Out of Sight for One Minute...
September 21, 2013 will be recorded as the absolute worst day of my life. What had started out as a beautiful, exciting day to celebrate my youngest son’s birthday, who was turning 2 on September 25, it ended up in the nightmare that I can never wake up from.
We woke up that morning a little different. Jaylen did not like to snuggle with me so it was rare that I would wake up with him laying next to me in bed, but my husband had left early for work that morning and for some reason, Jaylen wanted to lay next to me. I am grateful that I got to have that moment with him that morning. We got ready for the day like normal, playing with toys, cars specifically because those were his favorite. It was a rare occasion if you didn’t see a few cars in his hands, and a pacifier in his mouth, along with a big ole grin coming from that perfect mouth. Jaylen was such a happy, easy going, care free kid.
After nap time, we loaded up the car to head to my sisters house for an afternoon of swimming, dinner, and birthday cake. Jaylen’s Birthday was not for four more days, but it was a day that we could get together with family and celebrate, so we did! Jaylen absolutely loved the water! We had swam in my sister's pool numerous times that summer. We were always very cautious of the water. We took the precautions and always had an eye on the kids. Jaylen always wore puddle jumpers, and an adult would always be in or right near the water while the kids were playing.
I had planned to sign my 4 year old daughter and Jaylen up for swim lessons all summer long, but time kept passing and I kept putting it off. Surely accidents don’t happen to a family like mine, so I wasn’t too worried about it. It was now September and summer was over. Kaia and Jaylen were finally enrolled to have swim lessons in October, but that fateful September night changed our lives forever and Jaylen never got to have those swim lessons.
We had finished swimming about an hour before, kids were all dressed, and we were finishing up dinner, about to cut the birthday cake. In a matter of minutes, life changed forever. It was a beautiful evening. Jaylen was outside sitting on my husband’s lap, next to my brother in law. My nephew was playing football on the grass. I was inside with my sister cleaning up dinner.
I looked out the window and saw Jaylen sitting on my husband’s lap. Not even a minute later I noticed Jaylen was no longer with my husband so I immediately went outside to see where he went. I am a very protective mom, so much so, that my family would make fun of me for it. You can never be too cautious when it comes to your kids though, right? We started looking for Jaylen immediately...at that moment, my worst nightmare began as I heard my nephew yell, “he’s in here!” Referring to the hot tub that my nephew was not even five feet from, playing with his football.
My husband and brother in law, immediately pulled him out, performed CPR, and got him breathing. I even heard him cry! The medics arrived, told us that he would be fine, “we always save the ones who are breathing and crying”.
I had no idea as I traveled to the hospital to meet up with my little boy that we would hear the worst possible words a parent could hear...”he didn’t make it”. WHAT?!! Not us! Not me! NOT MY CHILD!! I watch my kids! He was out of our sight for not even a minute! A minute too long...
So now, I can’t take back that awful fateful night, but I can share my experience and advice for others.
First of all, it CAN happen to you!! It happens to people like you and I EVERY single day and will continue to if we don’t take precautions!
First word of advice, get your kids in swimming lessons by the time they are mobile! And I’m not taking about the mommy and me classes. I did those, they teach nothing but that water is fun! Yes, water can be fun, but kids need survival skills in case they ever happen to fall in! Look into your local Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) or other survival swimming program. They teach those survival skills! We have had two rainbow babies since our tragic loss and both just completed their first round of ISR lessons and we are so impressed with this program!
My second piece of advice, DO NOT rely on puddle jumpers to protect your kids. They actually do the opposite. Yes, it helps them while they are in the water with an adult, but it creates a false sense of security. Jaylen was awesome in the water with them on, so awesome that he was confident to jump in without them, when no one was looking. Along with that, puddle jumpers teach kids to be upright in the water, so if they were to fall in without them, they will try and be upright, which is impossible to help them get to the top if they fall in.
My third piece of advice, no matter what is going on around you, NEVER take your eyes off your child while around water. Jaylen was out of our sight for literally less than a minute. ONE minute that changed our lives forever, never to be the same!!
It is extremely difficult to share our tragic experience in detail, but I feel it is important to do. You don’t think it can ever happen to you, until it actually does! And then even when it does, it still doesn’t seem real. If sharing my story can save even one family from going through what we have gone through, then it is worth it. Watch your kids, protect your kids, and be proactive!