I used to volunteer in the nursery of a large teaching hospital. I found it a wonderful respite after a day in the corporate trenches where the needs of my charges were so easily met – food, diaper, cuddle. I learned many unexpected lessons in those years which helped prepare me for bringing home my own two precious babies. First, the number of totally panicked first-time fathers, faced with their first major test of fatherhood – the car seat. Some arrived with the car seat still in the box, others with the car seat lying in the trunk or across the back seat. I saw more than a few fathers almost reduced to tears as they attempted to figure out the diagrams that would ensure their long-awaited child survived the trip home from the hospital. When I had my children, we spent about 2 hours figuring out the car seat and practicing strapping in a teddy bear – before I gave birth!
The wonderful nursing staff at the hospital taught valuable care lessons – how to bathe the baby, swaddling, nursing, and burping without breaking the baby’s back (my personal fear). One life skill was missing, unless you signed up separately – Infant CPR. Many expectant parents sign up for birthing classes, but how many of us think to sign up for the CPR class? I’d guess there are a number of reasons why so few people take infant/child CPR – the time (only a few hours, much less than the birthing classes), the cost (fairly low), and maybe the fear factor. I’m pretty matter-of-fact about treating cuts, bruises, broken bones and hurt feelings, but I’m the first to say that facing the thought that my beloved child could die is almost paralyzing. That said, learning CPR can literally be the difference between life and death. An 8-month old choking on a piece of cracker or carrot, an 8-year old who has been stung by a bee for the first time and has a reaction, a 5-year old who got whacked in the chest too hard playing ball with the older neighborhood kids, a pool party where you lose track of your child for just 2 minutes and see them at the bottom of the pool. All terrifying thoughts to any parent, but knowing CPR could literally be the difference between life and death. You teach your children about stranger danger, crossing the street, you watch what they eat and fret over them when they are sick, spending sleepless nights as you reassure yourself that their breathing is normal – do your family a favor – learn CPR as well, it could save their life.