It is my great privilege to introduce a guest blogger, our precious, ‘Ms. Carrie’. This woman spent years training, feeding, cleaning, praying for, cuddling, and loving my children. From the first day we dropped off our fat, round 10 month old Charlie Jo, to the last day I dropped off Nora and Graham… She was essential to us. An incredible gift in the midst of a tumultuous, joy-filled season of child-rearing. I am so grateful for her, so tangled up with her… Forever.
And then we got to the point in the day when it all happened.
Every half hour I would make the rounds and check on them – cover them back up, rescue a loved stuffed animal that had made it’s way to the center of the room and make sure all was well. That point in the afternoon had arrived when I could hear the kiddos starting to stir. Random voices and the thud of them standing up in their pack n’ plays and then plopping back down. I crept down the stairs and scooped up three of them, folded their blankets, whispered for them to go upstairs and go potty and reminded them to whisper because some of their friends were still sleeping.
Three of my pack n’ plays lined the wall right next to the stairs, the middle one was Graham’s. It was unusual for him to still be sleeping because he was always one of my first ones up. Standing at the end of the pack n’ play, little fingers clamped onto the fabric covered top and making a large drool mark. He would catch a glimpse of me and grin from ear to ear because he knew I was coming to rescue him from naptime and he was going to get some animal crackers and a bottle.
But that afternoon, he was nestled into the corner of his pack n’ play, on his tummy and had his face up against his blue blankie. This was how he slept, he would bury his face in his blue bankie and Kristin and I would always find remnants of blue fuzzies stuck to his cheeks and in the little rolls in his neck. I placed my hand on his back and made gentle circles across his tiny frame to wake him up slowly.
Three circles. Four circles. Nothing.
I lifted the blue blankie up away from his face and it felt like a flood if ice water just rushed through my veins. A gasp that you only hear when something life altering occurs flew out of my mouth. His face was a pale blue. I lunged over the side of the pack n’ play and grabbed him up.
Now there are parts of this experience that are clearer than others and this moment is one that my body can just go back to in an instant. The motion of thrusting my hands up under his armpits and turning him towards me mid-air and then having his little body arch back limply over my left arm feels like five seconds ago. His heavy head flopped against my hand in between my thumb and the rest of my fingers and I looked at this face that was so perfect, but wasn’t.
Graham, GRAHAM, GRAAAHAM!!!!!! It was a frantic yelpy scream as I bounded up the stairs.
I flew into my kitchen, with Graham’s head cupped in my hand and his little face in my neck, where it had always been…that would be the last time it would be there. I laid him down on my kitchen floor, hand on his forehead, two fingers under his chin, tilted it up and put my ear down over his nose to see if there was any breath at all. His face was warm, but there was no breath. I placed my right palm down on his chest and began to pump up and down. One-and-two-and-three-and-four…..tilt the head back, two breaths, watch the chest rise and fall. Those countless CPR classes feeling more valuable by the millisecond.
Why isn’t anyone coming?!? Wait, you haven’t called them yet! I lept up and grabbed my cell phone off the counter, frantically keying in my pin and dialing 9-1-1, put it on speaker and continue pumping. It rang! And rang…and rang..and rang…and rang…and rang…Why isn’t anyone answering?!
“911, Do you need police, fire or ambulance?”
After a pause that felt like a lifetime, a woman’s voice came on the line and asked for my address and what the emergency was.
“I went to pick him up from his nap and he’s not breathing! He’s not breathing!!! Graham’s not breathing!”
“Are you performing CPR?”
“Yes! Are you sending someone?”
“Yes, they are on their way right now. Keep pumping and breathing and I’ll stay on the line with you until someone gets there.”
Twenty eight-and-twenty-nine-and-thirty. Tilt his head, two breaths, watch the chest rise and fall. Over and over. Tears gush down my face, choking sobs and blurts of, “Graham please! Breath! God PLEASE!! GRAHAM PLEASE! GRAHAM!”
The voice on the phone came back calmly, “Carrie, you need to stay calm for him. You need to focus on what you are doing. You are doing great.” Then I heard a little gurgling sound – rolled him onto his side and a little trickle of his milk spewed out, but that’s a good sign!
“Are they coming?! What’s taking so long??”
“They are almost there, is your door unlocked?”
“No!” I rush to unlock the door and on my way back to Graham, I see them, the three little ones I had sent upstairs to go potty, Nora… leaning over the back of the couch, looking into the kitchen. They knew something awful was happening.
“Why isn’t this working?!? He is warm! His chest is rising and falling when I breath air into him! Jesus why isn’t this working?!?”
It felt like one of those stationary bikes that was connected to a light bulb and as you began to pedal the light would begin to flicker on and off and as you got to your max speed, the light would beam brightly. I was pedaling at 100% but Graham’s light wasn’t turning on!
There was a brisk knock on the door as it burst open and the paramedics rushed in. Thank you GOD, they are here and they are going to work their magic and save him. There were two of them, the man scooped Graham up and began blowing into his little mouth and the woman asked a few simple questions. Little did I know that would be the last time I would have my hands on that sweet baby, if I would have know, I would have kissed him and nestled his head into my neck one more time. I remember reaching up from my spot on the kitchen floor, grabbing her arm, “He’s going to be fine right? He’s going to wake up right?!”
“We are going to the best that we can, little guys are tough.”
I pleaded to let me ride with him to the hospital because I KNEW he was going to wake up. He was going to wake up and he was going to be scared because he had never seen those people before. He needed me to be there when he woke up.
But no, he had to ride alone.