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Thursday, June 3, 2010


I've been looking for some diversity for Gabe. He's got a long summer ahead of him and all he really wants to do is sleep and play video games. Mmm, yeah, that's not going to work.

Well, I found some diversity tonight. I scheduled an infant and child CPR class for him and I to attend. It was time.

The thing is that Gabe was right there, literally the first one on the scene. He found Christian in the pool. He also witnessed his mother completely loose it and that had never happened prior to that day.

While I attempted CPR on Christian it was Gabe who dialed 911 and talked to the operator. My poor little man who's been through so much was able to be stronger than me. I'm ashamed of that because I should have been the strong one. I should have done a lot of things.

Anyway, to my surprise, he didn't protest when I informed him of our impending date a few weeks ago. So we headed out to the same hospital where both his brother and sister were born, which happens to be the same hospital we lived in for the two weeks while Christian was in the PICU.

I thought this would be a good idea for him because, in general, it's probably a good idea for everyone to be educated in CPR. I also thought it might help him to feel more secure.

I wanted to go for myself because at the time of Christian's accident, it had been ten years since I had any training in CPR. And things have changed since then - compressions and breaths and the like.

We attended the class and learned up to date compression to breath ratio. We practiced on dummies and watched detailed videos. But I have to say a few times I felt anxiety. I don't like that word but I felt a little uneasiness about it. Mostly because I was applying what I was learning to what I should have done.

Now, this is a warning that I'll be mentioning a few details from that day. So if it's just too much, I understand. Just stop reading right here.

I should have started compressions right away.

I should have used more force when performing compressions.

I should have remained calm.

I should have continued with compressions and breaths without stopping to scream.

I tried the best I could remember. I saw him gasp and I thought Finally! It's working! But then nothing happened. He just laid there. I gave him more breaths than were necessary because it was helping the water out of his lungs. I didn't know. I also learned in the class that the gasps aren't breaths, but they are reactions to the heart stopping. Again, uneasiness.

I remembered things I had buried like the way his cold skin felt when he laid lifeless on the tile floor. I didn't understand and I couldn't make sense of what was happening. This kind of stuff didn't happen to us. How could I have let this happen? God, please don't take him. I screamed it. I screamed, Oh, God!

I remembered that I reacted as if he had choked on something. I scooped him up off the floor, turned him over, and hit him between the shoulder blades like they show you to do in these classes when something is lodged in a baby's airway. It seems pretty ridiculous looking back. Nothing was making sense. All that time I could have been performing CPR. Maybe it would have helped. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference. I guess it doesn't matter now. But performing compressions and breaths on a dummy about the same size as Christian with the same pale colored skin tends to jog one's memory.

And I remembered how scared Gabe must have been. It was like a bomb went off. Or like the floor in our house caving in and swallowing up our safe little, uneventful life. It was terrifying. I scared him, I think.

So I was really hoping that this CPR class was some kind of gift to him. Besides telling me he was hungry and that his thumb hurt during the class, he seemed to be as attentive as any 11 year old boy could be.

We talked about the class and the day of the accident in a very matter-of-fact manner in the car on the way home. That's where Gabe is comfortable - in matter-of-fact-land. He was glad he went because he could maybe help other kids that might stop breathing. I told him that maybe if I'd known CPR better, things may have been different and he said he didn't think so. Like a wise old man he said he thought at the time Christian couldn't have been brought back with CPR at the scene because the paramedics couldn't even revive him at the house. I've heard Gabe tell his black-clothed, skateboarding, hat backwards wearing friends with a little pride in his voice, "That's my brother...that's the one. He's the one who died and came back to life. He's doing better but he has to learn everything all over again..."


Who made this kid? Oh yeah, he's mine. Wow!

By the way, I'm looking at that same baby who was cold and lifeless on that tile floor almost a year ago. He's snuggled up right next to me breathing in and out slowly as he sleeps. I touched him and his skin is nice and warm.

If you're interested in taking CPR classes, contact your local hospital (ours offers these classes as part of there parent and mom to be education courses) OR contact your local Red Cross to get certified.


Anonymous said...

Shawna, you continue to be so brave! When I read that you and Gabe went to cpr class, I immediately thought, "not yet." I was also in the position of trying to do CPR to my mom, while she lay dying, I fumbled through it, horribly, I thought the gasps meant something was working, but it wasn't. My husband gave me the orders from the 911 operator, it wasn't enough but we found out nothing would have been. That helps a little, but my mind still wonders. I know I need to go, for my family and my children who may need me someday. I just feel like I might have a breakdown at the class. It's been almost 4 years, still can't do it.
I bet you feel so good today.
Gabe sounds like such a great kid.

Lots of hugs,
Tracey (Aug '08 group)

Alicia said...

I am so glad you and Gabe were able to take this class. It seems like an important step in the healing process as well as something everyone needs to keep brushed up on. I don't think I could have done compressions and breathed into that dummy without running screaming from the room, the memories being too much.

I was breathless while reading your details from Christian's accident. I continue to marvel at you and your courage as you walk along this journey. You inspire me. Seriously.

Eliisa said...

It doesn't surprise me at all that Gabe is such an amazing kid. He has you as a mother, after all. You continue to astound me with your strength and love for your family.

WhitneyBooze said...

Oh Shauna,
Thank you for sharing something so personal and so painful. Yes, you were amazingly brave to go to the class, and you should be awarded for taking Gabe.
I KNOW the pain you feel. I held my baby, screaming for the paramedics to hurry. I fumbled with CPR. Guilt is a horrible thing.
We have our angels.
We hold them safely with us today.
And we continue to try our hardest to give them the best life we possibly can.
You are a fabulous mommy.
Hugs - Whitney

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