This past Saturday we returned home from my family's annual beach vacation. This year we spent a relaxing week on the beach of Topsail Island, NC. Our days were spent in the warm sunshine where we played in the sand, swam in the ocean and hunted for shells and sea glass. The weather could not have been more perfect around 80 degrees and sunny all week with a nice breeze!! In the evenings we shared home-cooked dinners and desserts and challenged each other in games of pool or lounged in the hot tub. The only hiccup during our trip was a very terrifying drowning ordeal with Ella. It happened during our 2nd morning on the beach. I went sea glass searching on the beach with Hayden while the rest of my family played in the sand and water. About 10 minutes (and 1/4 to 1/3 mile)into our walk I heard my name being screamed in the distance. I turned to find an empty beach. Something was wrong...my heart sank into my toes. I frantically scanned the area searching for the voice that was yelling my name. I finally saw my mom in the distance on the walk leading from the beach to the house. Her arms were flailing and she was yelling "run Hana, run!!"...so I did. I took off as fast as I could. I knew it was bad, I knew it was Ella. My bare feet were screaming at me as I ran over the sharp shells and stones that covered the beach that morning. Hayden ran behind me. By the time I made it to my mom, who was still screaming at me to run, my legs gave out and things started to go black. She was frantic as she tried to explain how Todd found her face down in the water and I began sobbing uncontrollably. She threw my arm around her neck and practically dragged me the rest of the way to where Todd had Ella lying on her side talking to 911 dispatch while the rest of my family stood crying or in shock. My dad ran to me and began hugging me and blocking me from view of her. I pushed my way through him and knelt beside her. She was gray and unmoving but she was breathing. Relief. I stroked her head and kissed her face and told her how much I loved her. Her little eye lashes fluttered. I knew that she could hear me. Todd was still over her and I could hear him talking to 911 operators and it was obvious they couldn't figure out where we were. Apparently our call had been rerouted to another city and they didn't know where to send help. That feeling was beyond frustrating. I could hear Todd pleading "please please, send someone, we need oxygen now." It was more than 10 min before the first help arrived, police officers who had nothing that could help us. Several minutes later EMS rolled in. They loaded her and Todd into the unit while my mom and I followed behind them. Long story short, she made a full recovery. We still are not 100% sure what happened. Todd and my parents were with her when the accident happened. She was not unattended. Ella was playing in the shallow ocean tide pools and Todd turned briefly to chat with my mom and admire the scenery. Next thing she was face down in the water and not breathing. When he ran and lifted her from the water she began convulsing and her eyes rolled back into her head. She was limp as a noodle and blue. He immediately did what he (as a fireman) was trained to do and began CPR. I cannot imagine what those moments must have felt like and I feel blessed that I was not present to see her little body that way. God was protecting me then and I am grateful. I'm so proud of my husband for reacting quickly and saving her life. The reality of what happened overwhelmed him later in the day as we sat in the hospital and I saw the tears fall from his eyes. No amount of training can prepare you to deal with a life and death situation with your own child. However, had he not been present coupled with the slow emergency response time I'm not sure we would have had the same ending. I am thankful that God protected our sweet girl that day. We thoroughly enjoyed the remainder of our vacation and Ella is doing wonderfully. I don't think she has any memory of the event b/c she was ready the next day to go back out to the water and had no fear (although we were fearful for her and hovered over her)! We are incredibly blessed and forever thankful to God for giving us such a spunky and sweet little girl. Life is fragile and precious and every day is a blessing. Here are some photos from our trip. The final few show Ella sleeping after the ordeal along with the little stuffed pony she received from hospital staff to help comfort her. She sleeps with it and her handmade owl (given to her by EMS during the ambulance ride) every night.
ETA: I wanted to add a HUGE thank you to all of you who prayed for Ella and us after seeing my plea on FB after she was loaded into the ambulance. We were overwhelmed with the response of comments, messages, texts and calls that we received in such a short time. My phone went off like crazy and we truly are thankful to have so many people in our lives who were willing to stop and pray for us during such a terrifying moment! It made a difference! Thank you thank you thank you!!! We love u all!!!