This is why I share the story of my son almost drowning

Never in my life have I felt so much fear as I jumped in and pulled him out. He immediately started crying, thank God. I held him close to me and didn't want to let him go.

This is why I share the story of my son almost drowning

[Trigger warning: This essay talks about a woman's experience with drowning.]

You hear about dry drowning, land drowning, delayed drowning. You're told that you can never be overly cautious with your children around a pool, ocean or any body of water. You read of children drowning in a neighbor's pool; they just wander when adults are distracted and the worst happens.

But sometimes, you experience it first hand. And in that moment life changes.

It was the 4th of July last year and in typical retail management fashion, I got to celebrate by working. I woke up at 3:30 that morning, made coffee for breakfast and spent the next 12 hrs directing people towards Tiki torches and charcoal while grilling hot dogs and burgers for the store associates. I was feeling my independence in true corporate retail style.


My husband's birthday is July 5th. At some point, he began claiming the national holiday as his own national birthday celebration, as well as the week (and sometimes the month) as an extended self-celebratory period. I love him a lot and he definitely deserves to be celebrated for all that he does and is for our family.

Once I ended my shift, I drove straight to the home of my in-laws to join in the celebration. It was everything one would want in a summer celebration. Loud music, lounge chairs by the pool, ribs on the grill and a rodeo of flamingo riding (think bull riding but on a float in a pool).

I relaxed and baked in the sun while keeping a close eye on the kiddos and playing family photographer. As a fairly inadequate swimmer myself, little ones around the pool always make me worry. My 5yr old was dancing by the pool and showing off his ability to swim without floaties. So much simultaneous pride and stress comes from watching him paddle around unassisted and happy as a clam.

Then came the time for everyone to get out of the pool and get ready to sing Happy Birthday and have cake. I never got in the water because, let's face it, this mother-of-two body isn't pool ready yet so I stayed in my chair by the pool, scrolling through my pictures and editing them as everyone else went to dry off a bit. I was thankful for the quiet and the ability to truly relax without worrying about kids in the water. The pool is secured with a pool fence that goes around the entire perimeter of the pool and the only access is one safety-latched gate that just happened to be propped open.

My next memory in this sequence of events will forever stay with me. My 5-year-old said, "Little brother is swimming!" and I looked up to see my 2-year-old looking up at me from underneath the surface of the water, squinting his eyes against water and sun, kicking his feet and reaching his outstretched arms towards me.

Never in my life have I felt so much fear as I jumped in and pulled him out. He immediately started crying, thank God. I held him close to me and didn't want to let him go.

I had failed him. I had risked his safety by scrolling on my cell phone. Someone had taken his floaty off and he had wandered back into the pool and just sank right off of the step. How long was he under water? Did he feel panic like I did? Did he feel like I had abandoned him?

I wanted to leave the party. I cried. I was shaken.

I had almost lost my baby boy, right in front of me because of negligence. Children are ever-curious creatures, always exploring and discovering and seeking to learn more and it's my responsibility as a mother to let him have the space to do that in order to learn and grow but to also protect him from the serious dangers that can come from exploring the unknown.

We cannot protect our children from every hurt and heartbreak and I understand that those experiences help them to better navigate the world we live in. I'm fortunate that I didn't have to experience the loss of a child to gain a better understanding of my duties as a parent. The risk alone, the feelings of fear, panic, and disappointment in myself as protector, will never be forgotten.

When we got home later that day, I talked to both of my kids about drowning, wearing floaties, and never going near water without an adult watching. I'm grateful for my older son speaking up about his little brother being in the water. Do you know what he told me later on?

"I'm so proud of him. He was swimming."

My heart broke with sadness and swelled with pride all at the same time. I cried and I squeezed him, grateful for his pride in his little brother because if it hadn't been for that, I might have lost him that day.

As parents, I think most of us go into this whole child-raising thing scared and clueless until we start to make mistakes and learn from them and find out that children are fairly resilient and a lot smarter than we give them credit for. We need to share our experiences because, guaranteed, there will be someone out there impacted in such a way that it could be just what saves a life.

Speak up. Share. Overshare. It might make a difference for a mama out there.

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I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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