It happened last night.
It had been a normal day, and our annual Hendricks family Guy Fawkes trip to one of the designated beaches where we could watch the fireworks. We had been picnicing for long enough and were getting ready to leave for home when Sam suddenly went rogue. In the process that is getting everyone safely into a seat, Andel was trying to put Sam into his, when I noticed this eerie silence. I looked up to find Sam in one of those silent screams.
I hadn't seen or heard anything happen to warrant that kind of cry, so I just watched for a moment. But it just went on and on, and we noticed that he wasn't breathing. Andel started shouting at him to stop. I was blowing air into his face. We were hitting him on the back and on the bottom. And all the while he did not flinch. He was frozen in that open-mouthed scream pose, and now going visibly blue.
Obviously we were panicing then. Ash was trying to help. Yaya was giving instructions. The other kids were shocked quiet. it seemed to go on for ages. I don't know what eventually made him snap out of it, but as Sam took that first shallow breath, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. It took a few more deep breaths and a few minutes outside in the fresh air before the cyanosis in Sam's face and began to subside, but he seemed calmer after that, and we made it home in one piece. Thank you, Lord!
I'd heard about these breath-holding spells before. They are often associated with tantrums or being deeply upset about something. I had never experienced it with my own kids - and for so long - though. Naturally, I had to read up about it some more.
The first thing that struck me was that it's not deliberate. People have generally created the impression that this is a form of misbehaviour from kids, but actually, they aren't even aware, or in control, of what they're doing (which explains why Sam was starting blankly back at us while we were screaming at him to inhale). In fact, some kids go on for so long, they pass out, and may only be able to 'snap out of it' once they've come to afterwards. The literature suggests that it's relatively common, occuring in many children between the ages of 2 and 8 years old, and not necessarily as a result of an underlying condition, but you should still tell you doctor about it so that there's a record of it.
A relief, I suppose. Not that any of that changes how flippen scary it was to watch!
Oh, the life of a parent: a non-stop adventure of faith and grace.