By Robbie Owens

CEDAR HILL, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The warnings about dwindling pediatric ICU beds had been coming for weeks. Then suddenly, an “always cautious” Cedar Hill family learned that they hadn’t been careful enough.

“It’s very real, and it’s terrifying,” shared mother of two, Amanda Reaves. “Once we got moved to the ICU, that’s when it really hit.”

It all started one night during dinner. Reaves says she suddenly lost her sense of taste. Although her 8 and 10-year-old children were planning to start the new school year the following day, it was a COVID-19 test that followed.

Reaves and her 8-year-old son both tested positive.

He was asymptomatic, but it took several tests and worsening symptoms before 10-year-old Mackylah was diagnosed.

When her breathing became labored, her doctor recommended they head to the hospital. Upon arrival, the family immediately began receiving care, but no beds were available in the ICU.

Each moment was heartbreaking, Reaves said.

Mackylah Reaves (credit: Reaves family)

“To see all the machines going, the oxygen in her nose, not being able to sit up, not being able to eat because she’s so dehydrated,” recalls Reaves.

Medical experts had warned that the delta variant of the virus was spreading rapidly among children– and making them sicker– sending so many to the hospital that area pediatric ICUs were being pushed to capacity.

Shy and soft spoken, the 10-year-old with autism told CBS 11 that she was “traumatized” by the battle to survive COVID-19.

Adding that it was “hard to breathe,” she was “losing her balance” and that there were “lots of needles and machines.”

Meanwhile, her mom says she was fighting to keep her mind from racing to worst-case scenarios.

“It’s indescribable, really,” shared Reaves. “I think that’s what kind of made me realize this is bad. They have a toilet next to you because you can’t sit up, get up and go to the restroom without running out of breath. That’s just a lot to me. That reality is a lot.”

Now recovered, Mackylah would much rather show off her artwork. Her mother, however, feels she owes a duty to her healthcare heroes to try and warn others.

“It’s just terrifying, a really awful experience and I don’t wish that on anyone,” said Reaves.

Although her family was exposed before classes resumed, Reaves is pushing for all schools to mandate masks, saying it needs to happen for all of the kids who won’t be just fine.

“I can’t imagine subjecting another family to go through what we just went through and if a mask is going to help prevent that, or a vaccine is going to help prevent that, just do it.”