Motherhood Firsts: The Medical Emergency Edition


I’ve often thought there should be badges to commemorate certain motherhood moments – The first time you get peed on, the first time you catch vomit in your hands, the first time you reach into a little pocket and pull out something unidentifiable and squishy. And then there’s the badge no one wants to get, the one where you call 911 for your child’s medical emergency. That happened to me just last month.

Picture a beautiful weekend afternoon. The weather was finally warm, so I filled a water table and wading pool and placed them in the shade of the house. My two daughters splashed and played happily while I sat in a camping chair beside them within arm’s reach of the 9 month old, snapping pictures for a #sundayfunday post. And then without warning, the baby went limp and began to slump forward. I grabbed her before she could sink into the water and pulled her into my arms, completely confused. What was happening? Was she choking? No. Was she breathing? Yes. Was her heart beating? Yes. But, why wasn’t she responding? Did she need CPR? I had no idea. I called to my 3.5 year old to get my phone, and for once she complied immediately. Heart pounding out of my chest, I dialed 911 for the first time in my entire life. “911, what is your emergency?”

While I was still on the phone with the dispatcher, the baby began responding and acting normally again. By the time the EMTs were evaluating her, she was cranky and ready for a bottle. They said while everything looked fine, it wouldn’t hurt to go to the ER and have her checked out there as well. Since she was stable, my husband and I were able to take her in our own car. On the drive there, I tried to breath and rid myself of the lingering fear and panic that felt like a boulder sitting on my chest.

As the ER doctor examined my now normally acting child and tried to determine whether something was really wrong or if I was a paranoid mother, I began second guessing myself. Should I have even called 911? Did I panic unnecessarily? What is the right thing to do in a situation like that? I am the type of person who likes to be as prepared for a situation as I possibly can. Before my first daughter was born, I read everything I could. I took a million classes at our hospital from child birth to baby care. I learned how to do the Heimlich on a choking baby and toddler. But in this situation, I had felt totally unprepared.

A few days later a wonderful doctor at our local children’s hospital gave me concrete instructions for how to handle any future situations of this type and assured me that the situation would not be life-threatening and wouldn’t warrant a call to 911 except in extreme circumstances. Armed with the knowledge to support my daughter should the situation reoccur, I felt that panic boulder begin to shrink.

Because of our experience last month, I have a strong desire to learn more about first aid and CPR for children so the next time we have an emergency, whether a broken bone, a bloody gash, or loss of consciousness, I know what to do, if nothing else while we wait for the EMTs to arrive.

*Medical details omitted to protect the patient’s privacy.


  1. That is such a terrifying ordeal! We had two of our kids require surgery at just around a month old. Both times, we had to push to have the doctors believe that it was something serious. And in the case of the second child, we were told that what happened with our first didn’t “run in families” so the likelihood of it being the problem with our second was nil. Except that it happened. I totally get the second-guessing on calling 911, but you totally did the right thing. I am so glad that your story had a happy ending! And knowledge is totally power.

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