Yesterday, the unthinkable happened. My sweet boy, Andrew, walked right into the deep end of the pool and went in head first. I feel like for about 30 seconds, I came out of my own body and became someone else. It didn't hit me until later that night, that within a matter of seconds, things could have gone terribly wrong.
A good friend of mine and her family recently moved into a new house in a subdivision near us. Her twins are the same age and grade as my William and they play on the same football team together - the one my hubs coaches. In fact, her hubs is one of the assistant coaches. Last night there was a coaches-only meeting happening at one of the other assistant's homes so my friend suggested that the coaches wives get together at her place for some fun, swim, and snacks. Of course my kids were ecstatic!
Sunday evening rolled around and I packed up all the usuals - pool toys, towels, snacks, drinks, a little mama juice (aka, Mango-Ritas), and we headed for her place. After arriving and unloading everything in her house, the bigger kids headed out for the pool and the little kiddos and the moms stayed inside to catch up on convos and get a semi-tour of the new house.
Eventually, we ended up bringing all the drinks and snacks outside and headed out there ourselves. It was a nice night - not too hot or cold - and her backyard was lush with trees which made for a great hanging out spot. We all popped open our cans of Summer Shandy and let the conversation flow.
By this time I had outfitted Andrew with a kid sized life vest, which in retrospect, seemed a little too big for him. But at the time, I figured it was better than nothing. He was wandering around the stone waterfall area, playing on the backside of it and I never took my eyes off him. Then, he got up and began to walk away. So, I was sitting just a few feet away on the outside of the hot tub, which was not on, but full of water anyway.
I remember standing and looking at him, calling his name. He looked around trying to find my voice. He finally turned his head left a little and I was just straight ahead looking right at him. "Andrew....Andy, come over here. Come to this water!", I'd said to him in a sweet, high voice. He made one step toward the deep end of the pool. And so again, I called out to him while inching my feet just a little closer to him. I feared taking off really fast because then he'd make a game out of it and jump in quick, I thought.
So, as I inched closer to him, trying to distract him by talking to him, he began to inch even closer to the pool's edge. I panicked inside but tried to play it cool. And then I remember seeing him inch over and dip his left toe ever so slightly into the pool. And almost in slow motion, he tipped right over.
I immediately yelled, "Andy, NO!" and then jumped around the rock waterfall so that I could get to the other end of the pool's edge. It was slippery all over the ground, though, so I remember trying to move fast but not run because I didn't want to slip and fall. I remember seeing him, life vest floating on the water and his big head full of dark hair lying face down in the water. I remember thinking calmly though. I remember thinking, "dammit, I knew he was going to do something like that!". I didn't even think twice about the fact that I'd just washed my hair that day and did NOT want to get it wet. Or that I was still in my swimdress cover up, not really "ready" to go for a dip just yet. I was panicking inside but just let the calm take over and kept my focus on what needed to be done.
I quickly jumped in, and grabbed hold of Andy's bulky baby body. "Shit!", I thought. "Is he above water yet? My shit is totally sinking in this deep ass water but I've got to get him out!" As I sunk, I immediately kicked and swished my legs and paddling with my left arm as fast as I could, all while pushing up with my right hand, where I had a hold of his body. I remember not giving a crap if anything happened to me, but damn, nothing better happen to my baby!
Then finally, air. I pushed up out of the water and swam over to the pool's edge, which was actually closer than it felt at the time. I could hear Andy crying a lot and coughing a little. I carried him while I followed the pool's edge over to the ladder and I climbed out with him in my arms. By then my friends had made their way over to where we were to make sure all was well. I was soaked - swimdress and all! I remember standing him up and unbuckling the life vest straps and trying to get him dried off and warm again. He was still crying but not coughing very much. Was this good? Bad? Did it mean something would later be wrong? All these thoughts rambled through my head as I stood there and my friends helped me gather my wits about me. I remember one of them saying that maybe he instinctively held his breath when he went under because he wasn't coughing a lot. He was mostly crying. Of course I'd hoped she was right.
I eventually got him all dried off and calmed down. And of course, once I did, he wanted to go right back into the water! Jeez! This time I sat him right down next to me in the hot tub since it was pretty shallow water and wasn't actually on. He truly just wanted to splishy-splash everywhere, and there I was trying to get dried off from the jump I'd been forced to take.
I wish I could say the rest of our evening out by the pool went on without incident, but you know that's not how we roll! Later, while the bigger kids were playing over on the small putting green in the yard, my friend's son threw a golf club in excitement. My Nate was standing right in its path. He crouched to the ground, almost immediately, crying and screaming in pain. Thankfully, it looks like nothing more than a bruised undereye area and all will be fine.
I definitely learned something from this scary experience. I'm a firm believer in not taking your eyes off your kids - even for a moment. They just have the ability to move so darn fast! I will also never fully rely on a safety device or aid for my kids. That life vest did not work for my son and thankfully, I didn't rely on it to do so or he might have not made it out of the water unharmed.
What are my final thoughts about all this chaos? Just par for the course in this family.