Every Parent’s Nightmare

I dislike the phrase “every parent’s nightmare.” It’s been so overused that it has become a watered-down cliché. Truth is, there’s probably only one nightmare that every parent shares…and that is the fear of losing your child.

Last week, that nightmare became a reality for the family members, friends and loved ones of 20 precious little boys and girls and six adults (who were also someone’s children) in Connecticut.

I can’t imagine what those parents are going through right now. It’s horrific. And you find yourself wondering how the world continues around you when yours has stopped.

I thought I was going to lose my 5-year-old son, Morgan. Friday night, around 9:00 p.m., he woke up from his sleep and said he was sick. He went to the bathroom and tried to throw up.

young boy in hospital bed Then, without warning, his face changed. His eyes rolled back into his head, his body went limp, and he was unresponsive. My wife and I tried to get him to snap out of it, shouting his name, tapping his face, trying to make eye contact.


We started to drive him to the hospital. On the way, he threw up. I’m not sure he even knew it.

His beautiful blue eyes stared off into space as the fluid poured out of his mouth. We called 911 while we were en route, and an ambulance met us halfway and took him to the ER from there.

He stayed in this “catatonic” state during the entire ambulance ride. Within seconds of arriving at the hospital, doctors had him lying on a bed, with wires and tubes connected everywhere.

“He’s barely breathing,” one doctor said. So they immediately shoved a tube down his throat, another up his nose. They turned on the respirator to get him breathing normally.

And I lost it.

I was helpless. Watching my baby boy’s limp body on that hospital bed, struggling to breathe, and not knowing what to do or how to do it.

I was…weak. Impotent. And absolutely horrified. I sobbed. I felt nauseous.

Images of life without my son popped into my head. My world was being torn apart right in front of me. My wife and I prayed. We started contacting friends asking them to pray as well. I have not cried so hard in years.

Then, after nearly two gut-wrenching hours, he sat up. He looked around the room. Fear covered his face. The horror in his eyes.

He looked at me and screamed — as best as he could scream with a tube down his throat. As awful as that scream was, it was progress.

Five days and several tests later, Morgan is back to being a normal, rambunctious little boy. Doctors discovered he had suffered an occipital lobe epileptic seizure. The good news is, he’ll likely outgrow it.

blonde child with blue eyes

And in the meantime, anti-seizure medication will help prevent future episodes. I praise God for protecting my baby boy.

The right doctors, the right equipment, his decision to get up and alert us that he was sick just moments before he went into the seizure, the call to 911 at the right moment…God’s fingerprints were everywhere.

Then I think about the parents around the world who don’t have access to ambulances, emergency rooms, EEGs, MRIs, CT scans and the like.

As helpless as I felt watching my son surrounded by doctors and medics with machines hooked up to him, I can’t imagine how helpless a mother or father must feel in the developing world where this type of technology and help is too far out of reach.

What does a family do, when living in extreme poverty, if their child experiences what my Morgan did? The answer all too often is, sadly, nothing. And many children are lost every single day. Thousands of parents who live the nightmare that I prayed so desperately to avoid last Friday night.

That’s why I’m proud to be part of the Compassion family. We have a fund designed just for this purpose — to meet the emergency medical needs of our sponsored children. This holiday season, my family is making a donation to this fund.

If, God forbid, a child in one of the poorest parts of the world has a dire medical need, this fund makes sure that mommy and daddy can get their child the help he or she needs. Just this past year, the fund helped a little boy in Africa get a life-saving heart surgery.

boy in hospital bed in elevator

If you sponsor a child, thank you. You could very well be saving a life. Please consider adding an extra donation this holiday season to the medical needs fund.

If you don’t currently sponsor a child, here’s your chance. Get involved.

Because no parent should have to face the nightmare of losing a child simply because they can’t afford help.

9 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Tondja Colvin December 24, 2012

    Tim, we are so fortunate. I was so glad that your son recovered. Your experience is every parents nightmare.

  2. Lizzie December 23, 2012

    You have a beautiful boy. I am so glad that he is well. We are so blessed!

  3. Kees Boer December 21, 2012

    Hi, Tim, I’m so glad that your child is right. It is a horrific thing when a child dies.

    I remember in the summer of 2010, I was in a project in Bolivia BO561 (the one featured in the Compassion mobile experience) There was a mother there with her child. She was carrying the baby in a cloth called an aguayo on my back. She was very friendly and the baby was very friendly.

    Then when I returned to the center in 2011, I asked about the mother. I was told that the baby had died and the parents had gotten so discouraged that they quit attending the church. They were so sad. When I returned in 2012, they were back in the church again.

    This is the video of the event. Please, pray for her:


  4. Tim December 21, 2012

    So sorry to hear about your niece. I pray for healing for her, comfort for your family. It’s so scary, isn’t it? My wish is that no parent, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, would have to deal with this.
    Blessings…and thanks for reading.

  5. Tim December 21, 2012

    Thanks for doing your part to help a child in poverty.
    It is amazing, isn’t it, when we make that connection? You realize they are mommies and daddies who love their kids and want the best for them too.
    Thanks for reading. I hope you will share.

  6. Jill Foley December 21, 2012

    Tim – thank you for sharing this and for showing us yet another part of Compassion’s holistic ministry. I’m so thankful your son is ok and is back to normal.

    My 2 year old niece was taken to the hospital this morning and has had several seizures. This is not the first time in her young life, but it’s the first time in quite a while so we are all concerned and praying.

    I’m off to do some shopping in the Compassion catalog and will likely add a little to the medical needs fund.

  7. Jen December 21, 2012

    I am still stunned by this post. I have 3 and 5 year old girls (we had the horrible stomach virus last week), and I can’t imagine what it would be like to watch them almost stop breathing. And to not be able to call 911…

    We have been Compassion sponsors for a long time, but this morning, my heart made a link as a PARENT that it hadn’t made before. Thank you.

  8. Tim December 20, 2012

    Thanks Lisa. Yes, our kids do make life wonderful. Scary sometimes, just how vulnerable they are. Protect, protect, protect.

  9. Lisa Miles December 20, 2012

    Thanks for posting this. Children are the most lovable, valuable and vulnerable in our society. They make life wonderful. Anything we can do to protect and care for them is worth it.

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