Motherly Collective

Four years ago today, her lifeless little body was frantically pulled from a swimming pool as we begged God to leave her with us. She was surrounded by adults. Teenagers, too. With her was a mommy who is always on her game and a daddy who drips with protection and strength.

Four years ago today, there was an alarm on the door to the pool. There were watchful eyes and ears everywhere. But the door was not closed completely, making the alarm ineffective.

At 4 pm on a gorgeous Sunday, there wasn’t a splash. There was no crying out for help. No arms flailing about. There was no swirling in the water. There was NO sound.

There was only a slow, silent sinking and a rapid intake of water. I didn’t learn until later when she told me, “Mommy I cwy for you under duh wadder but you not come. Why you not come to get me when I cwy in duh wadder?” that, in the silence, she was screaming out to me just beneath the surface.

There she was gray and limp with her little lungs and belly filled up with water. Soaked curls smeared across her face and across her eyes. A drenched diaper and a Paw Patrol swim top.

We were hit with the realization that nobody knew CPR. Not one person there. Not even the mom who is anxious about everything, never gives in and absolutely tries her best.

I assumed drowning wouldn’t happen to my family. Drowning only happened to negligent parents. Parents who don’t watch their kids. 

Drowning is splashy and loud and frantic—isn’t it?

When my family went through this world-shattering experience, I was shaken out of those assumptions and reality was shoved in my face. I realized that drowning happens to the best of parents. Drowning happens to big sisters and grandparents and aunts. Drowning happens when everyone is sober.

I am here to tell you that drowning can happen to anyone. Water does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re a CEO, a teacher, an Olympic swimmer or a doctor. It doesn’t care that you love hard and never miss a moment.  

Please don’t be naive to think you’re immune to it. There was an alarm on the door. We weren’t drunk. We weren’t distracted.

And yet, my sweet husband still had to pull our youngest baby out of a pool and beg her not to die right there in his arms.

We are wonderful parents. The best parents, just like you are. We are all doing the best we can to raise good people and be present in their little lives. I know my husband and I are doing that, and I’m certain you are too.

But still, drowning can happen to anyone. It can happen in a matter of seconds and it does not make a sound.

All it takes is thirty seconds. That’s enough time to ride an escalator from one floor to the next. In thirty seconds you can pull up that funny meme and send it to your best friend. In my case, thirty seconds was enough time to put chips on my toddler’s plate and set it down on the counter.

Thirty seconds is also the perfect amount of time for your child to drown. And you’d never even hear it. Think about that, y’all—you’d never even hear it. The only thing you’ll hear is your heart pounding as you see her limp in your arms. You’ll hear that Bluetooth speaker and your friends laughing. You’ll hear a dog bark and a grill sizzling. But you won’t hear a splash or a cry or a whimper.

Once we knew Josephine would be okay, we made it our life’s mission to tell her story to everyone and plead with them to become CPR certified and enroll their loved ones in swimming lessons. I will never forget seeing her like that. It’s terrifying, even now. 

But now I also see the outcome of that day and it’s unbelievably amazing. After the accident she was absolutely terrified of water.  Now she is the best swimming four-year-old I’ve ever seen. Some days she wants to be a unicorn while other days she says she will grow up to be a “long neck dinosaur.” Lately, she has even been giving the quick and confident response of, “a swimmer.”

Four years later she has little kid dreams of being a swimmer. Although long necks are pretty cool, too.

Author's note

For more information on CPR training in your area, please visit the  Red Cross Website. For information on swimming lessons at a YMCA near you, please visit the  YMCA Website. Our family has partnered with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in order to help members of our community receive CPR classes and provide water safety awareness through their Arms Reach, Eyes Reach program. You can read more about how to prevent drowning on their website Strong for Life: Water Safety.

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother's journey is unique. By amplifying each mother's experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you're interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.

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