The Scariest 3 Minutes and 9 Seconds of My Life

I think we can all acknowledge that mothering is hard work and being 100% PRESENT 100% of the time is even harder, but I can tell you that there are times when it’s so important and can literally be life changing.

As we all spend time at the beach, by the pool, or at the lake house this summer, let’s remember to put down the cell phones, set aside that magazine you’ve been dying to read and tell your mommy friend that you want to continue your conversation by the water’s edge instead of in those comfy, shaded lounge chairs.

And here’s why…

Memorial Day weekend 2015, I was alone at the pool with my 2.5 year old son, enjoying the last few hours before we had to head back to the reality of school lunches, after-school play dates, and some of the “blah” tasks we all may dread. As expected, my son couldn’t swim at 2.5 years old, so I put those trusted arm “swimmies” on his arms and laid back in my lounge chair to soak up the sun. A few minutes later, he finished his solo swimming, so he took off those trusted floating devices and started to dry off. I thought, “Oh man. Time to go home.” However, he then said, “Never mind. I want to go back into the hot tub for a minute!” The same hot tub I had spent all weekend telling him he couldn’t go in because there was not a clear view inside the water due to its elevation and vegetation surrounding it.

However, today was different because it was just him and I there and nobody would distract me from him today. So, we made eye contact, him looking for approval from mommy, and I said, “It’s ok today. You can go in”. And I sat back to relax for “just one more minute”.

And then it happened.

It was suddenly "too quiet". I was startled back into reality and I called out for him.

“J, what are you doing?” Nothing.

I yelled louder, “J, WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”

And that’s when I looked down and realized his trusted swimmies were sitting on the ground next to me.

You can imagine what those next 5 seconds it took for me to get to the top of those stairs were like as my brain was providing so many other explanations for the silence, even though I KNEW what I would find at the bottom of that hot tub. And sure enough...he was there.

I will spare you the details of all I saw, how he felt and what I was feeling and seeing, but I will tell you that there is ONE THING that saved his life that day… this mommy knew CPR.

Now, I had taken CPR classes several times as a teenager and young adult, as I was a lifeguard, swim instructor and competitive swimmer, spending 40 hours/week at pools. But I never imagined ever having to use what I learned on my own child because I was a lifeguard, swim instructor and competitive swimmer, and I would never let that happen on my watch! Shame on me for thinking that this could never happen to me: a hands-on mom, the one who has it all together, who used to teach people how to swim!!

It was 3 minutes and 9 seconds that I was human. I was distracted. I was not 100% present with my kids around the water. It DID happen to me. It DID happen to my child. BUT, luckily, I was there to give CPR while another pool-goer called 911.

I knew the steps to take to help save my little boy’s life! Now, did I do it exactly “by the book”?? I don’t know and I don’t really care. But I do know that I needed to get him oxygen and we needed to get his heart beating! So, I did it with the help of an amazing angel who happened to be at the other end of the pool that day. She did the chest compressions and I breathed life back into his little body, remembering to look for his chest rising and falling like it should-- the sign that you have a solid seal on his mouth. I was praying for him to cough, spit up water or make a noise because if he would do that, there is a chance he might live to turn 3 in a few months.

My husband and older son had heard my screaming and were now watching all of this transpire. I will never forget looking up at their faces and seeing sheer panic and fear in their faces and feeling so SORRY for allowing this to happen. I knew that I had to do everything I could to bring J back to us.

And fortunately it worked. He was life-lined to the ER and spent two days in ICU before being released as if nothing had happened (kids are amazingly resilient). But, I will say this. Not all moms have such luck with their little ones, as drowning is the leading cause of injury related deaths among children ages 1-4-- about TEN A DAY for children up to age 14!! This Mama will never forget. Daddy and Big Brother will never forget. And I will share my story a THOUSAND times if it helps someone else realize that 3 minutes and 9 seconds could change your life and those around you forever.

Let’s spread the word to, first, be PRESENT when your kids are playing around water, even if they can swim. Second, get CPR certified. You never know if it will “never happen to you”, but if it does, you want to be prepared. It could save the life of someone who is most dear to you. J is now 3.5 and lives life like nothing happened. I, however, have taken a little more time to get through what happened and the guilt I carry around following this big event. BUT, sharing my story and knowing that others are getting CPR certified for that “never happen to me” moment helps me heal.

If you live in the NYC/North NJ Metro area, I know a guy who can help you, your spouse, your child’s caretaker and group of moms be more prepared. I had never met him prior to this event, but my healing journey began when he provided a CPR class for a group of local parents who heard my story and wanted to be better prepared themselves. His name is Jason Mundy from NYMetroCPR. He is now a friend and a real life-saver and I’m sure he would be happy to help you.



Jen is a wife and all-in boy mom of two. She lives in Hoboken and works from home as a team builder and confidence builder for women across the globe, with the help of a little platform we call social media.

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