Tuesday, April 12, 2011


With a family of 4 young kids, it's a wonder we've made it this far without any serious injuries or sicknesses.  I can count on one hand how many prescriptions each of the kids have needed, they've never had ear infections, no broken bones, and only some minor scrapes and bruises. 

It was bound to happen, then, I guess. 

Gen was playing quietly on the floor when Richard noticed her gagging.  He yelled for me (I seem to be the designated scooper of stuff in the mouth) and on seeing her face, I knew it wasn't just an ordinary pick the lint out of her cheek occasion.  I fished my pinky into her mouth and found nothing.  I pried open her mouth and peered down her throat and saw nothing.  Meanwhile, Gen was an unhealthy shade of red, her eyes watery and repeatedly gagging.  I flipped her over and, her head down, whacked her between the shoulder blades like they taught us in First Aid.  Nothing.   So we called 911. 

It probably only took them 10 minutes to get to our house, but it seemed like a very long time.  The only way we could keep Gen from gagging was to hold her head down on her tummy.  Even then, she retched every few seconds.  She was screaming one second and silent the next as drool and mucous streamed from her mouth.  This was not good.

The ambulance finally got there and I carried her into the back.  We rode, tense, as Gen screamed and screamed.  The paramedic radioed in that she wasn't able to get any vitals.  Terrible choice of words, since that was interpreted as "not having vitals" instead of "in too much of a fit to properly listen to her heart and breathing". 

At the hospital, we were met by a nurse who quickly checked her breathing.  They didn't seem too concerned until Gen started choking again at which point half a dozen nurses came out of the woodwork and busied themselves over my baby.  They suctionned and x-rayed but found nothing.  Richard joined me, and I could have cried with relief.

A couple hours later, Gen had screamed herself to sleep in my arms.  No amount of coaxing could convince her to nurse, but with her breathing settled the doctor sent us home with the assurance that she had probably swallowed whatever it was and would be back to normal soon.

She wasn't.

The next morning, she was obviously in a lot of pain.  She'd cry, gag, cry, and drool massive amounts of spit and snot.  She was definetly not okay. 

I made the decision to bring her back to the ER when suddenly she gave a great heave and for the first time in 12 hours, looked at me clear-eyed.  She was chewing on something!  I scooped her mouth and there, in her cheeks, waiting to be re-swallowed was a plastic snowflake.  A stupid, party confetti, plastic snowflake. 

And she's been A-1 since. 

I thank God that that snowflake had ragged enough edges to get stuck in her esophagus and not slip into her larynx.  I thank God that when we were sent home, she didn't aspirate the flake in her sleep.  I thank God that it scared me so much that I didn't put her down the entire morning until she finally coughed it up, allowing me to catch it before she re-swallowed it.  I thank God for my little girl. 


Andrea R said...

Oh Emilie, how scary. :(


Avital said...

That is so terrifying. My oldest bit a plastic party cup and choked on some pieces that came off. I had do flip him and whack him, and he continued choking and we rushed him to the hospital. He ended up swallowing the pieces, but they did x-rays to ensure they were all swallowed. It's so terrifying to see your baby choking like that.