Of Carter and the Peach (or on days like this I think I deserve a medal just for making it through)

I am still not sure what alerted me that something was wrong.  It must have been a small noise he made or a change in his movements.  I was in the kitchen cutting up a hot dog (of all things) to add to our lunch of mac and cheese.  Carter was sitting at his spot at the table, his back to me, eating canned peaches.  Canned peaches!  I almost lost Carter at lunch today because he choked on a bite sized piece of canned peaches.

I went over to him and saw that he was not able to swallow or spit or cough.  There was saliva oozing out of his mouth and his lips were moving but there was no noise.  I do remember from my first aid training, about four years ago, that if a person appears to be choking but is making airway clearing noises that you should just let them be.  Watch them but let them be.  Carter was not making noises.  I pushed his chair back and tried to gently squeeze in and up on his chest, just below his ribcage but nothing happened.  He could not breath.  I don’t know the sequence of what happened next.  I took him from his chair and pounded his back, I squeezed him.  Hard.  I even stuck my finger down his throat to try to make him throw up (God, should I have done that!?).  At one point I ran to the phone and picked it up but then had the realization that 911 could not help – they were too far away.  His eyes were open but he was like a rag doll in my arms.

It was awful and I am still very shaken by it.  Carter was choking and no one could help him but me.  And I didn’t know what the hell to do.  I pounded his back some more, feeling like I was about to lose it at any moment, seriously lose my shit.  I remember chanting calmly to him to throw up, to spit it out, to cough.  And then he did.  The peach shot out of his mouth and hit the floor.  He took a breath and with a tear forming in the corner of his right eye, he looked at me and asked me why I had been squeezing him so hard.

At this point my entire body sagged and started shaking.  I let out a deep breath and I hugged him and just kept hugging him.  After he squirmed out of my grasp we examined the offending piece of fruit on the floor.  Carter called it a “bad peach” and I have to say that I agree with him.

The offending peach bite

Then the what ifs start going around in my head. What if he had not coughed? What if he did not start breathing? What if I had not been in the room and had not seen that he needed help? It is not uncommon for me to give the boys a snack while I go to the bathroom or go outside to refill the bird feeders, or fold laundry or a million other things. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t just give them food and wander away all the time, but I do sometimes. Cody is six and Carter is four; I have kind of stopped worrying about them choking on things and started worrying more about them being abducted by random pedophiles. I think I stopped cutting their hotdogs horizontally about six months ago. Carter loves grapes and we do have a rule about sitting down when eating them but I haven’t cut grapes up for him in a very long time.

Not ten minutes after the choking incident Carter thought that maybe he wanted to eat some more peaches.  My throat working again, momma.  My first instinct was to say no.  I said yes so as not to give him a life long fear of canned peaches, but you can bet I cut those suckers up so small you almost needed a microscope to see them.

Carter and the Peaches take two

Here is some interesting information I found in an article from the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Choking is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children, especially those aged 3 years or younger.
  • Choking on food causes the death of approximately 1 child every 5 days in the United States. Hot dogs accounted for 17% of food-related asphyxiations among children younger than 10 years of age.
  • Other high-risk foods include hard candy, peanuts/nuts, seeds, whole grapes, raw carrots, apples, popcorn, chunks of peanut butter, marshmallows, chewing gum, and sausages.

I have two questions for you:

How long has it been since you last took a first aid class?

How much of that first aid class do you really remember?

I am off to look up first aid classes offered in our area, perhaps you should do the same…

Oh, and as a side note, I think that when I first realized that Carter was seriously choking, I should have called 911.  If the peach would not have become dislodged, it would have been that much longer before help arrived.  It is better to look like an idiot and have help arrive when you no longer need it than to call for that help when it is too late.

About Shoes

I am an elementary school teacher, a former microbiologist, a mom to a herd of two boys, and a grilled cheese sandwich and beer connoisseur.
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37 Responses to Of Carter and the Peach (or on days like this I think I deserve a medal just for making it through)

  1. Sugar Snap Me says:

    Holy crap. I read that in 30 seconds and my heart is RACING for you. I have taken CPR/first aid as a requirement for my Massage license. It’s been a while, though and although I have a cheat card in my purse, what I really need is a refresher. Also went to the child prep class before popping out the boys, and for some reason all i can remember from it is to flip them upside down and smack them on the back. I think that has a window of age/time though.

    • shoes says:

      It was pretty frickin’ scary! Both Husband and I were required to take an general CPR/first aid class at the hospital before they would sign the release papers after both our boys were born. I don’t know if this is a Washington thing or because both our boys were preemies but it was not a very good time to take in extra important information and retain it. I think the flip upside down and smack is for infants because I tried that and he was too heavy and big to manage.

  2. Alex says:

    omg! I had a mini heart attack right now. So, many scares have happened with my son that I literally felt like I was right there with you. I am glad he is ok though!

    • shoes says:

      You and me both! Now I am more than a bit freaked out to even feed my kids. We have never had a choking scare before so I felt very out of my element. I am beyond glad he is alright.

  3. Oh my gosh – what a situation – thank goodness everything turned out all right

  4. Oh my goodness, how horrible for both of you. I cab’t even imagine how scary that must have been. I’m so glad it worked out in the end – and you’ve definitely made me go back and review my first aid course! Sending a hug your way!

    • shoes says:

      Carter has told me he was not scared at all but that he did not like that he could not breath. He told me that he remembers me telling him to just breath and that I squeezed him a lot. I need to find a refresher course for my first aid training, so far they are all about $60 and in the next town over from us. If I can’t find anything local then I guess that is what I will need to do.

  5. Mona Lisa says:

    I’m sitting here with goosebumps and a tear in my eye 😥 Thank goodness you and the little guy are okay!!!! My heart goes out to you!

    • shoes says:

      I could not stop shaking for quite a while after. It is just so scary how things can turn from blah normal to life threating. And really who chokes on a peach? I was completely caught off guard.

  6. Mother’s intuition at it’s finest!!

    Well done. Well done.

    • shoes says:

      Thank you, although I don’t know if any of my back pounding, squeezing, finger down the throat really helped. There was just this pause when I did not know what else to do and out came the peach.

  7. Oh and as a NYC cop… We get the “we don’t need you anymore” calls all the time. They are the best kind. Never… EVER! hesitate to call 911… You do not look silly.

    • shoes says:

      And you don’t know how much I LOVE and appreciate this comment! I hate thinking that I am bothering the 911 response team with some silly thing. I have called them twice at home (and more than that while on the road) for Cody’s seizures. All but one time his episode had ended and there was not really much for them to do. But it does make me feel better knowing they are there.
      I really try not to be the ultra paranoid mom type but sometimes I can’t help myself…

  8. So scary! I haven’t had first aid training in probably 10 years. My youngest is 4 and I totally thought we were past the choking hazard phase. So glad everyone is o.k.!

    BTW – when my middle one was about 3, she choked on a Lifesaver. My hubby seriously stuck his finger down her throat and made her throw up. I’m sure I would have done that, too!

    • shoes says:

      Me too – I have not given the whole choking on food thing a second thought. Carter quite often zips by the kitchen, grabs a baby carrot, and zips out. No more – every snack will be eaten sitting down.
      The finger down the throat thing make me worry that I would trigger vomiting but that the peach blocking his throat would make him choke on the vomit. I don’t know it that makes sense or not but it is what was going through my mind at the time.

  9. ktlee says:

    So, so scary. Glad all is well, and I agree, that WAS a bad peach!

  10. What a scare! I haven’t had CPR training since before my 16-year-old was born but I always think about it. A few years ago I started choking on a piece of licorice and my then 14-year-old had to slap me on the back and eventually I spit it out. I vowed them to sign the whole family up and I still haven’t. Thanks for the reminder. I’m looking up classes right now.

    • shoes says:

      I wonder how many adults choke and die on food. If one child in five days in the US dies from this, the number for adults must be more since we tend to eat “unattended” or alone more often. I will have to look it up. I am glad your 14 year old was there to help you.
      So far I have not been able to find a refresher course offered in my town but I will track one down somewhere close – it is too important not to.

  11. averagechildhood says:

    I went through my son choking on a candy- doing the Heimlich and SCREAMING for his grandma to call 911. (she couldn’t hear me). I was lucky and it came out, but I was really shaken up.

    • shoes says:

      Wow, that is pretty scary. I am glad you kept your wits about you and it turned out alright. I just don’t thinking about the boys choking on anything due to their age but I guess I need to keep it in the back of my mind and be prepared for it just in case.

  12. mimijk says:

    Whoa – what a nightmare! My heart was in my mouth as I was reading this…Good job mama and thank God Carter was able to get that bad peach out of his mouth. I can only imagine how long it took for you to stop shaking. Is it wrong to fix one’s self a drink at lunch time??

    • shoes says:

      LOL! I seriously considered having a drink with my mac and cheese lunch but waited until evening when the boys were in bed.
      Poor Carter – now anytime he eats anything I am there to remind him to “Chew, chew, chew!”

      • mimijk says:

        I’m sure that over time you won’t feel the need to repeat that – but I sure as heck don’t blame you for invoking that reminder now!! Even if there’s nothing in his mouth!! (just kidding)

  13. Oh Shoes Brandon and me were JUST talking about this!!! Holly used to choke on everything including rice cereal!!! Def one of my biggest fears. I mean it doesn’t scare me to watch them around water(I’m a fish) or any other things like that but man choking…so many things can go so wrongly in such a short time.

    I’m so glad Carter is ok and that you’re ok too!!!Love you my friend!

    • shoes says:

      His choking was actually worse to deal with than Cody’s last couple seizures. With the seizures they stop, or they don’t and I give him medicine rectally to make them stop. He is not at risk of dying from them but with choking, man oh man, you have to clear that airway or there is all sorts of badness.
      This parenting thing is pretty darn difficult! When Husband came home from work (I had told him what had happened over the phone) I told him “Well, I managed to keep both our kids alive today!”

  14. The Waiting says:

    I’m so glad Carter is alright!

    Now, off to sign up for a first aid class.

    • shoes says:

      Man, one minute you are making lunch and the next you are trying to remember how to give your four year old the Heimlich. This is not the stuff parenting classes or books can prepare you for!
      I take it you were not required to take a first aid class when Miss C was born? We had to before we could leave the hospital with them. I am not sure if it is a WA thing or because they were preemies.

  15. muddledmom says:

    That is scary! So glad everyone is OK. I have often thought the same thing, should I go take my shower or wait until the kids finish their snack? Even an adult can choke. I was home alone once and almost choked. I grabbed the phone first. All I could think was, is this it? Will it all end like this? I got it. 😉 So sometimes scary experiences make us aware and mindful. Thanks for the reminder to brush up on our skills.

    • shoes says:

      You are so right about those scary experiences making us aware and mindful – I haven’t thought about the risks of choking for a long time. Now it will be on my mind for quite a while.
      Your choking story about yourself is pretty freaky. We all are not really all that far away from death, one moment to the next. Morbid, I know, but it does make you think (and look into first aid classes!)

  16. mommysaidaswearword says:

    This scares the hell out of me. My daughter choked on a pringle the other day at her grandmother’s house. Thankfully, grandma was swift with the scooping finger, but it terrified the F*ck out of me and I still can’t give her chips (which might be a good thing since chips aren’t the healthiest of snacks anyway…). She choked 4 times that week and I had to sit her down and have a “slow down and chew, chew, chew!” talk with her.
    I am so, so glad he coughed.
    Now I’m sweating.

    • shoes says:

      Yeah, I sound like a frickin’ train at the table now with all the chew-chew-chewing.
      A pringle and a peach, is there anything they can’t choke on? I did the scooping finger and there was nothing there to get out, it must have been far in his throat. I am getting all stressed out just thinking about it.

  17. Nancy says:

    OMG, how terrible. This is one of my biggest fears; having one of my kids choke on something and not being able to do anything to help them. I took First Aid, but I should really take your advice and take it again. I swear I remember almost nothing from the course. And in a panic situation where my brain freezes, I’d be useless. It’s terrifying to even think about it. I’m so glad Carter is OK. I hope you’re Ok, too.

    • shoes says:

      In a panic situation my brain freezes up too but for some reason my body reacts and stumbles through the appropriate actions. I am still pretty freaked out about it and would rather I did not have to feed him, but of course I do. 🙂
      After a quick internet search I could not find a first aid course in my town, but our local YMCA has classes on it every couple months. I will take that one but am still hoping to find something sooner.

  18. Hetterbell says:

    I’m so glad Carter came through the experience alright. It really does sound like it was very frightening for both of you. Well done for getting him through it. 🙂

    • shoes says:

      Thank you. It is something I hope we never have to repeat. He brings up the peach from time to time when I remind him to chew well before swallowing, so it must have left an impression on him.

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