Friday, January 2, 2009


Well, tonight was our first call to 9-1-1 for Kailey. I hope to never have to do it again. Let me just say at the outset - she's fine. But, we definitely had a bit of a scare.

We had just gotten home from a day of shopping and we were unloading the bags while Kai played on her mat in the living room. We were in and out of the living room - never leaving her for more than a minute or two. She was on the foam mat, playing happily. There was nothing visibly dangerous near her. And, yet, I walked in the room after a brief stint in the kitchen to find her noiselessly gagging and choking on the floor. "She's choking... she's not breathing" I screamed to Eric as I grabbed her and turned her upside down and started pounding on her back. I ran into the kitchen, while pounding on her back, and Eric grabbed her out of my arms and whacked her on the back and she started sputtering and crying. We were terrified. She was terrified. But, we thought we were OK. We listened for a minute and held her. She continued to cry, which was good. Crying meant she could breathe. We moved back into the living room, and suddenly she started gagging and gasping again. Nothing had come out of her mouth after the first choking incident, and clearly, it was still in her mouth. Eric turned her over and started pounding on her back again. She sputtered and cried and started drooling - at first I thought she was foaming at the mouth. She was crying hard, so we knew she could breathe again, but we were completely freaked out. Other than spit, nothing had come out of her mouth and so we knew she might start choking again at any moment. We didn't know what to do. She seemed OK, but we felt like we needed back-up. We decided to go to the hospital, but as we loaded her into the carseat, she started gagging again. We yanked her back out of the carseat and pounded her back some more. I was beside myself. We decided to call 9-1-1.

Calling 9-1-1 is a big deal. The next thing you know there is a fire truck, and ambulance, and a couple of cop cars in your front yard and 15 EMTs in your house giving you dirty looks as your 8-month-old smiles and coos and bats her eyes. She looked totally fine when they all arrived. We explained what had happened. And, in fact, while we were waiting for their arrival, we had actually gotten a glimpse of something in Kai's mouth. It looked like a small branch from the redwood tree in our front yard.

The EMTs were actually very nice. They shined a flashlight into Kai's mouth and the one examining her said, "yes - I see it. It's lodged on the roof of her mouth." Kai continued to smile and coo and look completely bewildered by the circle of men surrounding her. "Open your mouth" the EMT said. Kai clamped shut.

The thing was totally lodged in the roof of her mouth, and the EMTs did not want to stick their fingers in her mouth to try to fish it out. We moved Kai to her changing table to try to get a better look, but it didn't look like we were going to be able to grab the little piece of nature or convince her to spit it out. We were about to load Kai into an ambulance to go to the hospital (where they could use some kind of tweezers to get it out) when the EMT and Eric managed to get it out together (the EMT holding Kai's mouth open, Eric fishing it out).

Turns out it was a leaf from the oak tree. A jagged, sharp little leaf that looked rather painful. Oak leaves are sharp and sticky, and thus, perfect for sticking to things. Like roofs of mouths.

We felt a little sheepish for calling 9-1-1, but we were also incredibly grateful for the help and to have trained professionals on hand. As soon as they left, Eric cleaned the floors corner to corner with a vacuum, a mop, and wipes. Nothing like a little choking incident to get the house cleaned.

Thank goodness she is OK. Kind of an ominous way to start the new year. I didn't really want my first post of the year to be about a 9-1-1 call. Luckily, there was no real damage done.

This morning, we had a stream of neighbors stopping by to see what all the chaos was about last night. We still feel a bit embarrassed -- for all the ruckus, and for letting our baby get ahold of something that choked her. We have vowed to make sure we no longer leave her unattended on the floor - even for a brief period. There is no way to control the leaves coming in from the outside --- our house is completely surrounded by trees, so between us and the animals - it gets tracked in. But, we can make sure that we are with Kailey when she's on the floor, and in her crib if we want to do something else for a moment. Lesson learned.

No comments: