The Day Benjamin Almost Drowned

By Tami DeVine
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Benjamin at 18 months old. Photo by Karen Cooley
Benjamin at 18 months old. Photo by Karen Cooley.
We saw him fall in and start to go underwater. Benjamin did not know how to swim. Suddenly, every parent's worst nightmare was playing out in front of me.

My son Benjamin died when he was born. But doctors resuscitated him. The umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck. The pain during labor was so bad I remember feeling like I was going to die. Doctors realized I was in trouble, put me under, and quickly performed a c-section. Then they had to revive Benny. As any mom would, I wept when I woke up and learned what happened.

Both of my pregnancies were tough. I lost twenty pounds with each boy because almost everything I ate made me nauseous the entire time. Beau, my oldest, also had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck during delivery. Doctors performed a c-section on me to get him out as well after his blood pressure kept dropping with each contraction.

Allergies and Eczema

Beau was four months old, and Benjamin was two when we discovered that each boy was allergic to almost every food they ate. So I had to nurse them for two and three years, respectively. I lost 80 pounds with Beau and about 40 with Ben.

They also suffered from severe eczema. Each new food made the boys break out in hives. Then they’d scratch them until the bumps bled. We took Beau twice to the emergency room, and Ben was in the hospital for six days after parts of his skin would peel off like parchment, and other parts would weep and ooze. As a mom of two children suffering from special needs, those first few years with each boy were unbelievably trying. Getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep was a parental luxury.

But now, Beau is 12 and Benjamin is 6. They are off the charts energetic, healthy and happy. This forty-something-year-old mom can no longer keep up with them, but I sure do try! Needless to say, we share a close bond.

Bishop Castle

We recently visited a world-famous landmark near Pueblo. It’s a stone castle built by hand by one man over decades. It’s still considered a construction site and dangerous, but hundreds of people were there the day we went. Beau and Benny insisted on going to the top of the tallest spire. The steps were steep, narrow, and never-ending, some with gaping holes.

With my heart in my throat, I joined them. Silly mommy. I was so out of breath as we neared the top, I nearly passed out and had to sit and rest awhile.

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Lake Isabel

We made it down safely and drove a few miles back the way we came, arriving at Lake Isabel. As we walked along the water, my husband Chavel kept telling Benjamin, “Get back! You’re too close to the water!”

Benny is our fearless warrior. We always say if Beau ever became president, Benjamin would probably be head of his secret service. Benny ran back and forth, showing us algae and rocks he found near the water. He grabbed a wet stick and waved it at his dad, who retaliated by dousing him from a water bottle. Ben ran back to the lake with the stick.

He Started Going Under

But this time, he got too close. His little foot slipped, and we saw him fall in and start to go underwater. Benjamin did not know how to swim. Suddenly, every parent’s worst nightmare was playing out in front of me. My child was in mortal danger. Everything went quiet, and I felt like I was running in slow motion. As any mom would do, I jumped in the water. Without thinking, I grabbed him with my right hand to pull him up. I then realized my phone was still in my left hand, and I threw it onto the bank.

He was going under again. This time I grabbed him with both hands and pulled him up. Then I hauled him onto the bank, both of us soaking wet. Chavel grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the lake. We were all in shock. The whole thing probably took a few seconds, but for me, it felt like an eternity.

What’s All This Red Stuff?

After we all calmed down and started walking toward the truck, Benny pulled his hand from mine and said, “What’s all this red stuff?” Blood covered his hand. My heart lept. Was he hurt? Could he still be in danger?

Then I saw the gash. It was me. I felt a tremendous sense of relief that Benny was ok. But my left pinky finger wasn’t. It was pumping blood out quickly, and I could see white stuff coming out of the deep cut. I must have hit my hand on a rock after I threw the phone and reached to pull him up out of the water.

Adrenaline Rush

Through the adrenaline rush, I couldn’t feel anything. In the moment, the only thing I could think of was making sure my boy did not die.

Benjamin survived death from an umbilical cord wrapped twice around his neck. He survived hospitalization from food allergies and severe eczema. He even survived scary winding staircases high up inside Bishop Castle. I was not about to let him drown.

Hubby wrapped a makeshift paper towel bandage around my pinky to stop the bleeding. About a half-hour down the highway, the adrenaline subsided, and I felt the pain. It hurt, but the cut was a wound I was glad to bear in exchange for Benny’s safety.

Grateful

I was just grateful. Grateful that Benny was alive and well, grateful for the natural instinct God had instilled in me as a mom to protect my child, and grateful for the Holy Spirit’s whisper to help me see what was happening and move fast to keep Benny from drowning.

Moms understand well that instinct to protect their children. Does this sound familiar? When I’m watching my kids play or walking with them as they roll around on their various wheels, I’ve outlined in my head at least half a dozen potential dangerous situations within their area of play. I can see the dangers that speeding car, the angry dog, a rocky patch, the low-hanging branch might pose for my kids. I’ve also decided what I’ll do in each case. It’s a split-second thought. On this day, I had also planned what to do if Benny did fall in.

Still, I can’t protect my children 24/7. But I know the One who loves and cares for them more than I do. The One who can protect them all day, every day. So I just pray a lot.

I pray the Lord keeps both my boys safe from dangers seen and unseen. And I pray that we don’t have any more “adventures” like the one at Lake Isabel.

© 2020 by Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. 

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