This weekend I learned a scary lesson about being a mom. It takes your full attention, 100% of the time.
I took Reagan with a friend and her two kids to the pool for the day on Sunday. We were all enjoying the beautiful sunshine and kiddy pool area. The pool had a gradual slope into shallow water, about 3 feet deep at the far end. It had a great water fountain and was perfect for Reagan to run around. She was having a great time, chasing my friend's three year old in and out of the water. Because he was three and she wasn't quite two yet, they were able to play well but he could navigate and stand in the entire pool, where Reagan could only go about halfway. Her exuberance to follow his every move required me to also stand in the pool so I could make sure she only played in the area where she could easily get in and out. And for the most part, she knew her limitations, a few times taking a face dive into the water but she was able to pick herself back up. I knew sometimes she would try to go in too deep, but I was watching her play. It was fun, we are all laughing and having a great time.
I had also brought a few water toys, some of which floated on the water and when abandoned by the kids they were pulled into the pool's skimmer. At one point I turned around to dig out a toy from a skimmer. I grabbed a little scoop we had also brought in order to avoid the gross bugs in the skimmer's basket and triumphantly pulled out the lost toy! When I turned around Reagan was face down in the deep section of the pool. I grabbed her from only a couple feet away and quickly set her on the pool edge. She coughed few times and took a couple big breaths but was unhurt. She didn't even cry at first, just held onto me. My heart was racing, my mind a mix of relief and fear. I thought about drowning, and dry drowning and all the other stuff I had just read this week. Was she OK? How long had she been under? What should I do now? How terrible of a mother am I? Brain damage? Lungs full of water? She quickly picked up on my anxiety and the fear gripped us both. I held her tight for a long time and covered her with kisses, so thankful she was not injured.
After a few minutes it seemed she was ok, her only lasting effect was being a little scared of the water. I sat down with her at the pools shallow water side and snuggled her close. I was over run with emotions about how scary that had been, how quickly it had happened and how much I could have lost. My friend, who had been standing right next to the skimmer when I was fishing out the toy, tried to calculate how long I had been turned around. 30 seconds? 1 minute? I couldn't remember, it felt like only a short time but was I distracted longer? After a call to my mom, who is also a nurse, she assured me Reagan would be OK. She explained if she had been under for more than a few seconds she would have coughed much more. But she had only sputtered a couple times and then caught her breath easily. She was now breathing fine, talking and behaving normally.
Reagan slowly got over her water fear with some encouragement from me, though even a few hours later she was much more hesitant in the pool. That was fine with me, the kid had been fearless before so a bit of hesitation and the urge to hold my hand was not a bad thing. We stayed to swim for several more hours, with both kids returning to laughing and running around. I brought out a picnic lunch and everyone tried to relax back into a fun day.
I beat myself up a bit later that night. Especially when I told my husband what happened. He was obviously angry. The truth is everyone gets distracted, but I should have done a better job watching her when I knew she could over do it in the water. No excuses, this could have been avoided. I am just thankful that I was right there and turned around when I did. My story has a happy ending and I am sure similar situations have not. Through the night that followed Reagan woke up several times crying and I couldn't help but worry that she was having nightmares about what had happened that day. No doubt the incident was scary for her too and now I feared those feelings lasted for her. I comforted her best I could and prayed equal parts thankfulness she was OK and she that she would forget the scary moments.
We have a big job as moms, I am in charge of another person's life. I am responsible for her and I need to take that more seriously. Yes, the pool can be fun but my priority has to stay focused on her safety. It was a small mistake to turn around, but it is something I am determined to learn from. Heed this mother's advice and make sure you don't take chances with your child's safety. This summer I have been really trying to give Reagan happy days. Watermelon in the shade, chalk and bubbles, kiddie pools with water slides, fun in the sun. But I also need to make sure I am safely letting her enjoy the warm weather. Yesterday, I made a scary memory but I hope to out number them with many more happy memories by summers end.