Sophea and the ORANGE

This blog was written so long ago, but I wanted all my stories to be in one place. Happy Orange-aversary Sophea!! I can’t believe this was TWELVE years ago.

August 14, 2007 is the worst and one of the best days of my entire life! It started out as an average Tuesday morning. I woke up and debated getting in the shower. I decided against it because I had planned to clean and rearrange some of my house around. I knew I’d get dirty and thus I decided to stay in my PJ’s. I did, however, decide to give Malikhi and Sophea a bath. Sophea really wanted to wear one of her new cotton dresses and even though I knew we’d be going nowhere, I let her. I dressed Malikhi in what we call “comfy’s”, a pair of warm-up pants and a t-shirt. After their bath it was lunch time so as I was warming up leftover pizza, Hannah (my baby sister) trickled in. All the kids were finishing their pizza while I wiped Sophea off and stood her on the floor. It was Sophea’s nap time but I decided to finish my salad first. Hannah was still hungry so she asked for an orange. Sophea loooves oranges so she was practically begging for a piece. I said, “Sure, ask Aunt Hannah nicely for a piece of her orange.” Hannah was very generous and gave her two pieces. Next thing I knew Sophea walked over to me with this frightened expression. She wasn’t gagging, or coughing, or gasping, or breathing. I frantically swept her throat (didn’t feel a thing) and turned her on her belly over my lap and did up-thrusts on her back, screaming for Hannah to call 911. I knew it wasn’t something that she was going to get rid of on her own. I had wasted 15 seconds pounding on her back so I dialed Mike and screamed so loud I have no idea what I said, nor did he and he kept asking me to repeat it. I knew I had no time to repeat, another 15 seconds had gone by and my little baby girl was limp and very blue and still not breathing. I quickly ran down stairs and outside onto the sidewalk screaming at the top of my lungs HELP ME, SOMEBODY HELP ME, HELP ME, HELP ME, while dialing 911! My neighbor, Ali came running out of his door so quickly that his shoes flew off and onto the street. I practically threw her at him screaming MY BABY, MY LITTLE BABY GIRL; SHE’S NOT BREATHING, SHE’S CHOKING ON AN ORANGE. At this point, I was talking to him and the 911 operator. I knew I needed to calm down to tell her the information and for Malikhi, Hannah, and Sophie (who were standing there watching the whole thing) but I just couldn’t. The operator asked all the questions and my mouth couldn’t get rid the information fast enough. I know she asked “Ma’am, Where are you?” I’m still crying and screaming. I responded, “I’m on the sidewalk …in Glen Rock …Oh Uh, 47 N Baltimore Street …but you don’t need the “N” because I’m on the sidewalk. I kept thinking I had to let her go so she could get help there, even though I knew help was already on its way. The whole time I was talking to her I kept glancing over at Ali. He was hunched over with Sophea lying on her side over his knees. She was so limp. Her little head and arms were dangling and she was a bluish-gray. I thought it was already too late. It had already been 5-7 minutes of completely not breathing. Ronnie, the fire chief / Borough Supervisor / Mayor, drove by on a tractor to help if he could. Just as I saw Mike pull into the parking lot, I heard my sweet baby gasp for air. She was still very blue and limp but she gasped for breath on her own! Ali had blown air into her mouth and she responded! In the ambulance, I climbed in the back with her and they told Mike and me we had to get out and go in the front. I did, Mike said “No way! I’m not leaving my little girl.” I’m so glad I sat in the front. I absolutely could not bear to see my baby the way she was. I cried the entire way there. Then I finally heard her scream! One big scream. I was still crying but when I heard her scream I sobbed all over again. I knew she was not out of the woods, but I knew she had a much better chance than before. Before that scream her tiny life flashed before me. All the memories, all the smiles I’d miss, all the hugs, all the ‘I love yous’ that I may never have again. As hard as I tried not to go there the big “what-if'” came to mind as well. What if she didn’t make it, how would we tell everyone? How could I go home and see her sweet little room, or her clothes that I would have to fold from the laundry, or her toys sitting in the living room. I looked down at my pajama bottoms and saw her handprint in orange juice from when she walked over to me and I thought “I’m never washing these again and I’ll keep them forever. It is the last thing she hugged me in!” I kept imagining a slideshow of all the beautiful memories I have of Sophea dancing, playing with her brother, smiling and walking, hiding from us under a blanket with her little feet sticking out the bottom, but mostly her precious ballerina dancing. I saw the dreaded words “In Loving Memory…” scrolling across the bottom of the make-believe screen. That scream brought me back to reality. We are not there yet. There is no need to start planning for a funeral, we should be praying. And that is just what I did. I prayed like I never have before!

At the hospital they had her breathing through her oxygen mask. She would cry every time someone touched her, even Mike and me. She still would not open her eyes. I tried to rub her cheek and whisper in her ear and she did not recognize us nor did she take comfort in my touch. Her whole body was flexed. All her muscles were tight and stretched. Mike and I feared we lost her even though she was very much alive. The fight was not yet over! We kept asking the doctors if she’d ever recognize us and they were all very vague in their answers. We knew that was not a good sign. They decided she needed to be flown to Hershey Medical center by helicopter because they feared she aspirated some of the orange. Neither one of us could go with her in the helicopter, so we had to drive and meet her there. I remember one of the medical staff on the helicopter telling us to drive carefully because no matter how quickly we drove they’d beat us there anyway! Right before she was to get on the helicopter she said mommy. She rolled over onto her knees, ripped off the cords, and reached for me; her mommy. Then I had to place her on the cot to be strapped in. As I placed her on it she tightened her grip and kept yelling no, I want my mommy! The sweetest words I may have ever heard! What a relief; Mike and I realized we had our little girl back! God had given her back to us!

At Hershey Medical, she was doing so well they didn’t need to do surgery right away. They monitored her all night long. In the morning we talked to the nurse and she said it was unlikely that they would let her go home that day because during the night whenever she would lie on her back her oxygen levels would decrease to 84%. Pastor Peter came in to visit with her and, of course, pray for her. He prayed that God would clean her lungs out with His own hands so they would no longer need to do the surgery and so her oxygen levels would increase. About an hour later Sophea became very playful. She looked more alive than she had all day! The doctor came in and listened to her and said she sounds great and looks great! He said they no longer felt the need to do the surgery and we could go home that day!! THANK YOU GOD!!!

When we got home we started analyzing everything. God knew what he was doing! Everything and every person were placed in a particular spot for a reason! Thank God that Sophea was standing and not still in her seat at the table so she could walk over to me, otherwise I would have never known until too late. I do not remember running down my stairs and opening my door. Anyone who has been here knows my door is VERY hard to open; I had Sophea limp in one hand and my cell phone in the other. I know somehow God carried me down those stairs and opened the door for me. While talking to Ali, we realized he wasn’t supposed to be home. He’d blown off a training session for work because his mother was there visiting. He kept trying to convince his mother to go to York to shop with him but she had a migraine and didn’t want to go, so he was sitting in the dinning room (in the front of the house) building something with his son when he heard me screaming! He said he’d never had CPR training and had no idea what to do he just did it! THANK GOD! Ali also said, “Only in Glen Rock would a man on a tractor drive by to try to save someone!” Apparently, I screamed so loudly that people a couple streets away heard me and called the police because they thought someone was drowning in the creek!

We had lots of prayers! We had people all over Pennsylvania, in Illinois, Oklahoma, West Virginia, New Jersey, Florida, and even in Romania!! Thank you to all who prayed for my little girl. She is alive by God’s mercy! Jesus held her hand through it all and here she is at home with me laughing and smiling!

P.S.  I just want to say thank you to my sister Hannah who dialed 911 and (even thought she was crying and upset) calmly talked to the operator, unlike me.  She did a great, great job and I am so proud of her and the way she reacted during the emergency. 

~My Beautiful Ballerina~
My Beautiful Ballerina

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