I will never forget the day I thought Huddy died.
It was just a few weeks after his first birthday. Mike was laying on the floor, his head in my lap, and Huddy was climbing and jumping and wrestling around with him. Then all of a sudden, Huddy fell. I wasn’t exactly sure which part of him hit Mike’s head, but he took a big deep breath in like he was getting ready to scream, but it never came out.
Mike scooped him up to comfort him. It wasn’t until I went to take Huddy from Mike’s arms that I realized he never let his scream out. I remember Mike holding Huddy out in front of him at arm's length saying “Hudson! Hudson! HUDSON!” over and over.
In what seemed like hours, yet also only like seconds, I watched Huddy’s body turn limp and his mouth and face get blue. At that moment, my world stopped moving. My heart stopped beating. Everything froze.
My son just died. That was my immediate thought. I remember thinking so many thoughts in that split second, and one of them being that Huddy died by some freak accident. You know those stories you hear on the news – a kid falls and hits something just so, that it ends up killing them almost instantly? That’s what I was sure happened to Huddy.
I am not one to be calm under pressure. I’m emotional as it is, and this situation was no different. I remember being hysterical, screaming at Mike to do something. Thankfully, Mike has training in CPR and has been in these types of situations before due to his job. He’s also the most even-keeled, cool-headed person I’ve ever known.
Through my hysteria, I was able to hear Mike tell me to call 911. To tell them I’m an officer’s wife and to send help immediately. I called and screamed and begged the operator to send help now. How she understood anything I said I’ll never know, but she did. I was able to get out our address and tried to explain what happened to Huddy.
While I was on the phone with 911, Mike had gently laid Huddy down on the couch and was giving him chest compressions and CPR. He was calm, focused – everything I wasn’t in that moment.
I began to hear the sirens when Huddy came to and started screaming and crying hysterically. I dropped to my knees in pure exhaustion, telling the operator he was ok and breathing again. Once I could get my body to function again, I ran over and grabbed Huddy. The paramedics came, checked him out, and said he seemed OK other than scared.
Tests on tests on tests
We were worried about his ribs being fractured or broken due to the chest compressions Mike was giving him. Among other things, we wanted answers, so Huddy and I rode in the ambulance to Children’s Mercy.
Once we got there, there were tons of tests. Looking back, I don’t even remember all of them, but I know he had chest x-rays and echo’s done on his heart. His chest was fine, but his echo came back with something they weren’t satisfied with and wanted us to follow up with a specialist.
After an overnight stay where none of us got much sleep, we were discharged and referred to our pediatrician as well as a children’s cardiologist. After meeting with our pediatrician, we learned about breath-holding spells. In either a fit of anger or after an injury, kids can hold their breath for so long that they actually pass out. This sounded exactly like what had happened with Huddy.
What is a breath-holding spell?
Turns out, this is a fairly common thing among young children, though they will typically grow out of it. If it were to happen again, our doctor explained that we should get down at eye level with Huddy, hold and pull him in close, and blow in his face to force him to breathe. Since it happened once, it would likely happen again if we couldn’t get him to breathe fast enough. And while it was fairly common, we still needed to rule out that possibility of an underlying condition being the cause.
After a blood test, we did find out that Huddy had low iron levels and we should get him on a multivitamin with added iron. We also saw the specialist who did a sonogram on Huddy’s heart and cleared him of any issues – his heart was perfectly fine.
All-in-all Huddy was just fine. There were no underlying issues that caused this breath-holding spell to happen, which we were truly grateful for. But what we did learn, was that we now needed to educate anyone who watched Huddy of what could potentially happen if he here to get hurt and start to hold his breath again.
What to remember ( I'm not a doctor, so check with yours). This is what I learned...
So, if this EVER happens to your child, or a child in your care, keep these things in mind:
- If a child is refusing to breathe because of the pain of tantrums, blow in their face until it forces them to breathe
- If a child begins to pass out, try and make sure they don’t fall and hit any objects around them
- Remain calm, lie them down on their back
- A child might go stiff, turn blue around the face and mouth, twitch and possible seize
- If they don’t begin breathing on their own within 60 seconds, call 911 (a child can go up to a minute during a breath-holding spell without breathing)
- If you think your child needs CPR, remember that gentle, two-finger chest compressions are all that’s necessary to avoid injuring your child further
- Call your doctor for a follow-up visit
Written by: Abby