rag doll, was completely unconscious in my husband's arms. His lips were still blue and he was not breathing. My husband was calling his name. Again and again. "No. This isn't happening," was the only thought running through my mind. I honestly believed that my son was dying.

Panic had already set in, but now it was in full overdrive. "Are you sure he isn't choking on something??" I asked. Without waiting for an answer, I pleaded to Mark, "Do something!" Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him giving several hard blows to the back. I shakily dialed 911 while trying to gather the pertinent information in my head: my baby's age, what's happening, our address, my name. All the while, I was calculating how long since my son's last breath and how many minutes it would take for an ambulance to make its way to our house. My calculations gave me a feeling of despair and hopelessness. It would take too long for them to get here. It's already been too long since he last made a sound.

After I dialed, there was a long pause on the phone line. It wasn't ringing. I waited for what seemed like many minutes, but was probably only seconds. I glanced at my son and noticed him slowly lifting up his head. He gasped. His eyes were still closed but he was moving. I hung up the phone and swooped him up against my body. Hugging my baby, I turned and asked Mark a litany of questions, "Is he still blue? Can you see him breathing? Are his eyes open?" Mark assured me that the worst was over and everything was okay.

I started shaking uncontrollably and sobbing. And I didn't (and couldn't) stop for a long time. Holding him as tightly as I ever have, I buried my head into the crook of my son's tiny neck and stroked his hair. I hugged my tearful daughter and told her that we had quite a scare, but her baby brother was alright. My husband sat next to us on the hall floor and rubbed my knee, softly telling me that all is okay now.

As I laid in bed next to my little boy, waiting for him to fall asleep, I listened intently to his breathing. Was it regular? Was it too fast or too slow? Should I let him fall asleep or should we keep him awake for awhile? Honestly, he was wiped out. I think the whole incident physically and mentally exhausted him. While lying there, I thought a lot about feeling helpless and how awful that was. I have taken a few CPR classes in my time (I even reviewed my CPR handbook on a weekly basis when my daughter was an infant). Why, when it looked like I may need to use it, did my mind fail me? My child was blue and I panicked. I couldn't recall anything life-saving or, at the very least, helpful. I hated that feeling and I don't want to feel that way ever again.

With much mama-guilt, I replayed the moments of our day when I felt annoyed by my son's crying or his outright disobedience. I recalled complaining to my husband how difficult our son could be. Now here I was, overcome with tears, feeling nothing but grateful. And humbled. And I wondered to myself, how can I make gratitude and humility my constant companions without being forced to make their acquaintance through survival of a terrifying event? I don't want to be the kind of person who needs a wake-up call in order to appreciate the goodness surrounding me (even amongst the crying and whining and bickering). I'd like to think of myself as one who treasures life's everyday gifts (after all, I'm the one who annoys my husband by listing all of our blessings when he gets bogged down with negative thoughts and worries). I give thanks in prayer every single day. But, I think I could most definitely learn how to better differentiate between life's "big stuff" vs. life's "small stuff." Because, I have to say, I sweat it all. I make every little annoyance, frustration, and inconvenience a big deal. I do gratitude in a big way. But I also do grievances in a big way too. In fact, I give life's petty little downers too much weight in my life. I suppose that's a pretty human thing to do, isn't it? So, the question is, how does one go about being a little less human? ;)

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