On her first Mother’s Day, Amber Dyck posted a photo of her son on Facebook, and a message: “I would walk through fire for you.”
Three days later, the Morinville, Alta. mom jumped out of her second-floor bedroom window, clutching her baby to her chest as her house was engulfed in flames. She fell about six metres, hitting a BBQ on the way down and landing on her back, fracturing vertebrae in her spine.
Her son, seven-month-old Daemon, wasn’t injured.
“I thought, ‘I’ve got to jump,’” Dyck told CBC News as she recovered in the hospital. “So I did.”
Some people might be shocked that a person would hurl themselves from a burning building, TRY to land on their back to cushion their child, and live to tell the tale. But stories of moms saving their children with seemingly superhuman abilities— like lifting a car, wrestling a polar bear, and giving CPR to one triplet while birthing the other two— pop up again and again.
WATCH: Moms who have saved their children’s lives. Story continues below.
The rather unfortunate name for the incredible phenomenon is “hysterical strength,” and while the science behind it isn’t completely understood, it’s thought to be a result of the adrenaline rush people get in high-risk situations.
Motivation is key to ‘hysterical strength’
One of the biggest factors in hysterical strength is motivation, Dr. E. Paul Zehr, a professor of neuroscience and kinesiology at the University of Victoria, previously told BBC in a 2016 interview.
“If you’re in a situation where it’s all risk, and the reward is that you live, you’re going to risk everything,” Zehr said.
Feats of hysterical strength are also possible because humans are actually stronger than we realize, BBC points out. Essentially, we use as little energy as needed for day-to-day tasks, and keep the rest in reserve.
“Your muscles are normally activated in a very certain way that’s really efficient,” Zehr said. “Why use your whole muscle mass to lift up a cup of coffee?”
In 2018, another Canadian mom showed superhuman strength — this time while in childbirth, which is a superhuman strength on its own.
Danielle Johnston was able to save her newborn triplets’ lives by resuscitating one of them while giving birth to the other two. After going into early labour at home on her farm near Griffin, Sask., and delivering the first baby, who wasn’t breathing, Johnston gave her daughter CPR while waiting 45 minutes for an ambulance to take them to the hospital.
“I don’t think you have any choice. You just do it,” she previously told HuffPost Canada.
In 2006, northern Quebec mom Lydia Angyiou fought off a polar bear to save her sons. The bear weighed at least 700 pounds, and the five-foot-even Angyiou only weighs about 90, the Globe and Mail reported.
She told her children to run, then kicked, punched, and wrestled the massive animal until someone else could shoot it.
“I’m surprised she went and did this. But I guess when your back is up against the wall, I guess we come up with super-human strength,” a fellow villager in the community of Ivujivik told the Globe and Mail.
Dyck, the Alberta mom who jumped from her bedroom window to save her son, told CBC that she woke up around 4:20 a.m. that fateful morning to see smoke and a bright light outside her door.
She grabbed Daemon from his room, called 9-1-1, but after 15 minutes, the smoke was too thick. Her two dogs had passed out. She held her baby outside her bedroom window so he could breathe, she told CBC.
And then she decided to jump.
“How she managed to shield Daemon from serious injury I don’t know – but she did,” Dyck’s fiancee’s brother said in a Go Fund Me page set up for the family.
There was nothing to break her fall, he added.
Dyck was released from the hospital after 10 days, CBC reported. Her two dogs, Banner and Baisley, died in the fire.
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