I took a lot of classes while I was pregnant. All were essential in helping me with childbirth, breastfeeding, relaxation, and coping with the various physical and emotional changes that pregnancy brings. However, a few months ago, I realized that the most critical and often overlooked class I took while I was in my second pregnancy was an infant and child CPR class.
It’s the class that everyone should take, and no one ever wants to use it. But one day during lunch this year, I needed it.
It was a typical day waking up, eating, watching a little Bluey, remote learning, and lunch. We prepared lunch just like any other day – sandwich, string cheese, cucumbers, and the kids’ favorite – strawberries. I don’t usually sit down with the kids to eat during lunchtime, but this day, I grabbed a glass of water and sat with them while I figured out what I wanted to have myself.
Since strawberries are my children’s favorite food, we usually cut them up pretty small and in irregular shapes because they tend to inhale them before eating anything else. This day was just the same, except the strawberries were bigger than usual.
As they were eating, my youngest, who was three years old at the time, looked up at me. I will never forget the look in her eyes. It was a look of sheer terror. Her mouth was open a little, but I could tell she wasn’t breathing.
At first, I didn’t know what I was looking at. I walked over to her asked if she was ok, and she just continued to stare at me. Her eyes were even wider now, and her normally-pale skin began to turn red. I scooped her up, planted her feet on the kitchen floor, bent her over my arm, and gave her three swift, forceful hits on her back. A piece of strawberry flew out of her mouth and hit the floor. She took a huge breath in and began to scream.
That scream was probably the best sound I have ever heard in my life. It meant she was breathing. It meant she was ok. I hugged her so tightly, and tears began streaming down my cheeks. They were tears of relief.
“Are you ok, mama?” she asked. “Yes, I’m good. Are you ok?” She nodded. “Let’s go finish your lunch,” I replied. And that was it. It was over. Everything went back to normal as nothing had ever happened. But for me, I was shaking for the rest of the day.
We do things very differently with meals in this house now. My children do not eat alone. Their plates are removed when they are goofing around. I wouldn’t say we are obsessed with one of them choking again, but we are definitely more vigilant.
I am thankful every day that my yoga studio (of all places!) offered that CPR class. I’m honestly not sure how I would have reacted in the moment or what would have happened to my baby if I had not taken the class and sprung right into action.
I never want to have to use the skills from that class again, but knowing that I have them and knowing that they work when we need them is such a comfort.