Up until these past two days, the scariest thing that I had been through with Mabel was falling down the stairs while holding her. But this weekend decided to scare me to the point where I thought I was going to lose my baby…
This post is going to be a lot of text, but there’s no way around it.
Let me start from the beginning:
Mabel and I were playing with the dogs and she was having lots of giggles over picking up pieces of dog kibble and taking turns letting the pugs lick it off of her hand. I was watching her like a hawk since the other day she decided to make a snack of the dogs’ food (yuck).
So after doing this for a few minutes, I picked her up to go back into the family room and she started to cry since she wanted to stay there. She let out a long cry and as she was about to inhale there was nothing.
I thought she was doing what she had done several times in the past, taking a few seconds before breathing in.
Well seconds were going by and she started turning blue…..very blue.
She wasn’t breathing. Her mouth was open as if she was trying to take in air but nothing was going in.
Oh my God, had she stuck a kibble in her mouth without me seeing it? Was she choking?!
I flipped her over and hit her several times with my palm in between her shoulder blades (thank goodness I had remembered what to do in case a baby was choking). But still nothing.
She was even more blue.
Thoughts were racing in my head: What do I do? Do I call 911? They’ll never get here in time.
I ran out to my front lawn thinking I could get a neighbor to help me. We have a neighbor who is an ER doctor and one who is a police officer. But just as my feet hit the grass, Mabel’s eyes rolled back into her head, she passed out, went limp and took a breath.
The sweetest breath. Ever.
Slowly she opened her eyes again and over the next few minutes she came back to her normal self. I was still shaking…and that lasted for awhile after.
I thought I was losing her and now she was back. I don’t think any parent is ever prepared for that.
After spending 4 hours in the ER last night, chest x-rays to see if she had inhaled anything, and Mabel freaking out since she should have been in bed 3 hours earlier the doctor told me that Mabel hadn’t choked but that she went through a Breath Holding Spell.
What’s a breath holding spell (BHS)? Without going into super detail, it’s when a child holds their breath until they pass out and then starts breathing again. About 5% of children will have a breath holding spell. The child has no control over the spells, it’s more like a reflex when a child is upset or crying. There is no way to prevent them (some have mentioned blowing in the child’s face but this did nothing for Mabel), no damage is caused and it can be fairly normal (you should see your doctor immediately if you think your child has suffered a BHS for the first time just to rule out other causes). Also, children tend to outgrow them by the age of 5.
What?! How come no one ever told me about this before?! I seriously had thought my child was going to die.
I at least felt better knowing that she was okay and hadn’t choked, but I was still semi traumatized over watching her turn blue and pass out.
The doctor also told me that this might be the only time that something like that happened or it may happen again. He told me that even his daughter had a breath holding spell when she was younger and it was probably the most scary thing he had to sit there and witness. Lastly, he told me that if it does happen again, I need to just lay her down and turn her head to the side. I’m going to hope that this was the one and only time it ever happens since I think witnessing all that made me age about 10 years in one day.
Just to give you an idea of what Mabel went through, I found a YouTube video that is very similar. Only difference is that Mabel turned more blue than this little boy and she didn’t cry before passing out.
*Even though breath holding spells do not require CPR or dealing with choking, I’m issuing a public service announcement: if you are expecting or already have little ones, please read this post from BabyCenter about what to do if a baby is choking and also how to do CPR on a baby. You’ll never know if you’ll need it but you’ll be thankful you read it if the situation arises. Infant First Aid and CPR.*
Has your child ever gone through a breath holding spell?