Tonight I took Lunchbox up for a stinky diaper change. He is a jovial little fellow, always smiling on the changing table. In our new house, we keep the wipes and diapers on a shelf above the table. I was mid-diaper change tonight when I was reminded — in the most horrifying way possible — that I had thrown a couple extra screws up on that shelf when I hung a curtain in the boys room this weekend. They were right in front of the wipe box, and when I was scrambling to get a wipe out while trying to avoid the classic poop smear all over the changing table situation, I pulled the box forward and knocked one of the screws off the shelf. Directly into my baby’s open, smiling mouth. He immediately began gagging and choking, and I immediately sat him up and then turned him completely upside down. He’s not big enough for the Heimlich, and I remembered how to rescue a choking infant from the CPR certifications I take every two years. But usually you’re worried about a chunk of food, not a sharp pointy screw. I didn’t feel that I had the benefit of time to go look up a best practice, so I just went with instinct. Lunchbox started screaming, which I actually took as a good sign (he could breathe at least), so I righted him. One look in his terrified face had me wondering if he was more upset about the screw or about Mommy whipping him off the changing table and upside down while smacking his back. All I knew was that the screw was still in there. I turned him over once more, gave him one more tap, and — thank Heavens — the screw came out. I’ve read plenty of stories about kids passing these things, but he’s pretty little still and this was a biggish screw. Very pointy. Very… well, dammit, it was a screw. Not made to be swallowed by an 18 month old.
Anyway, I watched him like a hawk all night for any crying, difficulty swallowing, choking, etc. I think he’s fine. I am reminded how easily things can go wrong and how delicate these tiny lives that I’m responsible for can really be. Hug your kids tonight and revow to keep them safe.