Don’t Hold Your Breath

Søren at Twin Lakes Beach, Santa Cruz, California
Søren at Twin Lakes Beach in Santa Cruz, California

This story takes place on August 17th, 2013. It was a pretty average day, just after breakfast. I was cleaning up the kitchen and Søren really wanted to play in the garbage can. He kept lifting the lid up and I would tell him no and shuffle him away. He is always a very persistent child and that day was no different. After redirecting him several times with a, “It’s yucky.” And a few flat out no’s, he shoved his arm into the garbage can again and I gave him a very firm NO and sent him along on his way. He followed me into the hallway and started to throw a little tantrum. He laid himself on the ground and I turned my back. He cried and his voice cracked, very normal for him, but then it got quiet. I knew something was wrong. I went to him and his face was blue, lips purple. His body was lifeless, heavy, and limp. It was like holding a dead baby in my arms, my baby.

My mama bear instinct took over. I screamed to Steve to call 911 while my mind raced to figure out what was wrong with him. Immediately I thought that perhaps he was able to get something out of the garbage and was choking on it so I turned him upside down over my knee and gave his back a few hard hits. Nothing. Again. Still nothing. I turned him back upright and started sweeping his mouth with my finger, nothing. Again I swept as deeply as I could and he gagged and inhaled. I breathed a deep sigh of relief as he let out a cry.

I canceled the 911 call and immediately called his pediatrician. I was informed that this was called a Breath Holding Spell and not to worry, he would pass out and wake up fine. They told me some signs to look for to determine whether or not he needed medical treatment and made it sound like it was something that was common with babies and toddlers. I still can’t believe that I have a ten year old and had never heard of this. It’s really funny that they say not to worry, I don’t know any mama in their right mind who wouldn’t worry if their child was limp and not breathing. I wish that someone had told me before, “Hey at some point in time your kid might forget to breathe!” because perhaps then I would have known that all I had to do was to blow in his face to get him to take a breath. I only learned this after a few google searches and some reading. I haven’t shared this incident much, but I feel like everyone should know. Even people without kids, so they can help if they are ever witness to this. To say that this was one of the most scary moments of my life would be a huge understatement. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

To follow up, Søren was fine at his following well-check appointment, and has been fine since. It hasn’t happened again but there were a few times where we have blown in his face, for fear of a reoccurrence. We even trained Aiden to do it, in case we aren’t there in the heat of the moment.

I don’t ever ask that you share my posts, but please share this post or at the very least, the information. It should be very common knowledge for all parents.

8 thoughts on “Don’t Hold Your Breath

  1. oh my! I can only imagine how scared you were! I’m glad it wasn’t something serious and he is doing fine…I’ve heard about this before, but never what you are suppoused to do if it happens so thanks for sharing this 😉

  2. That is terrifying! That is one of Birdie’s main things to do while having a tantrum, she has always held her breath. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t a more common thing.

  3. Oh honey, I can not even imagine what you must have been going through at that moment.
    But I must say, for me, the two quarters that were lodged in your throat were terrifying for me.
    Blue (purple) lips and limp body. I did every thing I could, until fingers down your throat, twice, finally
    got them out. Absolutely terrifying! I will never, ever forget that moment. As you know, I still have both quarters.
    I love you!

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