It took 4 minutes for life to change. Four minutes for everything to be turned upside down and life to be balanced so precariously on the edge. So many things lined up in perfect uncanny unison. Moments that, by themselves were nothing. But when they accumulated together, they amounted to a whole heap of terrifying bad luck.
On Tuesday a dear friend of mine almost lost her little boy. He almost drowned.
Thankfully, and blessedly, he is ok.
She has asked me to blog her story.
On holidays in a massively popular local caravan, she had spent a couple of weeks as a family in the picturesque location. Sun, sand, beach, river and hundreds of people enjoying it all. A caravan park where people visit year after year, generation after generation. You know everyone, and everyone knows you. The kids run around in flocks of screeching madness, watching over one another. The big ones watch the little ones, and the little ones follow the big ones. They eat each others food, share each others bikes and go swimming with each other’s families. Communal living at its finest.
I visited my friend on the Sunday. Sunday is when the ball was set in motion. My friend had moved camp sites. For two weeks they had been where the main caravan village is, near the toilet blocks. But on Sunday she had to move. And they moved to a beautiful spot under a tree. Her husband was returning to work, and taking the caravan home. The rest of the family was just going to stay in the tents.
I loved visiting my friend. The kids ran off to play in the mud on the river bank, others played totem tennis, and the wee ones stayed on our laps, or in the tent asleep. We admired the kiddie pen set up to contain the baby whens she could not watch him, and commented on how much the big girls were watching the wee boys. We laughed and joked around and had a blast commenting on how great the campsite was.
She was coming home on Wednesday so we organised for us to join her at the house Wednesday night. Life however threw in a curveball Tuesday afternoon. The two big kids had gone home to Gran’s because they were going to be a hindrance with packing up. Easier with just the two wee boys by themselves. Easier to watch over just the two of them.
On Tuesday at 4.04 she awoke to the baby and the little boy. Afternoon nap was over. In their own tent, it is always zippered from bottom to top, but in this tent – a borrowed tent – the zipper went from top to bottom. My friend thought nothing of it. The boys chattered happily and as happens with an exhausted mama, my friend fell back asleep.
At 4.08 she awoke again, bolt upright. The tent room was silent. Every mother knows that silence. That lack of noise that rams dread down your throat. She ran from the tent towards the water, and the wee brother comes towards his mama. “Baby is swimming mummy”. My friend runs to the water, ignoring the voice in her head that says “that cannot be real”, and lunges into the river, grabbing her baby boy into her arms.
She screams for help. But the banks of the river are empty. Another strange moment in this tale – the banks of the river are never empty. Everyone is always fishing. Always playing. Always there. Not at 4.08 on this day. On this Tuesday, there is no one fishing, or rowing their boats. Just a little boy in the river.
His mother screams for an ambulance again as she drags him to the banks. A couple on the footbridge see, and the man starts calling on his phone, his wife running towards a mother blowing life into her child. People are coming out of their tents. Finally, there are people on the edge of the river.
The ambulance is on the way. Baby boy is conscious, barely. His mummy keeps talking to him, nose to nose. “Stay with me baby boy”, willing his eyes to remain on her. The crowd help warm him, and they wait for the lights and sirens.
They are loaded quickly into the back of the van and take towards the closest hospital, only to get there and get sent straight to the bigger hospital. Lights and sirens the whole way. A mummy holding her child, while leaving the wee brother in the care of the caravan community.
Paediatricians look him over and keep him in over night. He is ok. HE IS OK! Mummy screams it from the rooftops. Family are reunited, the wee brother finally comes in and sees that Baby Boy is alive.
Baby boy is OK. Lungs clear.
My friend keeps pinching herself. So many small things. The changed camp site. A tent door that did up at the bottom instead of the top. The bigger kids not around. No one fishing on the banks of the river. A mother falling back to sleep. Just small moments. Leading to one big one.
This beautiful mummy had just recently renewed her first aid certificate. Specifically on little babies and children. She knew what to do. She never dreamed she would have to use it. She is a child care worker who needed to have these skills for work.
But really, so should mothers, fathers, nannas, grandpas, aunties and uncles, sisters and brothers. You never know when you are the victim of a series of unfortunate little moments.
CPR Printables and Videos:
CPR in Babies under 12 months: http://www.abc.net.au/parenting/parenting_in_pictures/cpr_babies.htm
CPR in Newborns and Babies – Video: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/baby_cpr_video.html
CPR in Children over 1: http://www.abc.net.au/parenting/parenting_in_pictures/cpr_kids.htm
CPR in Children – Video: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/child_cpr_video.html
Water Safety Services: