what i want you to know about children and drowning

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Sarah.Photobucket

I have always been a bit paranoid about kids and water. Chalk it up to my life experiences, when I was young my best friend's sister died from drowning. In my line of work I have taken care of many children permanently brain damaged from near drowning experiences. So I have vowed to be extra careful around my kids and water.

I put my children in swimming lessons as soon as they are allowed to go into the water on their own. Not one class per year, but two or three, It is a bit of a pain but I really want my children to be strong swimmers. They have to wear life jackets around water, even if they are just playing in the sand. I will not allow them near water unless there is at least one adult for every two kids.

And still, my child almost drowned. It happened when we were on vacation. We spent some time in the spring going down south, renting a house with a pool in the backyard. We all swam in the morning and came out for lunch. After lunch my husband took the baby inside and left me and my friend's husband with four kids, two three year olds and two five year olds.

We were both sitting on chairs facing the pool. I was reading a book and looking up every few minutes to make sure everyone was okay. Which they were, happily playing in the grass. The next thing I know, I hear a strange cry and look up to see my friend holding my daughter.

I did not realize at first the extent of what happened; my friend simply said that she was in the water. But I quickly became worried. When I went to get her, her skin felt cold and her toes were blue-ish. She was exhausted, and when I put my hand on her back I could feel the crackles in her lungs. She would answer our questions but we had to fight with her to keep her awake.

My husband and I decided to take her to the emergency. On the way there our insurance company told us they would not cover the cost. I remember getting to the hospital and the nurses were asking me about her allergies and thinking: JUST CHECK HER OUT NOW!

Thankfully her chest x-ray was clear and our normally cheerful and energetic daughter began to perk up. And so ended the scariest hours of my life to date. On the drive home she was happily singing her favorite song, one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard! (Even though she got both the lyrics and the tune wrong!)

We figured out what happened later. My husband had taken off her life jacket for lunch. Neither of us thought she would go into the pool on her own, although for some reason the fact that she did not have it on did not register with me. Maybe because she was playing on the grass, not next to the pool. What we did not realize was that she thought she could swim without a lifejacket on. There was a toy floating in the pool that she wanted to play with, and she walked in.

The scary part is that she did not make a sound. She walked in quietly. She struggled quietly. There was not a single splash. She did not cry out. She was less than 10 feet in front of my nose, and there was another adult sitting facing the pool and yet another adult on the deck and none of us noticed.

Thankfully the other three year old did and told his dad. And the two of them saved my child.

What do I want you to know from this? First, you can never be too careful. Second, don't be too quick to judge other parents or caregivers when their children get hurt. Not everything can be prevented, and if it was their fault (or even if it wasn't) they are likely consumed by guilt already. Third, cherish those you love, it seems so surreal and scary that my precious daughter was almost lost, in such a short period of time. They all have been getting extra hugs lately

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