Posted by: Trigger | 15 January, 2008

Sisterly Love.

It’s funny that I wrote about my family yesterday, because after something that happened today, I have the overwhelming urge to write about a family anecdote from way back when.

It kind of came to me in a funny way this afternoon. I was in a Basic Life Support renewal training course, getting my annual refresher dose of practice and information, when we came to the part of the course about infants and obstructed airways. Which, it turns out, I have first hand experience with.

When the twins were born, I was 10. And I fell head over heels in love with them. I remember waking up on the day they were born, to BigCityBrother (then he was just my annoying older brother) shaking me awake, asking if I wanted to talk to Mom (I remember thinking, “okay weirdo, whatever, I’ll talk to Mom”), and throwing the phone at my head from the door across the room. I shot straight up out of bed, realizing that this could mean only one thing: I had new baby siblings. I mean, we’d been through this drill once before in the pregnancy, because Mom started to go into labor; but on that morning, when we were uncertain whether the babies would be born months to early or if they had successfully stopped labor, everyone was somber and overly courteous. I mean, please and thank yous, and can I get pass the cereal to you at the breakfast table overly courteous (which NEVER happens in a big family, lemmetellya). But if BigCityBrother was cavalier enough to throw the phone at me – then – BABIES! And that day, although I was a tomboy (who played four sports, but also was a classical ballet student), and although I hated pink, I got out the pinkest, frilliest, girliest dress I owned and wore it to 5th grade. To celebrate the youngest siblings. And my love for them (and them for me) only grew from there.

With GirlTwin, we always joke about how she loves me best. How she HAS to love me best. Because she owes me her life.

I know that yesterday I talked about how different we all are. And it does make things interesting and fun. But one common thread? The one thing that all five siblings and both parents share? Is that in our own ways, we are all extremely, ridiculously, obstinately, stubborn. I mean, for real stubborn. GirlTwin, although the most reserved, polite and timid of all of us, is no exception. Even at a year or so, when she could only totter around the room and still had little baby brown’n’serve rolls for arms and legs, she was stubborn.

One morning, minutes before I ran off to middle school, my mom asked me to hang out with the twins while she went upstairs. I don’t remember why she was up there, probably to put on make-up for the day, or maybe to shower, or perhaps just to go to the bathroom in a little bit of privacy (for small tottering children will rarely stop tottering after you, even when you have to visit the can). Our house has two sets up stairs branching off the main level – one to the upper level, where my mom went that morning. The other, downstairs to the family room and garage. I was sitting just on the other side of the baby gate blocking off the lower stairs, tying my shoes and watching the twins from behind that little plastic gate.

BoyTwin was totally consumed by some animated something or other on TV (probably Lion King, as I’m pretty sure that movie was on a loop for the first three years of their lives). And GirlTwin was wandering around, near me. I watched as she stooped down to the carpet, and I saw something glint suggestively like metal as she brought her hand to her mouth, and then I watched her open her mouth and put the mystery object inside. Kids LOVE to stick things in their mouth when they are small – I think it’s how they go through the world at that stage, experiencing it and figuring it out, one taste at a time.

Whatever it was, I knew it didn’t belong in her mouth. And it became quite clear that SHE knew it didn’t belong there either, when I asked her to “please spit that out.” She looked at me, shook her head, and said, “No.” She wasn’t upset, she wasn’t joking around, she was just – stubborn. Stubborn and not removing that glinty metallic treasure from her mouth.

Because she loved me best then (and still now), I tricked her into coming over to meet me at the gate. She waddled over (not potty trained, still with a diaper on, thus, the waddling), got about six inches from me, and threw her arms out to me, across the baby gate. I scooped her up, and said, “Say, AHHHHH!”

She said “Ahh—” and as I reached in with one index finger, she figured out exactly what I was up to, clamped down on my hand and swallowed that little object faster than you can say “hakuna matata.” Which is probably what was Pumba and Timon were singing on screen right then.

I have never seen a living, breathing being go blue so fast. All my instincts kicked into hyperdrive, and without thinking, I flipped her over to her back, delivered about three and a half back thrusts, before the little metal whatever (I think it was the back to a lapel pin) went shooting 10 feet in front of us, followed in short succesion by GirlTwin’s baby cereal shooting straight onto my foot. She hiccupped, cried for about five seconds, and I sat her down on the other side of the gate, not quite sure about what had just transpired.

My mom came downstairs just moments later, saw me looking completely blank and absent, saw two happy and healthy little toddlers running around, and was mystified as to what had been going on in her absence. I related the story to her, changed my shoes, and gave everyone a hug before I left to walk to school.

And mostly, it’s a funny story. A blip on the Trigger Family History radar. A story about silly, stubborn GirlTwin, and how she should have listened to me, if she would have known what was good for her. A reason to tease my sister that she owes me, no, she REALLY owes me!

But today? In my training course? I thought about that moment in time, when I was lucky enough to know what to do to save my sister’s life. And for just a second I pondered how different life would be if I hadn’t known that simple technique for choking babies. And after my eyes start to mist with the unthinkable “what-if” – I shook my head, and started to listen to the instructor as she moved on to how to treat an unconscious choking victim. Because it’s not important what might have been, in this case all that matters is the happy ending.

And she still has to love me best, you know.



  1. You’re my hero. Really.

  2. That is so sweet. I’m positive she loves you best 🙂

  3. Wow. She totally has to love you best!

  4. Wow, she actually went BLUE!? That had to have been really scary for a middle-schooler. Sweet story. 🙂

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