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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I was induced with my oldest. Eighteen hours of intense back labor that ended with an emergency c-section when his heart rate started to go funky.
With my second, I wanted to try a vbac and so we scheduled the csection for a week after her due date, hopeful that she'd decide to come on her own sooner. I went into labor the day before my due date and even upon arriving at the hospital, I had every intention of pushing that girl out. Walked the hospital floors, hunched over in pain as contractions ripped through my body. After several hours of labor with absolutely NO progress, docs were concerned about her wellbeing with the issues with her cord and heart... so to the OR I once again went.
Whoever said a c-section is a cop out on giving birth is an idiot. And that person obviously never experienced major abdominal surgery after full-blown labor. Being as I did that twice and subsequently felt like I got a pretty shitty deal, when the docs asked when I'd like to schedule my c-section, I said "I'll take the first one available please."
No panicked drive to the hospital. No fighting to sit still through fist clenching contractions, terrified I'm going to move and be paralyzed the rest of my life. No aftermath of both labor and surgery. No labor. Period.
I was gonna walk into that hospital, hop up onto that OR table and chat with the anesthesiologist about the weather.
Two years ago, two in the morning and still two weeks away from due date, I turned over and tried to tell myself I was having Braxton Hicks. By4am I finally gave up and admitted to Kenny that I was in labor.
But it was a school day... The kids needed to go to school and daycare and I really needed to just wrap up a few things up for work. I got up. Called my mom so she could head down. Made lunches for the week. Threw some laundry in. Jumped in the shower. Froze in place when a contraction came.
"No big deal, I can do this for another couple hours until mom gets here. Hey! Did my water just break? In the shower? How convenient is that?!"
But when I saw the blood, everything changed. Something was very wrong. I blinked and Kenny had both kids next door. I blinked and we were at the hospital. I blinked and was laying on the OR table, nurses whispering to the doctors to above me. I blinked and heard a healthy, pissed off cry. I blinked again and the nurse was whispering in my ear that there had been a placenta abruption (no need to gross you out, just look it up), but that they got him out in time and my baby was JUST FINE.
And that, my friends, is how my baby came into this world. Ruining all my chances for a relaxing birth experience.
Pending any crazy miracles, he is for sure bound to always be the baby. He's my mamas boy. He's my blue eyed towhead. He's my little dimple cheeked love. He's my terrible sleeper. He's my great eater. He's my crazy arm dancer and funny fake laugher. He's my tester of sibling patience. He's my tester of Mama patience. He's my "you're lucky you're cute." He's my snuggler and hugger.
He is my bittersweet.
Each of his firsts is the last first. Every year is another step away from having an innocent little child who sees no faults when he looks at me and whose only concern in this world is the current location of his Mama.
And as much as my back can hurt from carrying him around while making dinner and doing laundry... As much as I would love to use the bathroom without a blonde head in my face asking if I went "poo poo"... As much as I look forward to consistent nights of sleep without a tiny voice calling for "mama" simply because he woke up and wants a hug... I know there will eventually be a day when I'll miss this.
And I'll look back and feel like all I did was blink.
"You should start a blog."
Yeah, right, I've thought. I mean, my perspectives are important to me, but who else really wants to read about them? I mean, maybe my mom. Because, you know... she's my mom. But who else?
Yet, as much as I've squashed it, pushed it, flicked it to the back of my thoughts, the idea keeps resurfacing.
I journaled almost obsessively as a kid and teenager. I still have those journals- stacks of them buried on a shelf in our laundry room. I've tried to read them but when the embarrassment of listening to my young self rises to the level in which I feel I may vomit, I quickly shove them back on that shelf. Yet I can't quite make myself toss them away... so they still sit on that dusty shelf.
It's the fear of vulnerability that has stopped me up until this point. I was so vulnerable back then... and that was just writing to myself on the blank pages of my journal. Blogging means putting it out there in this big blank space for anyone to read. To comment. To criticize. To judge. A whole world that was not even an option when I was 14, writing furious by flashlight in my bedroom at one in the morning.
But isn't this entire world just constant opportunities for those things- for commenting, criticizing and judging? We all do it, even if it's not intended to be hurtful, even if it's only our thoughts that never become words. And with those opportunities comes other chances... chances to see the world from a different perspective, chances to find camaraderie and support, chances to laugh about something you may otherwise cry about.
I'm a mother. I'm a behavior specialist by profession. I'm a mother who fails miserably as a behavior specialist at home.
I'm a wife. I'm a daughter, a sister, a friend.
I'm an athlete who is a hell of a lot slower than I used to be.
I have 3 c-section scars, laid beautifully on top of one another.
I'm a divorcee and a co-parent.
I'm a perfectionist. I'm Monica from Friends with the secret messy closet.
I'm sarcastic by nature, but not always happy with my husband when he is.
I curse a lot in my head throughout the course of a day. I'm not always so great at filtering it.
So maybe you are here because we are Facebook friends and you followed my link out of curiosity or courtesy. Maybe you're here because reading about my parenting... and human... fails make you feel like you are doing just fine. Maybe you just need a laugh. To be honest, I'm not sure where this will take me or what I will write about. It's likely to be as random as my thoughts.
I'm going to take a chance here. I'm going to take this for a ride and see where it goes.
Care to join me?