Thursday, September 10, 2020


I broke out the pulse oximeter last night before bed. Andrew ordered one months ago (a pandemic panic purchase) but we haven't really had cause to use it. But last night I measured Alexander's oxygen levels before putting him to bed, for my own peace of mind. He was fine; I'm just a worrier. 

Yesterday I took the three little ones to the pool by myself. Rachel and Miriam stayed home for various reasons (Rachel because she was feeling a little behind in math and thought a quiet sibling-free house might help her accomplish quite a bit more and Miriam because she didn't want to have to rush home to shower and finish her work before her organ lesson) and while it was fine for me to take the little ones to the pool by myself, I did miss my big helpers. 

Zoë has completely abandoned her floatie. She hasn't put it on in quite some time now. This is great...but it also means I have to watch her a little more closely. The other day we were all at the pool and Zoë and Alexander wanted a snack so I took them out of the pool to have a granola bar and then took out my phone (a distraction!) to Marco Polo with some friends (in Finland and Idaho—hi Bridget and Crystal!) since the other three kids were together playing in the 4-foot area where they all can touch the bottom (and Rachel's technically old enough to supervise at the pool, anyway, according to the rules). Anyway, one minute Zoë was beside me, just opening her granola bar, and the next thing I know she was hurling herself into the pool from a diving block. 

"How'd she get over there so fast?" I wondered. "And how did she finish her granola bar that fast?"

Kids are just fast, I guess.

Her little head popped up out of the water but she seemed to be having trouble getting a breath.

"Turn onto your back!" I urged, then commanded Rachel to grab her sister (she was only a couple arm's lengths away). 

Rachel scooped her up and Zoë immediately stopped flailing about. It was then that we noticed the cause of her breathing issues—her cheeks were stuffed full of granola bar! She looked like a little chipmunk and couldn't open her mouth to take a breath to (literally) save her life. Silly thing! 

She's always trying to flaunt the "no food in the pool" rule.

Anyway, yesterday I had the littlest three at the pool and Alexander was in a rather brave mood. He didn't want his floatie on and instead wanted to practice swimming on his own. Usually this involves me helping him do back floats (I hold his head and he puts out his arms and legs) or him hopping from the stairs to me and back again. So far he hasn't wanted to put his face in the water at all, but yesterday he did

He put his face in and was so proud of himself that he wanted to keep doing it.

He started walking out to me from the stairs like he usually does and then he said, "Watch this, Mom!" and he purposely put his face into the water and continued walking out to me. And when I say that he "purposely put his face into the water," I mean that he very purposely put his face into the water. He had his arms out in front of him, feeling his way, and he was holding his head down with every muscle in his body. 

When he got out to me I had to lift him out of the water to get his face out. 

He took a big gulp of air and exclaimed, "I did it!"

"You did!" I said. "But you need to lift your head back out of the water to breathe. That's a very important part of swimming!"

He agreed and left me to walk back to the stairs, very intently keeping his face in the water. I was behind him counting how long he was holding his breath as he floundered along and when I started to get nervous about how a two-year-old (almost three-year-old, but that's irrelevant) could possibly hold their breath that long, I forced his head back up. 

He took a big gulp of air and exclaimed, "Ta-dah!"

"You're doing a great job," I said. "But you need to start lifting your head up to breathe. Coming up for air is a very important part of swimming. Putting your face in is so brave but just...lift it back up every now and then to take a breath, okay?"

"Otay, Mom!" he said and then plunged back in. 

He was getting braver and braver. And I was getting nervouser and nervouser, but eventually he got the message that he needed to lift his head to breathe and I got less and less nervous and he got more and more confident and things were going fine. 

Then Zoë announced an incoming "Starfish float!" (because in addition to "Cannonball!" we announce things like "Pencil jump!" and "Starfish float!") and Alexander copied her. 

"Tarfi'h fote!" he yelled and then slammed his face into the water and put out his arms and legs and all in all executed a beautiful starfish float. But I was nervous about whether or not he'd be able to recover from a floating position, so I grabbed his hands (because in his previous practices he's done just fine pulling up on my hands to pull his face out of the water) but this time he didn't pull his face out of the water. I was counting how long he was down there and he wasn't panicking at all, so I just kept counting and when I decided that there was absolutely no possible way on earth that a baby should or could hold their breath that long, I pulled him out of the water myself. 

He tried to take in a big gulp of air, but this time he took in a big gulp of water with that air. He had a very scary coughing fit and I rushed him out of the pool and held him upside-down while I hammered on his back a bit and he puked out some water and we both ended up covered in mucus and grossness and when he finally caught his breath he exclaimed, "I didded a tarfi'h fote! I did it! I wimmed!"

And I was like, "Yeah, you did! But you didn't lift up your head to breathe!!"

"Oh, yeah," Alexander said, "I fordot." 

Forgetting to breathe is...a rather perilous mistake to make when swimming.

After such a scary water-inhalation experience (it really was quite scary), I was a little worried about secondary drowning (okay, so I'm always a little worried about secondary drowning but last night I was exceptionally worried about secondary drowning, even though Alexander had been fine and energetic the rest of the day) so I checked Alexander's oxygen saturation levels. They came in at 99% so I tucked him in with confidence (and then checked on him before I went to bed and then was grateful when he woke me up at 3:00 in the morning to help him go potty). 

Good thing Andrew ordered that pulse oximeter!


  1. That is too scary for me. That is scary enough to me to stay out of the pool until next year!