Many people have the “Bay Watch” image of drowning in their head. In fact that is not what drowning looks like at all. Please take the time to read this article, it could save a life. http://mariovittone.com/2010/05/154/
This article hits me hard as I read it. I wish I had read this two summers ago. It could have saved me from one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had, my daughter’s near drowning.
It was a beautiful summer day with nothing but blue skies. we were at a friend’s place enjoying their pool on a stiflingly hot day. My 15 month old in arms, and my 3 1/2 year old swimming with water wings, we were having a great time splashing and playing. As it started to cool off, we started coming out of the pool, firing up the barbeque, and getting ready for dinner. There were about twelve to fifeteen adults on the pool deck, and my two children.
My sister and two friends were in the pool and I was standing at the pool’s edge talking with them. If we were to be concerned about anyone if would have been our 15 month old, Taivus. He was an early walked and braver than he should be. I could imagine him just walking off the edge into the pool. My husband, Mike, was on guard, hovering over him to make sure he didn’t fall in. Leilani, 3 1/2 at the time, was less of a concern. She was the type of kid who was always at our side. Never walking off on her own and she always followed our instructions.
Mike turned his back on the pool for five seconds as he chased Taivus behind the pool chairs. When he looked up, he saw something, but didn’t know what it was at first. He remembers vividly his mind trying to make sense of what he was seeing but disbelief kept him frozen. Not five feet away from the people in the pool, our daughter was floating in a vertical ‘T’ position, arms outstretched, eyes glassed over, mouth open, floating silently. Not a kick, not a scream, not a splash. No gasp. No sound. Mike started running, yelled ‘Leilani’ and leaped into the pool before I could even look up long enough to process what I was seeing.
I will have that image forever etched in mind; my daughter floating and my husband in mid-air, the moment before he hit the water to pull her out.
He pulled her out and the life came back to her eyes. You could see them fill with the realization that something was wrong. No crying, no screaming for mommy, just understanding. She still wasn’t breathing, but you could see that she was trying. Moments felt like forever as she struggled and eventually coughed and vomited a stomach full of water. She coughed some more and then sat silently on my lap until the paramedics arrived.
The paramedics checked her and we went to the hospital for an assessment and 24 hours of monitoring. Thankfully her lungs were clear as the reflex is to take water into the stomach first and constrict the airways.
I think what happened was that she was feeling really comfortable in the water with her water wings and forgot that she had taken them off. Or maybe she was reaching for something, and just stepped off the last step of the pool.
This can happen to anyone and even right before your eyes. Please take the time to read this article http://mariovittone.com/2010/05/154/.
After reading this article I realize that the summer before having kids my husband almost drown in front of me also. Thankfully the person who was with us recognized that he was in aquatic distress (as he did not vocalize that he was having trouble) moments before he likely would have entered the instinctive drowning response.
Please also research “Dry Drowning.” This is when water gets into the lungs, as little as tablespoons, which could happen any time kids are playing in and around water. They don’t have trouble in the moment, but can drown later in their sleep. Most people don’t know about this, but we all should. Please share this with everyone. It will save lives.