Over the last three years I’ve shared a lot about my life and my kids in this blog and column.
Much of it, thankfully, has been pretty happy – exciting news about the birth of my second kiddo, the crazy antics of my spirited and silly nearly 5-year-old son, pictures of fun adventures… you know, the picture of perfection.
I have not shied away from sharing the “real” though – the real tough. The real “ugly.” I’ve talked a lot about the impact of the way too early loss of my dad to cancer, about my struggles with anxiety during my high-risk and difficult second pregnancy, the not-so-glamorous side of breast-feeding, the “joys” of digging through diapers to find a swallowed coins, Owen’s delays with development and our battles with some difficult (yet typical) toddler/preschool behaviors.
Today though… just typing these things out are difficult. We aren’t talking about happy, sad, “ugly” or real. Terrifying.
My son nearly strangled himself yesterday.
Obviously, at less than 2, Owen didn’t intentionally do it. But it still happened. And my husband, who was home at the time, and I are still shaken by it. Late morning I got a call from him while I was at work. Normally unflappable, my cool as a cucumber husband was breathless and sounded tearful. My aunt had offered to take Miles for the day to a movie and out to lunch and he and Owen, nearly 2, were home alone.
Owen had been up for much of the night before so when he fell asleep on Michael’s shoulder that quiet morning – we don’t get many of those when his rambunctious brother is around – Michael wasn’t surprised. He took him to his room and laid him in his crib with his baby doll and “lovey” – two items he’s come accustomed to sleeping with the last several months.
About 10 minutes later Michael heard him whining a little. He wasn’t really crying or anything. And this isn’t anything too out of the ordinary. He often does this fast asleep, just a little whimper. And even if he does wake up, he typically falls back to sleep on his own within a minute or two and we don’t go back into his room.
But Michael said something was tugging at him, urging him to go into Owen’s room to check on him. He ignored it at first, sat himself back down on the couch after standing up and walking toward Owen’s room. But the urge was really strong so about 20 seconds later he got back up knowing he wouldn’t be able to relax if he didn’t go in there and check on him.
So he did.
Michael opened the door and saw Owen laying there with a string from his blanket wrapped around his neck 15-20 times. Somehow it had gotten loose from his blanket – something I assumed was safe for him to have now that he was nearly 2 – and he’d managed to get tangled up in. It wasn’t super tight but it wasn’t exactly loose either. He had to go grab a pair of scissors to cut it loose.
Owen is fine – thank God. There were a few marks on his neck, probably from Michael trying to get the blanket off. But we can’t stop thinking about it. Michael especially. He can’t shake that image, the “what if” from his mind.
What if he had just kept ignoring that little whimper coming from Owen’s room? What if he’d ignored that instinct he’d had that something wasn’t right.
Who knows what would’ve happened if he hadn’t listened to that overwhelming, uncontrollable need to go check on our son. I certainly can’t even think about it, let alone dwell, on it.
So, here’s the terrifying.
We’ve had some freaky parenting moments. We’ve had plenty of happy ones. Our fair share of frustrating and gross and tearful and overwhelming and many other colorful adjectives. Even some scary ones.
But terrifying… that word is reserved for the truly, frightening. And folks, it doesn’t get too much more frightening than that.
Lessons learned – our nearly 5 and 2 year olds will now be 40 before they are allowed to sleep with anything, our instincts are everything; LISTEN TO THEM!