Oh God. Here goes nothing.
Should I try to bring this coffee in? Two arms, three kids. Something about that math doesn't sound like it works... but math has never been my strength.
Coffee it is.
Ok, then get out of the seat yourself. Seriously kid, can we please get out of the car sometime today? Ok, this is ridiculous, now I'm just getting you out.
Great. Screaming kid before we even walk in the doors.
Okay, all little bodies in the cart. Oh my God, WHY do you two always want the same spot??
Yup buddy, there's a Paw Patrol towel. Nope, we're not getting it.
Did you really just ask if we are done yet?
Sit down in the cart, please.
How do they not have size 4 diapers? Seriously, how is that possible? Oh, there's some. Ok, let me just climb up the shelves right here to get them.
Yeah, buddy, I see the Paw Patrol pajamas. Nope, not getting them.
Sit down in the cart, please.
You want to get out and walk? Ok but I swear you better keep your cute little tush right next to this damn cart.
Sit down in the cart, please.
Dude, just pick out what yogurt you want. It's not like you're picking out Pokémon cards. It's yogurt.
JUST PICK ONE.
Get back here next to this cart!
Sit down in the cart, PLEASE!
Yes, I see the Paw Patrol fruit snacks! Yeah, we can get them. No. We can't open them yet.
Let go of the box. Let. Go. Of. The. Box. How the hell is he so strong? He's like, barely 2.
Why is everyone staring? Have they never heard a child cry before?
Ok, just take the damn fruit snacks. Oh good lord. Everyone just take some fruit snacks. Mama will just be arrested for shop lifting and y'all will have to walk home.
You have to pee? Like right now? Can you hold it?
Ok, we're going to the potty. I didn't bring any extra clothes so you gotta hold it girlfriend.
Run. Run! Dude keep up with me, your sister is about to piss herself!
Holy hell, we made it. How do you have that much urine in you? Your bladder is tiny, where do you even store it all?!
Omg don't touch that.
Ok crisis adverted. I think I missed some things on my list. Wait, where is my list? Did you delete my list? Just forget it. We're too close to the check out to backtrack anyway.
For the love-of-all-things-holy, why are there only 3 registers open? You're the biggest superstore chain in the nation... how do you only have 3 registers open?!
No, you can't have that Snickers.
Or that pop.
Or that gum.
Yeah bud, Paw Patrol balloon. Pretty cool. No, you can't have it.
Okay guys, seriously, put everything back. Please? Please or I'm gonna rip it out of your pretty little hand... 1... 2... two and a half... thr... oh thank God, she put it back.
Hey, where's my card? I swear it was just here... oh, you sly little bugger, how did you get a hold of that?
Here, give it to mama. Ok, ok, relax. You wanna help me swipe it? Ok, here swipe it! Ok, here, try again like this. You gotta turn the card like this. Dude, let me turn your hand so it will work... Omg, here give me the damn card and just let me do it.
Okay, do I have everyone? Can we get out of here?
Where are my car keys?
Where is my phone?
And where the f%$# did I put my coffee?
That means a lot of things that I love. The smell of leaves and crisp air that inevitably always brings back memories of cross country season.
Halloween and the excitement of my kids as we engage in the weird ritual of dressing up and asking for candy from complete strangers.
Pumpkin lattes from Starbucks that turn into peppermint mochas and the promise of the holidays fast approaching.
And as my son's baseball team switched over to pink and black jerseys and we laced pink shoelaces through his cleats, I found myself explaining to him something else about October. The reason why he's wearing that color.
Although October has been breast cancer awareness month since 1985, awareness has become more public and prominent over the more recent years. MLB and NFL fans watch their favorite teams play in pink, industry production of pink products are everywhere and brave survivors now have social media to share their stories.
I do not have a family history of breast cancer. My exposure to breast cancer was extremely limited until just a few years ago; but now I suddenly find myself with many friends who are current fighters, survivors, or both.
And although I have not had to personally fight that battle, the significance behind this month has hit me harder than usual the past few years. Of course because of those friends whom I know are personally fighting that battle... but for another reason too.
Boobs. Such a funny word that makes my kids giggle every time.
A young girl can't wait for them to grow. Another young woman wishes they were smaller because they draw too much attention. An athlete curses them as she squeezes into two sports bras in an attempt to keep them still. A bride pushes them up to make sure they just look just right in her wedding gown. A soon-to-be mother marvels at how big and painful they've become.
And then the baby comes and it just all makes sense.
Now don't get me wrong; I'm a huge advocate for feeding babies. Breastfed, bottle fed, formula fed, pumped milk fed... fed is always best.
Personally, however, I was lucky to have babies who breastfed well and blessed to have enough chances that I became much more relaxed by the third time around.
About a year ago, there were "breastfeeding tree of life" pictures floating around the internet with instructions on the app to use and how to create the pictures. Still breastfeeding my youngest at the time, I immediately downloaded the app and played around with it. I never posted it because... well, I'm not really sure why. The pictures were beautiful. The ones I saw online and the ones of my own blonde babe nursing. How could they not be?
I adored nursing my babies. When I found the picture on my phone, I realized how much I miss it. And having found it during this particular month of the year, I couldn't help but think about how some mothers have been or will be cheated out of such a beautiful experience.
My heart goes out to all the mothers who were not able to breastfeed their babies because of a disease. My heart goes out to all the mothers who nursed their babies, only to find out later that a disease has taken over the very part of their bodies that gave life to their babies.
And my heart goes out to future mothers and future women who will get a phone call or sit in a doctors office and hear those words. Even without a family history, none of us are immune. Breast cancer affects one in eight women; that's our mothers, our sisters, our friends. Any one of us could be one of those future women.
It's scary and sad and cruel and unfair.
I paused when I found this picture on my phone; my heart in my throat as I saw the beauty in what our bodies can do.
And I explained the meaning of the month to my son because he needs to understand. I explained because I don't want him to wear the color simply because he sees all his favorite pro athletes with pink shoelaces. I explained because he is our future and our future NEEDS to find a cure.
Feel like helping? Check these options out below:
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Susan G. Komen
Did you know that a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes? Did you know you can donate your credit card rewards to breast cancer awareness and research? Did you know that your Amazon purchases can help support breast cancer awareness when you buy through Amazon Smile? Did you know that American Airlines is partnering with Susan G. Komen this month to help raise money for breast cancer awareness? Go here for a great comprehensive resource on how you can help support the ta-ta's.
Have you ever heard the sound of spring peepers? Wikipedia describes them as "chorus frogs" (yup, I looked it up), which is pretty fitting for the musical chirps they make through spring and summer.
Growing up across from a goldfish hatchery, there were plenty of opportunities to listen to their serenade. Hundreds- maybe even thousands of them chirping and peeping together, with the occasional loud croak of a bullfrog mixed in.
It's a noise that could be irritating when you are a quiet-room type of sleeper, as I was while growing up. Three kids and a house 3 miles from an airport later, I've perfected the art of falling asleep with any and all types of noise. Those spring peepers have become not only a sound that doesn't bother me, but a welcomed one.
Over the years since I've moved out, the goldfish hatchery has closed down. Amish bought the land and although they can't build on the soggy soil, it houses their pigs, goats and sheep.
But the swampy ground and outlines of the ponds are still there... and along with that, the spring peepers.
What was once the sound I remember hearing while playing outside at dusk as a child, became the chatter floating through the air as I pulled my car into the driveway after a track meet as a high schooler. What was once the background music for bonfires and cocktails as a young adult, became the melody floating through the windows during late nights of nursing babies.
And those nursing babies turned into small children and I found myself again playing outside at dusk to that noisy harmony.
I'm not a sentimental person when it comes to material things and the memories attached to them. My husband would likely argue that I'm drastically the opposite, as he has witnessed the crazed look in my eyes as I run frantically from room to room, purging everything that hasn't been used in the past month because "our house is small and there is too much damn stuff in it."
But sounds... it's the sounds that get me. The sound of an newborn crying or toddler giggling. The sound of loved ones voices and songs that played during certain life events. Even the sound of that creaky basement door in my house that makes me feel like all will be right in the world, as long as that door keeps on creaking.
And those spring peepers.
After 36 years, my parents are selling and moving out of their house this week. And much like the "firsts" of my last baby, I'm sure we are all feeling the bittersweet tone of this move. My parents are moving to a beautiful new home, with a better layout and in a great location. My kids are going to think that exploring a brand new house is an exciting adventure. But my dad built those walls, my sisters and I slept in those rooms and I logged thousands of miles on those roads.
Yet it's not the house or the roads or the rooms that get me.
It's the sound.
Memories of my childhood will forever be wrapped up in those little "chorus frogs" and their serenade. And that is perfectly fine with me.
I'm going to lose her.
I heard a noise from the bathroom. The bathroom where my daughter had been happily singing the ABC song, and had just shouted over to me, "I almost done cleaning up Mama." I had left her in the empty bathtub to clean up her toys, as I dressed her little brother in the bedroom across the hall. Actions and routines we've done a million times before.
Something did not register right in the noise. It was a noise but too quiet of a noise. Loud is always a good sign with kids. Quiet is not.
She was hunched over in the empty tub, her arms and hands extended in panic, her head thrust forward and mouth open. The noise coming out her open mouth was too quiet.
I grabbed her wet body and flipped her over, hitting her back. Again and again. I stuck my finger in her mouth and felt nothing. I could see the distress on her face and it confused me. I knew she was choking but on what? The bathtub toys were not small enough to fit in her mouth. She doesn't even put toys in her mouth. She never has, even as a baby.
Her lips were blue.
I'm going to lose her.
I ran. I ran with my naked, wet daughter belly down on my arms. I ran without shoes. I shouted to my little boy "stay right there, Mama will be back," and I ran.
I screamed. I screamed louder than I've ever screamed. I ran and I screamed; out the front door, across our lawn, across my neighbor's driveway and up the stairs to their front door. I screamed and ran because I knew I needed help. I screamed and ran because I didn't know where my phone was and I needed someone to call 911. I screamed and ran because I needed someone to save my little girl.
I'm going to lose her.
Ms. T, our beloved next door neighbor and daycare provider, heard my scream. She was opening the door as my fist made contact with it.
I think she's choking, she can't breathe. Please help me.
As I fell forward, Ms. T caught my girl in her arms. Her feet were white. Her lips were blue. Her noise was too quiet.
It took one more pound on her back and the toy flew out. The toy that was not a bathtub toy. The toy that I didn't even know was in the bathtub. The toy that my 3 and 1/2 year old had played with dozens of times and had never once put in her mouth. The toy that somehow went in her mouth and lodged itself in her throat. The toy that almost killed her.
She took a ragged breath and started coughing. The beautiful peach color flooded back into her feet and lips. She looked at me and started crying. I grabbed onto her small, trembling little body with all I had.
I didn't lose her.
But I could have. It could have ended so differently. It could have been longer before I realized what was happening. My fear could have caused my body and mind to freeze; a very possible bio-mechanical reaction. My amazing neighbor could have been gone. All of my amazing neighbors (neighbors who are former EMTs and firefighters) could have been gone. I could have lost her.
I'm not writing this because I enjoy revisiting those terrifying moments. They will be on loop in my mind for a very long time, haunting my thoughts throughout the day and my dreams throughout the night.
I'm writing this because I want you to feel it. I want you to feel the panic I felt and I want you to do something about it.
Not every parent is lucky enough to have a neighbor who has 35 plus years of child CPR and first aid training. Not every parent has a firefighter or former firefighter living across the street. Not every parent lives in a neighborhood with a fire station down the road or first responders who can arrive quickly enough to save the life of their choking child.
Not every parent has CPR and first aid training that would allow them to save their child's life.
Not every parent, including me.
If you babysit when you are young, you may have it. If you decide to take a parenting class for your firstborn, you may have it. And like me, those ifs may have been 8, 10, 15, 25 years ago.
I hope you read this with a racing heart and tears in your eyes. I hope you breath a sigh of relief knowing my little girl is just fine... and then I hope you move through the rest of your day with my words nagging at the back of your thoughts. I hope you find yourself on your phone, your computer, your tablet searching for a CPR course and registering for it.
I hope you never need it to use it. But I hope that you know how to, if you do.
I didn't lose her.
I'm registered for class this November.
Please, please, please join me. I beg you.
The Red Cross
American Health Care Academy
American Heart Association
National CPR Foundation
For all my Baltimore local friends:
Anne Arundel Medical Center
Anne Arundel County Fire Department Training Academy
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