I feel I need to get something off my chest, I’ve only told a couple of people about an incident that happened in July, I was left scared and traumatised by it and I really hope it doesn’t happen again. I hope that by sharing my story I get some release and stop dwelling over what happened meaning I can move on.
It was a Saturday lunchtime and we had decided to get lunch in town rather than go home so we picked a local gastro pub which we had heard good things about, they had a highchair and were child friendly so it sounded like a perfect choice.
I always pack a piece of fruit and a couple if snacks for Arthur as he associates sitting in a high chair with food NOW so once we had ordered I got him some fruit out of his bag and started to feed him his grapes.
Arthur has been following baby led weaning since he was 6 months old and quite happily munches on anything and everything, if something is too hard or chewy he will attempt it and if he’s struggling he will throw it down in protest.
He polished off his grapes in record speed so I started to peel his satsuma, for the past three months Arthur has devoured clementines, tangerines, satsumas and oranges so as you can imagine he got rather excited when he saw me preparing the segments for him.
He ate the first few segments like he always does and when I handed his next segment he started chewing and all of a sudden he was gasping for air, trying to cough but unable to, his face was going red and I shut down.
I’m his mother, I’m supposed to look after him, teach him how to do things, love him and most important of all protect him. I didn’t do any of these things, I froze. Only for a few seconds but still, I froze.
I dived to the button to open the straps so I could release him, I tried to put my fingers in his mouth to get the orange out so he could breathe. There was nothing there.
David jumped up out of his seat, scooped Arthur up and started smacking him hard on the back and within two seconds the chewed up orange and phlegm shot out of his mouth. He had a little cough and his colour returned to normal and he looked like nothing had happened as you can see in the picture below.
I was a mess, an emotional wreck. I couldn’t stop shaking, I was freezing cold and crying. I kept thinking what would have happened if I had been alone? Would Arthur have stopped breathing? Would anyone have helped or even known what to do? Would an ambulance have got here in time if he didn’t bring it up.
It’s been over 2 months now since this happened and I’m petrified each time Arthur puts something into his mouth, every time he makes a gagging noise or coughs I think he’s choking, I’m cutting his fruit into tiny pieces which he hates and I’m staring into his mouth as he eats something to make sure he isn’t taking too much at a time.
Some people will think this is trivial and something I shouldn’t still be dwelling on which is fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just can’t move on from the fact I feel like I have failed as a mother. The one job I signed up to do when I brought Arthur into this world I have failed at. I couldn’t help me son when he needed me. I won’t forget the look in his eyes when he was gasping for air and staring into my eyes and I did nothing. When he is playing and he comes over for a cuddle, holds my face and stares into my eyes I wonder if he’s looking at me wondering why I just looked back when he wanted my help, why his father had to help him and why I crumbled.
I panic daily about it happening again, I hate feeding him when I’m alone, I wonder if David trusts me to act accordingly should something happen again. Would I act differently if it does happen again? Will I be able to remember what to do?
I hope none of my readers have to go through this but as toddlers have a knack of finding the smallest of objects you have forgotten to put
away I thought I would share some tips I found on the NHS website. If any of my readers have experienced something similar, how did you deal with the guilt? Does it ever go away?
What to do if your child is choking
If you can see the object, try to remove it. Don’t poke blindly with your fingers. You could make things worse by pushing the object in further.
If your child is coughing loudly, there’s no need to do anything. Encourage them to carry on coughing and don’t leave them.
If your child’s coughing is not effective (it’s silent or they can’t breathe in properly), shout for help immediately and decide whether they’re still conscious.
If your child is still conscious but they’re either not coughing or their coughing is not effective, use back blows (see below).
Back blows for children under one year
Support the child in a head-downwards position. Gravity can help dislodge the object. It’s easiest to do this if you sit or kneel and support the child on your lap.
Don’t compress the soft tissues under the jaw as this will make the obstruction worse.
Give up to five sharp back blows with the
heel of one hand in the middle of the back between the shoulder blades.
Back blows for children over one year
Back blows are more effective if the child is positioned head down.
Put a small child across your lap as you would a baby.
If this isn’t possible, support your child in a forward-leaning position and give the back blows from behind.
If back blows don’t relieve the choking and your child is still conscious, give chest thrusts (see below) to infants under one year or abdominal thrusts (see below) to children over one year. This will create an artificial cough, increasing pressure in the chest and helping to dislodge the object.
Chest thrusts for children under one year
Support the baby on your arm, which is placed down (or across) your thigh as you sit or kneel.
Find the breastbone, and place two fingers in the middle.
Give five sharp chest thrusts (pushes), compressing the chest by about a third.
Abdominal thrusts for children over one year:
Stand or kneel behind your child. Place your arms under the child’s arms and around their upper abdomen.
Clench your fist and place it between the navel and ribs.
Grasp this hand with your other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards.
Repeat up to five times.
Make sure you don’t apply pressure to the lower ribcage as this may cause damage.
Following chest or abdominal thrusts, reassess your child as follows
If the object is still not dislodged and your child is still conscious, continue the sequence of back blows and either chest or abdominal thrusts.
Call out or send for help if you’re still on your own.
Don’t leave the child.
Even if the object is expelled, get medical help. Part of the object might have been left behind or your child might have been hurt by the procedure.
Unconscious child with choking
If a choking child is, or becomes, unconscious, put them on a firm, flat surface.
Call out loudly or send for help if you’re on your own.
Don’t leave the child at any stage.
Open the child’s mouth. If the object is clearly visible and you can grasp it easily, then remove it.
Don’t poke blindly or repeatedly with your fingers to try to get the object out. This can push the object further in, making it harder to remove and causing more injury to the child.