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Ethan in his hospital bed
Courtesy photo
Ethan in his hospital bed

Strength and the single mom

Pro-Life Reality | Megan Dancisak finds grace to keep going after her son battles a terrifying illness

This is the fourth installment of our reality series about Megan Dancisak, 27, and her son Ethan. She has the pleasure of raising him, and the hardship of doing so as a single mom. Read the first chapter of Dancisak’s story to find out how she chose life for her son when she had no idea how she could afford to raise him.

Everything seemed fine when Megan Dancisak put down her 19-month-old son to bed Thursday night. With Ethan in his crib, Dancisak stayed up decorating the apartment for her roommate’s 1980s-style birthday party the next night. At around 1:30 a.m., she felt a weird sinking feeling, a mother’s intuition. She thought she heard something coming from Ethan’s room, so she opened the door to find him sitting up and wheezing as he labored to breathe.

“I’m not one to just go to the ER because he’s always been a healthy baby, he’s never had an issue,” Dancisak said. “When I heard that, I panicked because this is not normal. He was barely getting air in.”

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She picked him up, held him tight, and kept repeating “It’s OK, breathe with mommy.” In her mind, she ran through every possible scenario. Was he choking? Did he have an allergic reaction? An asthma attack? Or just a bad dream? He started wailing. She decided she’d have to take him to the hospital even though it would cost her $150 that she didn’t have.

Without even a jacket or Ethan’s shoes, she ran out the door and drove to the nearby hospital. On the ride over, terror gripped her heart. In her rearview mirror, she saw Ethan dozing off and feared he would pass out. She tried to keep him alert from the driver’s seat as she sped to the hospital. Unable to get the words out to pray, she just kept crying out “Jesus.”

The ER at West Hills Hospital was nearly deserted at 2 a.m., and soon they were called in to see a doctor. He said that Ethan had croup, an easily treatable respiratory condition caused by an acute viral infection in the throat. The doctor gave Ethan a steroid and a breathing treatment, then told him to rest for a bit. At one point Ethan threw up on Danisak, but without someone to watch her boy, she couldn’t leave to clean herself off.

“There are times when I’m really aware that I’m lacking a physical partner,” Dancisak said. “Someone to hold this baby while I wipe puke off or when I’m about to pee down my leg. It was so frustrating.”

But support poured in from other places. Friends who were up late saw a Facebook post Dancisak wrote about Ethan. They texted to say they were praying for her and offered to help in any way. She praised God that the medication quickly kicked in and Ethan was back to breathing normally. As she sat in the hospital, she heard other babies’ cries and realized other mothers would not be as lucky as she was. Overwhelmed with compassion, she started praying for the other sick babies and worried mothers.

“Not everyone gets out of here alive,” she said. “It could have been Ethan’s turn. God had favor and grace. … I was blown away that the Holy Spirit was working through me even then. I’m naturally a selfish person, so seeing an area where I’m more empathetic, I see how God is really softening my heart.”

By 4 a.m. doctors cleared Ethan to leave the hospital. Exhausted, Dancisak brought her son home and slept for three hours before she had to get ready for work at 9 a.m. Friday was the grand re-opening of the T-Mobile store where she worked, so all the nearby store managers and district managers would be present.

Not knowing how she would make it through the day, she prayed for supernatural strength.

The prayer was answered: A district manager approached her to say she was proud of Dancisak and her work designing the store’s new accessories sections. Dancisak, who studied fashion merchandizing and visual marketing, said “I wasn’t doing it for any other reason than I love doing that.”

The compliment boosted Dancisak’s confidence in dreams she has for a future career—a dream she’s had to put on hold as she provides for and raises Ethan. She wants to be a personal stylist helping women revamp their wardrobes and going deeper to address the insecurity in their hearts.

“We all dress with motives in mind. It’s based on the reaction we’ll get, the culture, different behaviors, but if all things are centered on Christ, how different would your wardrobe actually be?” she asked. Before she became a Christian, she viewed clothing mainly as a way to gain attention and attract men. With a new outlook on life and a baby in tow, she’s reconsidered how to balance caring about her appearance with getting her affirmation solely from God.

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