Leah Porritt’s three-year-old daughter had just taken a bath.
As Cafe Mom reports, Porritt shared the heart-racing events that unfolded after leaving her daughter in the empty tub to pick up her toys.
In a post on her blog “Out of the Nutshell,” Porritt described what started as a very ordinary scenario. She wrote:
Actions and routines we’ve done a million times before.
Porritt had walked out of the bathroom to dress her younger son when suddenly a very quiet noise from across the hall sounded suspicious. Porritt wrote:
Something did not register right in the noise. It was a noise but too quiet of a noise. Loud is always a good sign with kids. Quiet is not.
Porritt walked into a frightening scene:
She was hunched over in the empty tub, her arms and hands extended in panic, her head thrust forward and mouth open. The noise coming out her open mouth was too quiet.
The little girl, who moments earlier had reassured her mother, “I almost done cleaning up Mama,” was choking:
I grabbed her wet body and flipped her over, hitting her back. Again and again. I stuck my finger in her mouth and felt nothing. I could see the distress on her face and it confused me. I knew she was choking but on what? The bathtub toys were not small enough to fit in her mouth. She doesn’t even put toys in her mouth. She never has, even as a baby.
Her lips were blue.
With her little girl’s body in her arms, Porritt ran out of the house, screaming.
I ran. I ran with my naked, wet daughter belly down on my arms. I ran without shoes. I shouted to my little boy “stay right there, Mama will be back,” and I ran.
I screamed. I screamed louder than I’ve ever screamed. I ran and I screamed; out the front door, across our lawn, across my neighbor’s driveway and up the stairs to their front door. I screamed and ran because I knew I needed help. I screamed and ran because I didn’t know where my phone was and I needed someone to call 911. I screamed and ran because I needed someone to save my little girl.
I’m going to lose her.
Porritt’s neighbor “Ms. T,” who also happened to be the children’s daycare provider, opened her door for the frantic mother. “I think she’s choking, she can’t breathe. Please help me,” Porritt said.
As I fell forward, Ms. T caught my girl in her arms. Her feet were white. Her lips were blue. Her noise was too quiet.
It took one more pound on her back and the toy flew out. The toy that was not a bathtub toy. The toy that I didn’t even know was in the bathtub. The toy that my 3 and 1/2 year old had played with dozens of times and had never once put in her mouth. The toy that somehow went in her mouth and lodged itself in her throat. The toy that almost killed her.
She took a ragged breath and started coughing. The beautiful peach color flooded back into her feet and lips. She looked at me and started crying. I grabbed onto her small, trembling little body with all I had.
I didn’t lose her.
Although her daughter recovered, one thought has remained in Porritt’s mind ever since: “I could have lost her.”
Porritt called herself “lucky” for having neighbors with life saving skills and for recognizing the utterance from the tub was not normal. Porritt acknowledged how easy it was for the situation to have had a tragic ending:
It could have been longer before I realized what was happening. My fear could have caused my body and mind to freeze; a very possible bio-mechanical reaction. My amazing neighbor could have been gone. All of my amazing neighbors (neighbors who are former EMTs and firefighters) could have been gone.
The mother’s hope is her terrifying ordeal motivates other parents to become certified in CPR and first aid, two areas in which Porritt shared she is now becoming certified.
As she wrote:
Not every parent is lucky enough to have a neighbor who has 35 plus years of child CPR and first aid training. Not every parent has a firefighter or former firefighter living across the street. Not every parent lives in a neighborhood with a fire station down the road or first responders who can arrive quickly enough to save the life of their choking child.
Not every parent has CPR and first aid training that would allow them to save their child’s life.
Not every parent, including me.
Porritt never wants any parent to experience her trauma or for any parent to have to use CPR, writing in part: “But I hope that you know how to, if you do.”