My Child Almost Drowned On Family Vacation

We went to the beach in Florida this summer. We rented a big beach house right on the beach for a whole week. Our house had a private fenced-in pool with a big landing as the first stair where little ones can wade in the water. The landing was huge. I could lay my whole body on it and still not dangle my feet over its edge. We had a daily ritual of heading to the beach in the morning to play in the ocean while it was still cooler, returning to the house, hosing off in the outdoor shower and getting in the pool before heading in for lunch and the littles nap time.

This day was just like all of the other days. We were in the pool playing for a good while before deciding it was time to go inside to eat. Everyone was filtering out of the pool, standing around on the patio to drip-dry a little bit before going inside. Ivan and Amalia were still wading on that landing, Javier and I staying right with them to supervise. The other adults and Sylas were all on the patio. We were chatting while we waited.

I don’t even know how it happened or who noticed it first or where the events began, but I encountered the second gut wrenching, life-flashing-before-my-eyes moment of my life that day. I think Javier noticed that Ivan wasn’t on the landing first. To be honest, it took me a second to realize what he was darting his head around for, until I saw him jump in and pull our little boy from under the water. I was holding Amalia’s hand at the time, and I told my sister-in-law to come get her so that I could go help Javier. I was the only adult there besides maybe my sister-in-law that knew CPR. Thank goodness we didn’t have to resort to that.

Javier turned him slightly upside down over his arm to try and get any water out. Luckily, by the grace of God, Ivan was able to hold his breath just long enough for his dad to pull him out of the pool. He did cough a little, but he didn’t throw up and he didn’t ingest any water while he was under. I gave him back blows while Javier had him at a downward angle, and once I saw that he was breathing fine and he was going to be okay, we stood him up so that I could inspect him better. He muttered a quiet “I can’t dive mom.” He was very embarrassed because everyone was watching what had happened, so he didn’t want to talk to me. I was pretty confident he was fine, so Javier and I took him to our room so that I could ask him privately if he was ok. He felt more comfortable to speak to me then. I listened to his chest, told him to breathe deep while I held my ear to his chest and back. I didn’t hear any rattling noises like water, just nice normal breaths.

Javier was terrified, scarred for life at the sight of his little boy looking straight up at him from under the water. He didn’t struggle like they show in the movies. He was absolutely still, just staring, waiting for help. Javier was so scared to let him out of his sight in the pool after that.

We watched him for a good while, very closely in case we thought we should take him to the ER. I know about dry drowning being a common after effect, so we watched him like hawks. I didn’t let him nap that day either just to be safe. Javier ended up sleeping with the boys in their bed that night to keep him close too.

I asked him a couple days later what happened, how he fell into the pool, and he said he slipped on the stairs. He knows about not jumping in without help, but he is our daredevil child. He’s the one that, even though he knows better, would get a wild hair and do it anyway. He’s very brave, knows no fear when it comes to dangerous situations. He’s not scared of getting a busted knee or falling from his bike. He’s the one that brushes off his boo-boos and hops back on to try again. He doesn’t truly realize the dangers of the water, or how deep it really is, even after drilling that into him over the course of the past three summers he’s been to the pools. I don’t think he jumped in on purpose, and I do believe him that he slipped, or got too close to the edge and lost his footing.

He was definitely scared after it happened, but it didn’t scare him enough to deter him from swimming for the rest of our trip.

Javier and I learned a valuable lesson. We are completely guilt-ridden that we didn’t see him fall in, or even hear him. None of us did, and we were all there together RIGHT NEXT TO HIM, 8 adults in all. None of us saw it happen. I’ve learned that even though I think that they know better, I still can’t trust that accidents don’t happen and that I have to either keep my eyes on them at all times without distraction, or get them out of the pool if I can’t pay 100% attention to them. It was an absolutely scary moment, and we are so lucky that we caught it when we did, or he could’ve run out of air and I can’t even imagine what we would’ve done then.

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