Babysitter's Worst Nightmare
About four years ago I was babysitting
my brother's children. My nephew was two and his older sister was twelve
at the time. My niece and I were talking and laughing in the kitchen while
her little brother was playing in his room.
His mom would "baby" him when he'd cough- play
along with him, patting his back asking if he was okay. He'd smile or laugh
and keep doing it, relishing the attention.
He began to cough towards the back of the house
where the bedrooms are.
At first it sounded like he was pretending because
it was a short cough. It caught our attention and it grew quiet. Then we
heard gagging and couldn't run fast enough. I ran past his sister's room
to his bedroom but it was empty.
I heard the sickening sound again and turned
back to my niece's room. I walked in as he stood hunched over, his sister
patting his back telling him to spit it up. He was gagging and vomiting
at the same time.
I scooped him up into my arms and told my niece
to call 911.
I took him to the living room, sat down, flipped
him on his stomach draped over my knees- almost like I was giving him an
"airplane" and was firmly but gently thumping him between his shoulder
blades. He was gagging and vomiting as I began to cry and say "Please."
I could hear my niece crying on the phone with the 911 dispatcher.
I flipped him on his back, feeling desperate,
and tried to push on his diaphragm but it didn't feel right to have him
this way so I flipped him over again. I kept pleading with tears "Please,
please Jesus, please."
My nephew threw up again as I pressed in between
his shoulder blades again and this time a loud thud sounded on the floor.
He finally coughed up what was lodged in this throat! It was a Chuck E
Cheese game token, about the size of a quarter.
He was quiet, but alert, clinging to me. The
sound of cop cars and an ambulance pulling up blared in the neighborhood.
The paramedics came in and checked him out briefly. They determined he
was okay and soon left.
I was ashamed with guilt. It was my job to watch
over these kids, to keep them safe. I thought of my brother and his (ex)
wife and how I would've had to call them and tell them the worst news they'd
ever receive- I did call them of course to relay the terrifying ordeal-
that their son was no longer with us. Gosh that makes me queasy even to
type it but it's what I'd thought.
What makes this story even more miraculous is
that I flashed on a high school memory. I received a helpful tip from an
eccentric computer teacher. Not sure why she'd tell us almost out of the
blue one day that with children two and under you wouldn't perform the
Heimlich Maneuver because you would most likely break their ribs. Her suggestion
was to hit them on the back between their shoulder blades.
Us as students didn't think that made sense and
some argued with her that it didn't seem like a good idea. My brother himself
said he probably would've stuck his finger in his mouth to try to dislodge
the obstruction. My father had done that to my brother at a similar age
as he choked on a bottle cap.
Unfortunately, years later Mrs. B's advice would
come in handy. Thank the Lord I was able to recall it.
These days, my nephew is a happy and healthy,
if not overly energetic, and intelligent six year old boy.
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