I am sharing my experience of child loss from SIDS, not to create fear, but as a way to raise more awareness and understanding of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It’s a story written from my heart.
That second you discover you are pregnant, WOW, the big high of excitement, then there comes a big low of fearing you could lose this tiny miracle growing inside of you… remember those memories and feelings? I do so very well.
When motherhood finally begins, it is a big ‘hello’ to a whole new chapter of worries. When my second child Johnny was born, I didn’t have the great fears of a first time mum, as his sister was 19 months old.
On Johnny’s six month milestone we celebrated with chocolate cupcakes. That night I put him to bed and I am so glad in my rush to get my toddler off to bed too, I managed to say the words, “I love you son, sweet dreams”.
The next day I thought our son had slept through for the first time, but as soon as I opened the door and looked at my son, I instantly knew. It was the beginning of the end of our lives as we knew it.
It was surreal. I blamed and hated myself, a maternal guilt that consumed me. I honestly wanted to die. I wanted to be with him. I was so angry and confused that he had left me.
The wait for the autopsy report felt like its own form of torture. Was it an accidental death? Was he sick? Or was it SIDS? Did I do something wrong? Will my other child die? So many questions and no answers.
How did I get through it? A part of me still doesn’t know, but I do remember contacting a Red Nose Counsellor and getting my own private Psychologist and Psychiatrist and a Marriage Counsellor. (My marriage did end but we remain good friends.)
Accepting I was not the same person I was before Johnny passed away was a very hard and long process. A couple of years later I needed in-patient treatment to learn to deal with it properly. The thing I have learnt is that there is no wrong or right way to deal with the loss of a child, hence why there are just no words to describe it.
I finally chose to live my life and I knew a great burden of loss, heartache and sadness came with that. I found my new love and married him and had a Rainbow Baby through IVF’s, she is Johnny’s miracle. Although I have found my way and the wound of my heart started to heal, I also realised the horrific scar will always remain. Something I learn to accept a little more every day.
Its been six and a half years since Johnny passed away from SIDS. But our Johnny is eternal, he is the little boy who lives on the moon. His legacy lives on in all of us, especially his big sister. He is our son, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend forever, no matter what. I will always speak of him and I love when people talk to me about him.
They are never ever forgotten,
Sarah’s Words of Wisdom:
•• Contact Red Nose and always follow all the advice you get from them about safe sleeping and cot safety (accident prevention).
•• Each October SANDS hold The Walk to Remember on the Esplanade. It is a beautiful way to honour our babies who have passed away, something some parents need to help keep their spirit alive.
•• Consider having local artists, like Hayley Gillespie (pictured above) or Melanie from Beyond the Willow Tree, paint a beautiful picture or make jewellery from ashes and hair. These priceless art memories really helped me when I was hurting and needed love and support to heal.
•• I wish I’d known about Angel Gowns. They provide parents with a specially crafted outfit for their loved one’s final journey. I have since donated both my wedding gowns to them.
SIDS is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old.
Red Nose (formerly Sids and Kids) each year raises money to fund continued research, educational kits for new parents and counselling sessions for people affected by sudden and unexpected death of a baby
or child. Red Nose Day is on Friday 30th June.
SANDS provides support, information and education to anyone affected by the death of a baby before, during or shortly after birth.