There are things that happen to us in our lives that leave an imprint and remain with us forever. The first “proper” kiss you ever had, the first time you heard the words “I Love You” from someone other than your parents, the day you graduate from university, your wedding day, the birth of your children and,,,, the day that you nearly lost them. I have shared an awful lot about my life and journey with Alyssa but it has taken me until now, almost six months on for me to be able to share with you what happened and hopefully help raise awareness that may in fact save your child’s life in the future!
It was early December and a horrible cold and wet day. Despite this I had the Christmas bug and was so excited to get ready for Alyssa’s first Christmas. She was already four months old and the time was flying by so fast.
Despite the horrible cold and dreary weather, my mum and I decided to bundle up, jump in the car and head over to one of our local garden centres for a spot of lunch and to pick out a few new Christmas decorations for the house – we do the same each year!
When we got there, I swear the heavens opened up even more and we had to park quite far away, but I managed to get the pram set up, get Alyssa in and under a blanket bundled up and peg it to the entrance whilst managing to keep her, at least, dry.
We decided to go and have lunch first as it was time for Alyssa to eat too and we were quite peckish as well. I never knew at the time whether or not I would feel comfortable breastfeeding in public but I had some expressed milk in a bottle which I chose to give her as it was quite busy and I didn’t fancy putting on a show for everyone to see.
After lunch, which was completed by a giant burp from Alyssa that drew a few looks, we pootled around the shop, picked up some lovely decorations and Alyssa fell asleep in her pram all snuggled up.
Once we had everything we wanted we headed to the checkout. The till is right next to those one way automatic exit doors that only open via a sensor on one side but they were clear glass and through them we could see that somehow the rain had gotten even worse. I suggested to my mum that she stay with Alyssa and pay and I go and get the car and bring it to the entrance as we had parked so far away – I didn’t want Alyssa getting cold and wet. So off I went to get the car, absolutely soaked by the time I reached it and drove round to the exit and leaving the car running went to meet mum at the door, but what I was actually met with was something else…
What I actually came face to face with when I reached the door and looked in, was to see my mum looking frantic half-way through grabbing a beetroot coloured Alyssa out of her pram and flinging her upside down on her arm and banging her on her back over and over again. I didn’t initially understand what was happening and think I might even have smirked, until I saw the panic in my mum’s eyes and that of the eyes of the people around them! I started banging on the door because of course I couldn’t get in, it was one way and I was on the wrong side of the door – but no one was listening. They were all too busy
watching my mum, trying to stop my precious baby girl from choking and dying. To see my mum panicked let me know that what was happening was bad because she used to be a Night Sister and has always been quite calm and collected even when we had serious injuries and hurt ourselves as children – but here she was panicked and worried.
I stopped banging and just watched her smacking Alyssa, who suddenly after what seemed like an age, had some white vomit fall out of her mouth and went a slightly lighter shade of red. At this point someone noticed me and moved to the sensor to let me in the door. I ran over to Alyssa and took her off my mum and held her up on my shoulder, patting her back. She was now half screaming her head off and half gulping. She still couldn’t get her breath properly. My mum said she was concerned her breathing hadn’t returned to normal, she was blotchy all over her head which wasn’t going and she was worried that some of the vomit had perhaps gotten onto her lungs. That’s right, whilst sleeping in her pram, my little baby had vomited up her dinner and it had got caught in her throat and she had started to choke. My mum and noticed just in time to whip her out and try and save her.
After a few minutes, she still wasn’t breathing as she should so we had no choice but to call the ambulance.
No emotion had escaped me at this point, I was just hugging my baby and patting her on the back telling her between her gasps and cries that everything would be alright. I glanced at my mum on the phone to the ambulance and my eyes welled up and she said “Not now. Keep it together!” The lovely staff at the garden centre, cleared their office and took Alyssa and I in there. My mum joined us a minute or two later and
suddenly for the second time that day, a huge burp came out of my little girl and her colour and breathing started to slowly return to normal as the paramedic came through the door. He was absolutely lovely and checked her over thoroughly, reassuring me the entire time he was doing so. He listened to her chest and I held my breath, but he assured me he couldn’t hear anything. However, to be on the safe side he was going to send us to hospital so she could be monitored for an hour or two to make sure she really was okay.
I held my baby girl through the whole of the ambulance journey, talking to one of the paramedics as my mum followed behind in the car. Once we arrived at the hospital we were taken straight through and a couple of nurses arrived to check her in and check her over.
It was here that I knew she was really okay, because she instantly turned on her charm and was smiling and giggling and chattering away to everyone who stopped by to see her. We were there for just under three hours where she was checked several times. However, we were told she was okay and none the worse for her ordeal and so mum drove us home, with me holding Alyssa’s hand the entire way.
Once home, I got us both into pyjamas and climbed into my mums bed where I fed her and got her to sleep. But I could feel something bubbling up inside me. I handed her to my mums partner and that’s when it hit me. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe, my whole body began to shake and these great heaving sobs came wracking out of me. I thought I had lost her. The main thought that had crossed my mind several times throughout the ordeal had been “I knew she was too good to be true!” I had held it together all that time and now, cradled in my own mothers arms I let it all out and sat there sobbing for ten minutes. I didn’t sleep well that night or for a good few after as I would watch her to make sure she was okay, or I’d fall asleep and jump awake with an urgent need to check her and make sure she was okay. She was fine, but it took me a long time to realise that.
This all happened because Alyssa suffered from reflux and despite burping her after her lunch, I had not waited long enough before putting her down in the pram. If she had been with anyone else that day, I am almost certain this story would have had a very different ending. Children’s safety and first aid is important and that is why I am insisting her dad does a baby first-aid course before he is allowed to take her out on his own. I am not being horrible towards him, but he admits he is clueless about babies and I just think that if it happened again then at least he would know what to do. Alyssa is the most precious thing in the world to me and I can’t and wouldn’t want to imagine my life without
To my own wonderful mother, I say thank you. Thank you over and over and over again. Those words are not enough, I am not sure anything ever will be enough to say thank you for saving her life.
To all you parents out there, new and old, please make sure that both you and anyone you trust to look after your child, know what to do in a choking situation like this. Just a tiny bit of knowledge can have such a huge affect on your child’s life and yours.
The Redcross do Baby First Aid courses in areas all over the UK so there is no excuse as there is bound to be one near you! You don’t want to go through what I did… it stays with you forever!
For more information on the courses available please click here.
Thank you for reading and allowing me to share this experience with you. Would you know what to do?