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Survival Sunday Story: Jack's Story

As a mom of 3 wild little boys aged 7, 4, and 2, I am very used to dealing with bumps, bruises, rashes, and scrapes. We all love being in the water during the summer and being able to spend time with friends and family swimming. I had always used puddle jumpers for my boys. It provided for us a sense of security, we thought.

Sunday August 19th, 2018 was our work party that was hosted by a coworker with a pool. The boys were elated. My husband was working, so I was going to be there with the 3 boys myself, which wasn’t anything out of the ordinary or something I hadn’t done 100 times. The little boys got their puddle jumpers on and I went about helping get things set up for the party. Around noon, I mentioned that I still needed to run to the store to grab the sandwiches to which my coworker and good friend. She replied that I should just go, she’d watch the boys. Her 4 kids are all older than my boys and are competitive swimmers. I left not worrying and made record time getting to the store and out again. I remember thinking to myself how much I had to pee, but decided to wait until I got back to the party. All in all, I was gone for approximately 30 minutes. I walked in, dropped off the food and decided to check on the boys before I used the bathroom. I walked out to do a quick headcount and check in with everyone. I saw my two oldest, but I didn’t see my 2-year-old.

“Where’s Jack?” I asked.

“Oh, he must have gone inside” they said.

“Okay” I replied.

As I walked toward the door to head back inside, something inside me told me to check the pool. Just in case. I walked back over to the pool and did a quick scan and didn’t see anything and then turned to walk back inside. Then that voice in my head said “CHECK AGAIN, MOM!!!” There was a weird shadow in the deep end that I was sure was just a toy. I walked over and as my eyes focused I realized that that shadow was my 2-year-old, face down at the bottom of the deep end. My 7-year-old realized this at the exact same time and screamed “MOM, HE’S AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POOL!”.

Before I could think, I was in the pool, shoes, sunglasses, and all. I pulled him out of the pool and tossed him up on the side. I immediately started screaming for help, but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t pull myself out of the pool. Jack was grey, his lips were blue, he wasn’t breathing, and he didn’t have a pulse. My colleagues started CPR right away. Being an ICU nurse, surrounded by other ICU nurses, is likely the best place this could have happened.

My friend positioned herself overtop of him and did CPR and cried as I kneeled next to him and sobbed. My 7-year-old sat on the side of the pool and rubbed his head as he was receiving CPR. He was lifeless for what felt like years, but what must have been more likely a few minutes. He threw up repeatedly and was limp and lethargic, but breathing on his own. The ambulance was there in a heartbeat and we were off to the hospital. I had someone call ahead and have my husband meet me in the ER. All they told him was that there had been an accident, that Jack had a pulse, and he was headed to the ER via ambulance.

I rode up front in the ambulance; soaking wet, shaking like a leaf, and with my neck craned back to make sure that there was still signs of life and positive faces from EMS. By the time we rolled in to the Trauma Bay, he was yelling at the paramedics that he wanted the oxygen off his face and that he wanted to go home.

He stayed 18 hours in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and got to go home the next day with no residual neurological or respiratory injury.

He is a miracle. He is the product of divine intervention.

After the fact, I learned that once I had left to get the sandwiches, one of the older kids had taken his puddle jumper off because he wanted to play on the trampoline and hadn’t thought to put it back on. My then 3-year-old told me he saw Jack splashing in the water on the side of the pool and then he fell in and sank to the bottom. For everyone involved, it was life changing.

I enrolled both of my younger boys in ISR the next month. They did amazingly and passed with flying colors. My 7-year-old is taking a modified version to supplement his skills and teach him how to rescue himself. The little boys are currently in refresher lessons.

Although he is still with us, I suffer his loss on a daily basis. Even though he was able to be resuscitated, for a painfully long time, he was dead, and I will never be the same as a mother. I had been naïve to the danger for a long time. Now that we have gone through it, we are all acutely aware that all of those things that “will never happen one of my children” are all very real and very possible. They have all learned the skills to self-rescue now and I am so grateful for the tender care of Annette, our ISR instructor, and the sense of relief that the process has provided me. So, all there is left to do is hug them all a little harder, be eternally grateful for divine intervention, and pray for their safety every day.

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