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Updated: May 4, 2019

Guilt. Fear. Shame.  

These were the themes running through my head as I followed the ambulance my toddler was in.

Minutes before, our family was enjoying some time at a hotel pool in our former hometown. Our family of six included four kiddos under age nine and swimming was always a traveling treat made extra special when we had the whole pool to ourselves like this.  

I was finishing up a conversation with my husband, Aaron, when our tired, two-year-old walked up fussing about his water floaties. I too was exhausted from traveling and chose not to invest my mom energy in this “teachable moment” tantrum. As the ambulance pulled into the hospital parking lot, I wished I had.

Instead, I unhooked the floatie’s back latch while mid-sentence with Aaron. We told Bo Christian to sit in the chair furthest from the pool and at our round table where he faced Aaron and I just 30-ish inches away. I thought I was doing a good job watching him. I’m an engaged mom and function “all-in”. But, we got momentarily lost deep in our discussion and mixed with the fatigue, we didn’t even notice our little guy get up. When I shouted, “Where is Bo?!” we all scanned the area until my seven-year-old pointed and calmly said, “There.”  

Like a marathon sprinter, Aaron jumped into the deep end of the pool to collect what looked to be the lifeless body of our son floating at least two feet under the surface. Time seemed to pause into slow motion. My brain started to click with every, practical, next step and I yelled for Aaron to call 911. His wet hands struggled to navigate the glass screen as both of us instinctively knew every second counted. With Aaron still fumbling with his phone, I yelled for our oldest to alert the front desk to call 911 while I did all I knew to do.

Nothing in the background was noticeable - only what was in front of me. I surveyed this little figure; bloated, distended chest, unconscious, and blue. Bo’s eyes were closed and his body made absolutely no indication that life was left in it.  

It seemed like it was just me, my son, and the peace of God in a solitary moment that instantaneously seemed to also last ten.  What I did next, I pray no mother ever has to do. I pressed my lips to his purple ones in order to breathe my life into his. It was as if God was right there with me and knew my pleading and anxious thoughts when there wasn’t time to call on Him in conscious prayer.

My CPR skills were outdated and average at best, yet I continued my clunky attempt until without even a whimper, Bo simply opened his eyes and sat up. As he reached for my lap, the hotel staff came running in, then, the medics.  I answered a few questions before the medical team whisked Bo off to the hospital with Aaron. The hotel staff was sweet to console me as I quickly herded kids from the pool area to our room. I then dressed three, terrified and wet kids lightning fast while announcing over and over, “God is good, guys. We can trust Him. God has Bo. God sees us and is faithful.”  

Behind the wheel of the car, I had to will myself to believe those words. With the gravity of the situation setting in, I begged God to fix whatever was broken in Bo’s body from being submerged for what we estimate was at least five minutes. I knew drowning typically occurred between four and six minutes and this situation already proved to be miraculous.  

Finally inside the ER, a hospital employee and friend raced us back to Bo’s examination room while another friend took the rest of the kids. I held back tears as I returned the joyful smile Bo Christian gave signaling how glad he was to see me.   

It wasn’t until the nurse questioned us that we realized just how profoundly miraculous this outcome was. A wet phone, CPR ignorance, followed by no vomiting and no spewing of water, yet, our son had not a drop of water in his lungs and an entirely normal blood/oxygen level. No brain damage, no physical residual, just perfectly healthy. We looked at one another in awe knowing we had witnessed the hand of God. Aaron and I held our precious son together and sang the old hymn “Amazing Grace” over him.   

Miracle or not, guilt, fear, and shame drove home with me from the hospital. I refused to let them stay long and I woke up the next morning committed to laying yesterday’s nightmare aside. As the sun was starting to come out, I walked to the very table our trauma unfolded at just 24 hours before. I sat down and opened up my Bible in defiant protest to my emotions. I was determined my faith in God’s faithfulness would win my battle, and any future battle, with my fear.  

The pool-area walls were covered in windows and with the warm sun and truth of God’s word seeping in, I only faintly heard the door open. I was too engrossed to know who walked in until he was right in front of my table. It was the hotel manager from the day before doing his rounds at the exact same time I happened to be sitting there. We were bound together by a traumatic experience and his face showed the camaraderie I felt, too. We could truly empathize with one another. In fact, he took the time to come over and check on how our family was recovering and yet I sensed his initiation was due in part to his own desperate search for healing.