Late Night Trauma

Hubby and I have just had a rather harrowing experience. All of this story is true, and I’m writing this a couple hours after it happened, with all of the facts in order as we determined them later. We were at a friend’s house playing board games, when suddenly there was a panicky pounding at the door. The homeowner answered the door and we heard “Call 911! My baby isn’t breathing!”

Our friends’ neighbor had come over in a panic because her 8 day old daughter was having trouble breathing. The neighbor had been breast feeding, when suddenly the baby started struggling to breath. When the neighbor first walked in the door, the baby was bright red and limp as a doll. We were all shocked, and unsure what to do. Travis, one of the homeowners, called 911 right away, but had issues with cell service. He calmly kept after it and reached them, giving them the address and situation concisely.

Over the next few minutes, it became evident that the baby was having trouble breathing, not “not breathing”. The baby momma was a mass of panic. She kept pounding the baby on the back, and saying she wasn’t breathing even though she was crying continuously. She kept flipping the baby from her back to her stomach, and asking us (all childless) what to do. Several of us told her many times things along the lines of “The EMT’s are almost here”, “She’s crying, that means she can breath”, and other reassuring things. None of this seemed to sink in. She kept saying “Please, help me”.

It was a really sad situation, and in a way I wish I could have reacted better. I did go over to her and try to sooth her, rubbing her back and telling her that if the baby can cry it means she can breath, and I don’t really know what else I could have done. We were in a position where I felt my friends were “in charge” since this was their house and their neighbor, but the woman was not listening to reason, and was completely flipping out, disproportionately to what was occurring.

The EMTs arrived quickly, and she stood on the porch and beckoned to them. None of us can figure out why she didn’t run over to the ambulance. It was nice weather, they were only across the street, and it’s a cul-de-sac, so there was no traffic. The only explanation for any of her actions is that she was panicked out of her mind. It turned out the baby’s nose was stuffed with snot, which was causing the breathing problems. After the mom gave her baby to the EMTs, she came back into the house holding one of those snot sucky things they give you at the hospital when you first have a baby, and retrieved her cell phone. That’s right, she carried her cell phone over to the neighbor’s instead of calling 911 herself.

Here’s the other thing; her 2-3 older kids (one of the 3 boys that followed her around might have been her nephew or something) followed her into the house we were in, and were trying not to cry. This is perfectly acceptable for their age. I only bring this up to point out that this lady has had at least 2 other babies, and must have dealt with stuff like this at some point. I couldn’t even have a younger sibling without learning that kids hurt themselves, and you can’t panic about it. You have to fix it now, and let yourself be upset later.

The whole thing was stunning and bizarre. Looking back now it’s easy to say that I could have done this or that, but honestly I was scared to. I didn’t know what was wrong with the baby, I haven’t had or handled any babies, especially that young, and (shameful as it is) I did not want to be held responsible if something went terribly wrong. It became evident after a few minutes that the mom was going overboard, and wouldn’t listen to anyone talking to her, but the baby was probably okay.

We (and when I say “we” I mean Sara) did at least try to entertain the three boys who were probably between ages 5 and 8. I think it was completely ridiculous that their mom was flipping out like this in front of them, totally disregarding what they were dealing with. And to have raised at least 2 boys without severe injuries and yet be completely ape-bonkers? This is the other kicker: the neighbor on the other side has multiple children about the same age as her boys. Why go to the house with the twenty-something childless couple when you know your neighbor on the other side has kids? And why not just call 911 yourself in the first place? (She used the phone later to call her husband/baby daddy, so we know it was working).

Overall, I kind of wish I had acted differently, but I honestly don’t know what I could have possibly done. It was evident fairly quickly to all of us childless people present that the baby was crying, so therefore was able to breath. The mom had one of those sucky things to remove all the booger stuff that was choking the baby, and she knew she’d been breast feeding, so there was no chance she swallowed something solid. She should have had plenty of experience with babies already, and had access to a neighbor who also had plenty of experience (at least 3 kids’ worth) that she could call on. She had her own phone to call 911.

Again, all of this being said, I am not a parent, so I have no idea what kind of horrifically blinding fear was running through this woman. Everything turned out okay, so in the end it’s a moot point. I hope I never have to be that scared for a child of mine, but I also hope that I’ll be able to react more rationally than this woman did.


March 8, 2012. Tags: , , . Random typing.


  1. Phuongie replied:

    She probably didn’t want to be alone with the baby in case something awful did happen and wanted company to reassure and be with her. She probably also didn’t want to get caught with the ambulance bill.

    • thatcleverchick replied:

      I can understand not wanting to be alone, but I would have gone to the neighbor on the other side that actually has kids. But she might just be horrifically stupid, I’m not sure.

  2. mywildhood replied:

    I don’t know what I would have done. I’m not even confortable holding a baby that small, much less trying to figure out why it’s having trouble breathing. But what happened to the motherly instinct? I agree with you – usually it’s the first child that makes the parents freak out, not the third. By the third kid, parents are supposed to be all “(s)he’s fine. Just a little blue. (S)He’ll get over it.” Wird experience. Sorry you had to deal with that! Ha! I’m not even good when my friends are crying, much less a perfect stranger. Yep, you did better than I would have.

    • thatcleverchick replied:

      I’m also terrible when friends are crying! I’m all “Uh…I’ll go get you a sandwich!” We got back to playing our game eventually, but, yeah, weird is the only way to describe it.

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