A letter to mums and dads everywhere
Thomas was dying and I didn’t know what to do
We’ve all said it...
It’ll never happen to us.
Even the most anxious new parent doesn’t imagine the worst will happen.
But I’m here to tell you it can, and why we should all be more prepared...
When my son Thomas was born on 15 April 2015, it was one of the happiest days of my life.
He was six weeks early, but perfect. A healthy 6lb 13oz.
After 11 days in the Neonatal Unit at Warrington Hospital, my partner Peter, then 45, and I brought Thomas home.
Our daughter Olivia, then 5, adored the new baby.
I was breastfeeding and Thomas took to it like a duck to water, flying through his check-ups with the health visitor.
On 9 May 2015, when Thomas was nearly 4 weeks, I’d arranged to go shopping with my mum Jenny, then 66, and the kids.
Fastening them into their car seats, I looked at Thomas.
He was fast asleep, his chin resting on his chest. Adorable.
My heart felt as if it would burst with love.
We set off, Mum driving, me wedged between the kids in the back.
We’d just got to the end of our road when mother’s instinct made me look at Thomas. My heart lurched.
‘Stop the car!’ I screamed. Frantic, I unbuckled Thomas. He was like a rag doll in my arms.
Calling 999, I was hysterical. ‘My baby isn’t breathing!’ I screamed, helpless.
Like many parents, I’d never had first-aid training.
Now Thomas was dying in front of me, and I didn’t know what to do.
All I could do was put him face down on my knees and hit his back.
After a few blows, I saw the colour coming back to his face. Thank God.
But he was still floppy, and the ambulance was nowhere to be seen.
Then I noticed milk on my knee and realised...
I’d fed him just before we’d set off in the car.
Luckily, there was a fire station nearby. So, with Thomas in my arms I ran in, shouting for help.
A fireman took Thomas into the engine house where he checked his pulse and breathing. Gave him oxygen. I watched in horror, Mum and Olivia by my side. When the fireman handed Thomas back moments later, it was as if nothing had happened.
Thomas was breathing normally, his cheeks flooded with colour. Paramedics arrived, and we were taken to a hospital in Wigan. Thomas was checked over, but discharged soon after. Overwhelmed, the horror of what happened hit me. Back home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the what-ifs. What if I hadn’t looked round in time, what if we weren’t near a fire station..?
I need to be more prepared, I realised.
So I started researching first-aid courses for new parents.
I also wanted to make sure no parent went through what I did – or worse, didn’t get help in time.
So I became a volunteer, teaching first aid. I started campaigning for funding for free classes for all parents.
After I’d been teaching courses for a few months, I began to hear from parents who’d saved their kids’ lives when they’d been choking.
It’s so easy for kids to choke – on all sorts. From lollipops to small toys, almost anything can be a hazard.
So please – make sure you’re prepared should the unthinkable happen to you. Sign up for a first-aid course today.
Thomas choking as a baby made me learn first aid
Firemen came to our rescue