The Day My Heart Stood Still

It started on Thanksgiving four years ago. My daughters were recovering from croup. Having dealt with croup for a couple years, it didn’t scare me as much. I knew what to do, and my children recovered quickly. So as I fixed Thanksgiving dinner and heard Caleb (my youngest and 2 at the time) start coughing, I knew he had caught it too.

As night came, I stayed with Caleb, making sure to give him medicine and cool mist breathing treatments. Halfway through the night, he seemed to be getting worse and worse. I finally told Dan that he needed to see the doctor in the morning.

By seven in the morning, having stayed up all night with Caleb, I finally dozed off on the hide-a-bed couch I had been sharing with him. Next thing I know, Philip is waking me up and telling me Caleb was blue. I found Caleb on the floor and screamed for Dan.

Dan immediately started CPR on our son while I called 911. We lived in a small town out in the country and were told it would be faster if we could drive our son to the hospital rather than send out an ambulance.

Caleb continued to labor for breath as we climbed into the car. I will never forget looking back and seeing the faces of my other 3 children in the window of our living room as we drove away. We could not reach anyone to stay with them and with our son dying, we had to trust God would take care of them as we raced to the hospital.

Caleb barely breathed as we raced 90mph down the highway. Then he stopped. His eyes went still and his body limp. It’s that look when the soul has left the body. I can’t describe it, and movies do not capture it.  That look in the eyes that there is no life inside.

In that moment, I felt the most helpless I have ever felt. If I could have, I would have breathed for my son. I would have traded places with him and died in his place. But I couldn’t. Instead, all I could do is cry out to God.

Dan talked me through CPR as I tried to administer to it to my son. His skin was pale blue, his lips too. Nothing.

Then I finally screamed in the car, “God I can’t do it! I need a miracle here!”

Before this point, Dan and I had been through one of the toughest years of our lives. We had lost a job, a home, and almost everything we had. I couldn’t bury a son too.

Then Caleb gasped. A flicker of life came back into his eyes and he looked at me. He could only take a breath every few seconds. I told him to keep breathing, to hold on, because we were almost there.

The hospital staff met us at the door and immediately started working on Caleb. They had no idea what was wrong with him. One of the doctors came to me and said he needed to be transferred to a bigger hospital in the town north of us. So Caleb and I got into an ambulance and raced up to the next town.

The staff there started working on Caleb, doing everything they could to keep him breathing. But they could not stabilize his breathing and could not figure out why he was having problems.

Finally, the pediatrician on call pulled me aside and said she had no idea what she was dealing with and the fact that he had went from a healthy boy to dying in less than 12 hours meant it was something serious. She advised that Caleb be flown to the children’s hospital in Portland.

I hate flying. And the smaller the airplane, the scarier. But one look at my little boy and I knew I would get on that plane, if it could save him.

However, his breathing would not stabilize enough to make the flight safely. And it was coming to the point where they would need to hook him up to a machine to breathe for him.

But again God worked, and Caleb stabilized long enough that we could fly.

So to Portland Caleb and I flew while Dan drove. By now we had finally reached people who could take care of our other kids. I found out later that when our friends arrived at the house, they had found Philip had dressed his sisters and fed them breakfast.

In Portland, the doctors began all sorts of tests. Caleb had to stay in the hospital crib, what we dubbed “the cage.” He wouldn’t stop crying, and that made it hard for him to breathe. Finally, the nurse told me I could go into the “cage” with him. So I crawled in, lay down, and placed Caleb on my chest. Immediately he calmed down and just looked around. I stayed there all night.

It took until that morning for Caleb to stabilize. We stayed there 2 additional days. In the end, no one really knows what happened. The doctors hypothesized that it was a mutant strain of croup never seen. I don’t know.

I am a very logical and factual person. Faith has never come easy for me. But I know within my heart that on that day four years ago, God answered the frantic prayer of a mother and worked a miracle on a dying son.

Because of what happened, Thanksgiving took on a new meaning for Dan and I. All we have to do is look across the table at Caleb and know that God still works miracles. And that we have much to be thankful for.

9 thoughts on “The Day My Heart Stood Still”

  1. Beautiful story of your faithfulness and God’s deliverance. That faith connection is so important. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Liking your story is not enough. I love how you described what was happening around you in a frantic and scary time in your life. God does work miracles. It is sad that at times like this our faith is tested. Thank God that Caleb survived that night and is still surviving. Thank God that your and your husbands faith is stronger. What an amazing example you have shown your other children…that no matter what happens you are always there for them and that God is also with you all. Thank you for sharing your amazing story. May God continue to Bless you all. 😉

  3. Morgan, Thank you for sharing this most personal story about your family! Thank God you knew to call on God and He heard your plea. What a beautifuly testimony you now have to witness God’s faithfulness! And how wonderful that Caleb is still here to prove and remind you daily of the Lord’s faithfulness. I too have four kids and I appreciate every aspect of this. Especially that your oldest had dressed and fed the other two. My kids always came through for me in tough times and it always amazed and blessed me.

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