Parenting

My Toddler Drowned on Our Family Vacation–Here’s What I Want You to Know

A 3-year-old can drown in less than one minute: silently and without a struggle. The articles also fail to mention how often (the majority of times) drowning happens when not swimming. I am like any other mom: winging it, doing my best, and depending on parenting guidance from pediatricians and parenting articles. How else am I supposed to know what I am doing? Drowning needs to be addressed with as much concern as newborns sleeping on their backs to sleep, vaccinations, and car seat safety. Drowning is just as deadly and just as preventable. Drowning is a leading cause of death in children, and it needs to be treated as such. Can we please start talking about it?

I want to make it clear that hundreds of pediatricians and other medical professionals have reached out to me about Levi’s story. I am encouraged, humbled, and touched by how many of these influential people are already advocating for water safety and want to continue to be part of this solution. Thank you. I hope to get the same response from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

I used to be the parent who would read a story like this one and immediately start scanning, looking for a loophole, desperate for the detail that would exempt me from this particular nightmare ever being mine. But, it turns out, tragedy does not play fair. My son is gone. And, yet, we are choosing to live a purposeful life in the midst of this ultimate despair.

We have two daughters, Levi’s older sisters, whom he adored, and we cannot let them lose us, too. This pain is unimaginable, but every second is a CHOICE. I am choosing to breathe, choosing to advocate. The pain and darkness threaten to suffocate. But when I choose to turn on the light, I see goodness. People are hearing Levi’s message, questioning why they didn’t know the truth about drowning, taking action.

Photo: Nicole Hughes

We have a chance to change the future, to save sons and daughters, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Trust me, I never imagined myself in the role of water-safety advocate until I was thrust into it by my grief. Drowning is a leading cause of death and is 100 percent preventable. We can do better. We can fix this for our children.

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Nicole Hughes
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Nicole Hughes is the mom of Lily (9), Reese (6), and Levi (forever age 3). Her life was changed when her son drowned in seconds during a non-swim time in June 2018. She will never stop missing her son and is determined to break the stigma around drowning. Follow her journey on levislegacy.com or connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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