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I never once imagined, as a mother, I would ever find myself at the ER holding my sweet girl in my arms, tears streaming down my cheeks, uttering the words “My daughter almost drowned.”

Two days ago, we went swimming with friends at their pool. The triplets love the water, especially Charlize. She is fearless and a little fish. We were having a wonderful time with our friends. It felt like the perfect summer day.

I took Charlize and Sawyer to the bathroom then we went back outside to swim. They were both naked so I needed to dress them. The other kids and adults were in the pool playing, as well. I got Charlize in her suit. “Don’t get in the water until I get your floaties on,” were the last words I said to her as I proceeded to dress Sawyer.

In a moment, an instant, a matter of seconds, my life changed.

“She’s in the water! She’s in the water!!” My friend was screaming from the other side of the pool as she saw Charlize struggling, submerged under the water. The next few moments were the slowest of my life. I stood up and saw with my own eyes my girl underwater fighting for her life. I couldn’t get to her fast enough no matter how fast I ran. I could see her tiny feet kicking trying so hard to get out, but she simply couldn’t. I finally got to the pool and pulled her out as fast as I could. Her blue lips are forever engraved in my memory. As soon as I took her out she instantly started spitting up water and in seconds, she vomited up a lot the water, and the watermelon and strawberries she had just eaten. She was sobbing. I was in shock. Her color came back and she coughed a little bit, but thank God she was OK. After about 30 minutes she was back to her normal self and eating a full dinner meal.

It looked like Charlize was playing on the larger pool step and got too close to the edge and quietly, silently, and quickly my daughter got into the water and went under. No one saw it happen, but it happened.

I had to call my husband and tell him our daughter almost drowned. I was horrified to even say the words out loud. After talking to him, we agreed we should take her to the ER. We have read so many articles about secondary drowning and wanted to be sure she was OK. We got the boys home and headed directly there. We stood in the lobby of the ER. My baby girl was tired, cradled in my arms, and the dreaded words came out of my mouth as tears streamed down my cheeks,

“My daughter almost drowned.”

From there we had an amazing team of Doctors and Nurses who walked with us through this traumatic experience and helped Charlize recover. She had blood work done and a chest X-ray. My precious girl was so strong and brave, even saying “cheese” during every X-ray picture. While her lungs sounded great, the X-ray showed pulmonary edema, which is an indication of inflammation and excess fluid in the lungs, which can lead to secondary or dry drowning. I went numb when the doctor told us this. We were sent by ambulance to Rady’s Children’s Hospital to be monitored for the night. We arrived there around 3 a.m.

Ryan and I laid, exhausted, in the hospital bed holding our sweet Charlize as she peacefully slept. I replayed in my head everything that happened over and over. I could not even believe that my daughter almost died, but because of God’s love, grace, and mercy she is alive. I am so thankful for her life.

Charlize was monitored for a full day. And was doing great. Her symptoms never worsened and she was mainly just exhausted.

Quietly, silently, quickly.

My daughter almost drowned.

We were all there and none of us saw her slip under the water, but it still happened.

Embarrassed. Mortified. Ashamed. Guilt-ridden.

This experience was a difficult and painful life lesson. My heart hurts. I feel ashamed and guilty that my daughter was fighting for her life underwater, drowning, and I didn’t even see it. She could have died. The emotions that come with an experience like this are expounding. Not all parents who walk through something like this get to hold their children at the end of the day. My heart grieves for them. I’m so thankful for the brave mamas who have gone before me and shared their own stories of secondary drowning because they are the reason we wanted to take Charlize to the ER to make sure she was OK. While my heart is working through a lot of things right now, I know ultimately, God loves me. He will see me through this. I am a good Mom, but accidents-terrifying accidents that shouldn’t happen, happen.

For anyone feeling the need to say something mean, judge me or the situation itself, express negativity, don’t. I guarantee whatever you have to say, I have felt. An incident like this comes with an array of emotions. Many that I haven’t even processed yet. But I know this was an accident. And my daughter survived. My life changed. I changed.

We were given many wonderful recommendations regarding pool safety and I wanted to share one in particular that I loved. Of course, swim lessons are important, but also it is a great idea to have someone be the “lifeguard” at the pool. Their only job is to watch the pool. They can’t play with the kids, have conversations, go anywhere, etc. And the adults just take turns carrying on this role. We will be implementing this in the future whenever I feel ready to take the kids to the pool again.

I hope, if anything, by reading this you are encouraged to take extra safety precautions by the pool. May this horrifying experience be something that you can learn from too.

Originally published on the author’s page

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Desiree Fortin

My name is Desiree Fortin. I am a Mom to two year old triplets. I am a blogger and photographer and love sharing the stories we are given. Follow me on Facebook!

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