I need to share this. Last Thursday afternoon I was attending my husband's family reunion at my father-in-law's place in the woods. A 40 acre property with a pond 15 feet down from the back of the house. There is a staircase going down toward the pond where there is a small rocky bank.
My son Erik was playing with his cousins and having a great time. My husband and I were talking in the living room with my sister-in-laws and brother-in-laws. Erik ran in with a popsical he couldn't open. I opened it and told him to eat it in the kitchen. We continued our conversations.
Then sometime later my nephew went down to the lake with his mom to go fishing. About 5 minutes later my nephew ran into the room. He screamed that Erik was alone face down in the pond! I ran so fast, my flip flops came off, followed by my father-in-law and the others. I ran down the brick staircase and over the rocky bank in my bare feet.
The site I saw was my worst nightmare. My sister-in-law had jumped in to get Erik and pulled his lifeless body out of the water and set him down on the bank. Erik was blue and his body limp. My other sister-in-law helped with CPR. All I could do was to hold his blue lifeless hand telling him to fight threw my tears. A foamy substance came out of his mouth. Them they turned him on his side and some dirty water came out of his mouth. He opened his eyes, they were rolled up in his head so only the white part was showing. They kept talking to him he tried to talk but all he could make was a bubbly sound. He went in and out of consciousness.
The paramedics arrived then I collapsed on the rocky bank crying like I never cried before. Time seemed to slow down, my limbs were heavy, I had a hard time breathing. I could see Erik being put on a board with a neck brace. Then they carried him away to the ambulance. I tried to stand up but my body seemed heavy and it was an effort. When I was able to stand I fainted and my father-in-law caught me from hitting the ground. I cam too right away and they helped me to walk to the ambulance. I didn't know it at the time but I had cut the bottoms of my feet, on those sharp rocks at the bank, and I was leaving bloody foot prints in the grass.
I sat in my sister-in-laws car while a police officer asked for information. I became hysterical All I could do was scream over and over again, "My baby, I want to see my baby!" I was useless. My sister-in-law stayed with me and tried to comfort me as she bandaged my feet. The whole experience seemed like a surreal like dream. Time still was slowed down.
Then my husband came to see me and said that they were calling a helicopter to take him to the nearest hospital. All I could say was, "My baby, my baby!" Then he told me he was awake in the ambulance and told the paramedics what happened. Erik could tell them his name and age. Still my limbs wouldn't move the way I wanted them too. I shuffled my feet as I made my way to the ambulance. I got in and my Erik appeared fine. He told me that he went down to the pond to fill his water gun. The gun floated out of his reach and he went in after it. He tried to swim but he said the water kept pulling him down. He doesn't remember anything after that. Erik was so weak and it was a struggle for him to keep his eyes opened as he talked. I told him I loved him so much!
Then the helicopter approached and the sound of the engines got louder and louder. The helicopter landed on the front lawn. The pilot talked to my husband. I was in some sort of fog. I watched as the paramedics took Erik to the helicopter. I didn't feel my husband's arm around me, I was unaware he was standing next to me. He turned to hug me and I broke down again. He walked me back to my sister-in-law's car. He said that they were taking him to children's hospital of Philadelphia. He put my flip flops on my bandaged feet which were now covered in dirt and dried blood.
We took off in the car doing 90 MPH down the PA turnpike. As fast as we were going everything seemed in slow motion. It was like I was in my own little world for a while. Just before we got to the hospital I seemed to snap out of it. I could still feel the heaviness in my limbs as we made our way to the ER.
We were led by a nurse to where Erik was. When I saw Erik he was screaming as they were putting in his IVs. He had the oxygen nose piece on and his eyes met mine. I smiled and he said, "Hi mommy". Then they took him to X-ray. We sat in the lobby and all my husband and I just looked at one another. Then a nurse came by and told us they were taking him to intensive care.
When we got to the room Erik was in, we saw him fast asleep but his breathing was labored. Then the Dr. came in and asked us what happened. I went numb and when I tried to speak nothing came out. I started to cry again. I was useless again. For the first time I felt the guilt. I couldn't look anyone in the eye. I felt so bad, like I was the worst parent on earth. All I could think was,"he was in the kitchen eating a popsicel. No one was watching him, it's all my fault!" It ran over and over again in my mind slowly over taking me like poison. The nurse looked at me and said, "don't blame yourself." It was if she was reading my mind. "It doesn't mean you are a bad parent." How could she know what I was thinking? "He's a strong healthy boy, he's breathing without oxygen, that's a good sign." I felt weary, dizzy and sick to my stomach. I sat on the sofa. "You need to rest now," as the nurse handed me a pillow and a blanket. My husband was talking to the nurses and filling out the forms. I sat on the sofa watching Erik. I was there to calm him when they took blood, when he needed to go to the bathroom, when he was in pain. I dozed off for an hour and a half. I looked at the clock it said 4 AM. I was wide awake looking at Erik, my husband snoring away in the armchair.
Then they came in with a portable x-ray machine. Erik didn't like it one bit and cried and cried. Then when he saw me standing along side his bed he was instantly calm. Erik & I talked for a while. He told me,"I drowned in pappy's pond." I said yes. It was odd that he was so calm telling him all that he remembered. Then he said something I will never forget, "I tried to call you while I was in the water. I was missing you." I calmly asked him, "what happened when you went under the water?" He said, "I went to sleep." I felt like my heart was ripped out of my body, I got cold chills as I thought to myself, "Was he dead." Then I saw in my mind the image of his blue lifeless body being pulled out of the water. I felt like I was going to vomit. When I looked at Erik again he was asleep. Off an on through the ealry morning hours I kept at his bedside, helping him, calming him when the nurses came to do vitals, helping him go to the bathroom, holding the basin and he threw up. I was in mom mode.
Then I crashed I fell asleep on the sofa at 8 AM I woke up at 11:45 AM. Erik was awake, the nurse was there taking vitals. She told me that Erik made a remarkable recovery, the CAT scans, x-rays and lab work were all normal. Then the dr. came in and told me that his chest x-rays from the night before showed his lung full of water, and the second x-ray showed it had almost cleared out. She made it a point to tell me that it was amazing. I looked at Erik sipping on ginger ale. His skin now glowing and pink, his voice stronger and sounded clear. My husband entered with breakfast for me and lunch for him. Erik was able to hold down the ginger ale for a while and he had chicken nuggets for lunch. 2 hours after that we were on a way home. Erik, still exhausted for his ordeal, has fell asleep. I finally was able to smile again.
This experience still haunts me. Knowing that for a brief time in his short life that he was infact dead for a short time. He told me recently that he said he could see his body in the ambulance below him. It gave me goose bumps! In his own words, " When I fell "asleep" (when he died), I dreamed I was on a motor cycle with the Incredible Hulk (his hero) and he was giving me a ride. Then I saw my body from above in the ambulance. Then Iwoke up."