Nine Months More

Within Arm’s Reach

It was a day like any other day. We had just celebrated AJ’s third birthday and PJ had turned one. I was at home with both boys. PJ had settled down for his afternoon nap upstairs. Peace and quiet settled over the house, as AJ became my little afternoon shadow.

We wandered into the study, me on the computer and AJ stood next to me playing with his toys on the desk. Within arm’s reach he raced his little car along the glass surface. Within arm’s reach he crashed his little car into a stack of pencils. Within arm’s reach he stopped. Silence. He grabbed my arm. Within arm’s reach his face was turning blue. Within arm’s reach my son was choking.

Adrenaline rose to my throat like petrol. I grabbed him, turned him around and started to hit his back. With the other hand I fumbled with my phone and rang 000. The instant I heard a voice, I yelled out my name, our address and then screamed “my three year old son is choking.” With that, I dropped the phone.

The study is right near our front door. I dragged both of us into the entrance way, opened the front door, knowing an ambulance was on its way. I kept hitting my son on his back.

In those moments, the house melted away. The two of us were in a large vacuous arena. A crowd surrounded us. On one side white, solemn angels stood with their heads bowed down. Their hands were clasped in prayer, a feint melancholy of song coming from their almost silent stand. The other half of the crowd was a snarling, evil sea of black and red. Spitting and cheering for death, the demons barbarically watched the scene with enthusiasm and gall.

In the middle, I was the gladiator.

In my mind was the echo of the first aid course hubby and I attended after we had AJ. “Keep hitting their back, hard and consistently, between the shoulder blades. Do not attempt to dislodge the item with your fingers. Just keep hitting their back. With each hit, a little air is going in.” It was that tiny gasp of air that would be trickling into AJ’s lungs that kept me going. Smack. A little trickle of air. Smack. Another trickle of air. Smack. More air.

I said a silent prayer. Please God don’t let my son die. And then, mid stroke I heard “Mummy look, it’s out!” AJ bent down to pick up the tiny black USB cover that had dislodged from his throat. I looked into his deep brown eyes and collapsed on the floor, out cold.

On the cold, hard tiles I came to. AJ was hovering over me, worry and fear in his eyes “Mummy ok?” I just grabbed him and hugged him so tight, in disbelief that we had done this. I had done this.

Within Arm's Reach

The greatest fear of any parent is losing their child. It is moments like these that we are tested most. I held in my hands the body of my son, being shaken with death. To this day my hands tremble with the memory. While we shower new parents with gifts of pastel pink or blue delights, the one thing we should give is the gift of First-Aid. It surpasses any pram, crocheted blanket, or toy. For without the knowledge I had gained from that course, I can’t say with confidence that my son would be here today.

Life is a heartbeat, pulsating in staccato. In a moment it can be gone.

 Have you ever had a close call?

Caring for Kids is a first-aid course run by St. John’s Ambulance, especially for parents, grandparents, carers in the child care industry and members of the public who may be entrusted with the care of babies and children. 

  • Leanne Shea Langdown

    OMG Josefa! That’s so scary!
    It is also so well written. I was with you every step of the way with that one.
    So very glad it all turned out ok. You truly are a gladiator. And so’s your little man.
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  • LydiaCLee

    How scary!! Glad it came good in the end.

  • Oh my, that’s my worst nightmare Josefa! You are right, we should all be trained in first aid. I still haven’t done the course – what am I doing? My nephew nearly drowned a couple of years ago, and it was only because his dad knew CPR that he is alive. Thank you for sharing this. xx

  • Housewife in Heels

    So fortunate you were there and had the training to be able to save him! I haven’t done a first aid course, although one of my closest friends is a Doctor and has schooled me in how to respond to such emergency situations. Perhaps I should actually do the course. So happy there was a happy ending for you x

  • It one of those terrifying moments you never wish on anyone. No close call just yet, just a record playing of ‘what did mummy say not to touch!’

  • bodyandfeetretreat

    Wow – I have goose bumps reading that post – what a close call that was – and it happened so quickly !!
    I’m so glad that it all worked out in the end and you are so right – a first aid course is much more useful than any material gift that we could give someone.
    Love, hugs and positive energy !

  • How terrifying for you. Glad you knew what to do and saved your son’s life. This post gave me chills…

  • Michaela Fox

    Josefa, what a horrible experience to endure, but you tell it with such courage and compassion. It sounds like you handled the situation with a very level head. I doubt I could think so clearly in such frightening circumstances. I had an incident when Miss A was about 12 months. She reached into my cutlery drawer and happened upon some chopsticks. Distracted, I didn’t notice her taking the chopsticks out of the kitchen, but as she did she tripped and fell onto the chopsticks which missed her eyeballs by a millimetre. It grazed her eyebrows and bled and she was distraught but it could have gone through her eye and I was very shaken afterwards. Note to self: put safety locks on kitchen drawers!

  • Oh how scary for you! 🙁 I guess mother’s instinct just kicks in and adrenalin starts surging. I haven’t had a close call with my kids (touch wood) but I had a choking incident with my hubby, that was scary enough, with me trying to dislodge the piece of garlic bread he swallowed. All ended well, but it was terrifying.

  • OMG, Josefa. I have tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my arms.Thank you for this wake up call. I haven’t done a first aid course, but need to. I must! Thank God your darling little boy was okay. You did so well handling the situation with such courage. A lovely photo of you both too xxoo

  • Oh Josefa. How awful. So good that your first aid training kicked in but I can’t even begin to imagine the fear and horror you would have felt. Wow. Losing a child would be so totally unimaginable. You are right, we need first aid knowledge, should be mandatory at prenatal classes.

  • TwitchyCorner

    Oh how intensely scary. So glad it turned out the way it did for you both!
    This happened to a colleague while she was eating fruit at the desk. I returned from reception and passed her at the moment she started grasping and turning red. I rounded her desk and was about to begin slapping her on the back when she coughed up the piece herself. Same with my husband once and food again. Horrible seconds- just horrible.

  • Too scary! I am so glad I read a happy ending on this one. Xx

  • I hope I never had to experience that 🙁 I have done a first aid course but it was about 4 years ago, time for a refresher me thinks! Such a great public service post Josefa 🙂

  • I did the caring for kids course after Bridie, but should do it again. She was about two weeks old, and I was bathing her. I flipped her over on my arm, to sponge her back, but didn’t realise her head has slipped and fallen into the water. It would have only been seconds, but it was so terrifying.
    Ava choked on a coin she found as well not that long ago. That was awful.

  • Pip (@melbournelass)

    Powerful writing Josefa, because it’s written reliving the ultimate fear and with so so much passion. They say children are resilient but at the same time they are so fragile. Thank goodness his story had a happy ending. yup, a paramedic talk was the first thing we went to when she was a wee bub. Just for peace of mind (but I think you always know accidents can happen) x

  • Without a doubt the best advertisement for first aid courses I have ever read. Thanks for sharing your very real story with us.

  • Emily Morgan

    Oh. My. God. My worst nightmare. And I’ve done two first aid courses! I’m still terrified! Thanks for sharing.

  • Sophie Allen

    Oh my goodness! How incredibly scary for both of you. Your writing style is so powerful and you retell even a terrifying story in a beautiful way Josefa.

  • I felt like I was there watching over you but couldn’t help! Every parent should read this – if they did, they’d be signing up for a first aid course pronto! massive hugs for you. I think I am trembling from your story also. xo

  • Oh how scary and awful for you Josefa! I’m glad it ended up okay though. I remember being shown a film when I was in primary school – maybe grade 3 or 4 – of somebody choking and it frightened the living daylights out of me. I think they were trying to teach us about the dangers of choking but all it did was give me nightmares!

    #teamIBOT was here!

  • Chantel

    That gave me chills!!! So glad it had a happy ending – it’s amazing how quickly things can change isn’t it! We did a baby first aid course before Z was born, but I think we need a refresher!!!! Xxx

  • Oh Josefa what a hero you are! This is an incredible & powerful piece. I held my breath while reading – I am so sorry it happened but in awe of your response & reaction.
    A stark reminder of how fragile life is & how important our responsibility as parents is to keep up to date with first aid training – we can’t protect them from everything but we can put measures in place to give them the best possible chance.

  • Kristin Mamacino

    Josefa, wow – what a powerful story and reminder of how precious our beautiful children are x

  • Kathy

    So glad AJ is Ok. You have captured so well that moment of extreme panic when the world freezes in that fear – I’ve had a couple of heart-stoppers. You are so right that first aid is an essential as well as the most important gift you could give new parents.

  • Alicia-OneMotherHen

    Oh my gosh, how powerful. I wouldn’t wish this one anyone. Thank you for posting this, those words, “keep hitting their back” which I do, and which seems to come instinctively, could very well save the life one day xx 🙂

  • Grace

    Oh wow, Josefa. What a traumatic experience. Thank you for reminding how important it is for parents to do a first aid course.

  • Nicki Grech

    I never want to go through what you did. Absolute horror. Although I have been scared a couple of times, with both boys, and yes choking was involved. There is not a worse feeling of seeing your child in pain or suffering. I have never done a first aid course but now you have me thinking…

  • Rita

    Oh Josefa, this is so scary… You are so right about the gift of first aid. I’m so glad your story has a happy ending.

  • Holy Crap – I am sitting here cold with shock and tears are pouring down my face. How awful for you, how truly AWFUL. Thank God the angels won and your little man is still with you. I cant even imagine…. I dont want to imagine xx

  • allyt

    Yes. A choking one too. I still have nightmares about it
    I think first aid courses should be part of the ante-natal courses

  • Josefa, I think I held my breath through your whole post, how awful for you!! But, thank goodness you kept your head together until your little man was safe. x

  • Two Guardian Angels were working over time!
    We had a near miss last friday with a head and an electric car window….horrible horrible horrible.
    Thank God for GA’s. xxx

  • crazyspeedylove

    I just read this post and I didn’t realise until I finished reading that my entire body was so stiff, shoulders to ears, tense – until I read the last words and it was like my whole body just relaxed and a weight lift with relief. I feel sick thinking about it! I couldn’t imagine!

  • Oh my … what a horrendous experience. Well done you for handling it so well.

  • Your beautifully written, agonisingly felt post brought back the worst kind of memories for me Josefa. 2 years old, a piece of lodged apple, the world stopped turning. Within arms reach. Luckily we were all okay as well. x

  • Josefa, what an awful experience! Such a beautifully written post, though

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