On the morning of July 3rd 2017, I went into my son’s room to wake him for the day. Upon opening the door I could sense something wasn’t right. I remember the pallor of his face as I turned him over. Grey. Porcelain. The right side a galaxy of purple, riddled with pools of blood under the skin. I remember the enormity of the weight I felt the moment his lifeless body was ripped from my arms by my husband’s frantic hands. How he screamed “NO!” in a tone that shook and cracked and wavered far too much for a two letter word. There was the sounds of my husband’s labored breathing as he tried so hard to pump life back into Sloan’s body, hand to chest. Over, and over, and over. Nothing. Justin was sobbing, gasping for air as if subconsciously coaching any part of our baby that was left, to do the same. Help took over, neighbors we’d never met took turns. Pumping. Pumping. Pumping. Nothing.
I felt my entire body go cold, tasted metal in my mouth as I said “He’s gone isn’t he.” Nobody answered me. But everyone knew. I just kept pacing and screaming through sobs.
EMS arrived, ushered us away. “You don’t want to watch this.” Twenty minutes or forever passed. One of them found us and put his hand over ours. “We did everything we could. Would you like to see him?”
I collapsed over my baby’s body, heaving, guttural sobs escaped me. My dad wrapped me up in his arms, holding me while I sobbed into my baby’s still chest, my head spinning out of control.
My husband was in the corner hyperventilating, medics tending to him. What he must have felt inside, the battle he must have been fighting within. To perform CPR on your own child, and to face its ineffectiveness.
We held our baby for the last time, curled up on our couch in a cruel mirror image of all the nights we’d spent rocking him to sleep. Hours passed as our tears fell. I touched his lashes, traced his lips and nose, kissed his cheeks and his downy hair repetitively, until finally it was time to let go forever.
Once they’d taken him, I remember thinking that the quiet that had filled every inch of the room as our world caved in felt like such opposition to the destruction of death.
It took twelve weeks to be told “It is documented as Sudden Infant Death”. He was one day shy of 7 months old, SIDS wasn’t something I had thought we needed to worry about at that age. All the web searches, articles, and studies I'd filled my mind with since his death. I had so desperately hoped the medical examiner would find something, anything, that would explain what had happened. SIDS is not a diagnosis, it gives no explanation, no answers, no questions. Despite mounds of research done for decades, to try and pin point the root of SIDS/SUIDS, it is still a very grey area with no discernible cause. There were no remarkable findings. He was healthy, perfect. There is no closure.
My spirit is forever connected to his. I know I’ll find him in everything I do. I know that connection will keep us afloat when the waves of grief try to drown us. Sloan was our rainbow baby, born after two miscarriages and fertility treatments. He was our warrior baby, true to his name. Death took his body away but it can’t ever take his impact. As the years between our lives and his death stretch on, I will continue to tell his story, to raise awareness, and to bridge support for other bereaved parents.