26th January 2011
Cot death has been at the forefront after EastEnders focused on the issue in its most controversial storyline ever. An East Lancashire mum talks about the heartbreak when her five-week-old son died suddenly.
IT’S every new mum’s nightmare: Checking on her newborn to find that they’re motionless and have stopped breathing.
But it’s a harrowing moment Lisa Boyle, who lives in Huncoat with her partner Michael, is all too familiar with.
“I was breastfeeding Harrison and he just passed away in my arms,” said the 40-year-old hairdresser.
“He was asleep one moment and then I could see something was wrong.
“It happened in the space of an hour. I moved him and he was floppy and not ‘normal’.
“I shouted to Mick and he tried to resuscitate Harrison as I called an ambulance. "The paramedics couldn’t do anything,” she recalled.
Baby Harrison died at just five weeks old in July 2005.
Tests carried out gave no indication as to a cause of death and it was put down to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) — commonly known as cot death.
Doctors explained the death to Lisa, and partner Mick, 41, saying that cot death babies are often ‘just too little to cope’ despite Harrison being born healthy at 37 weeks, weighing 6lbs7oz.
Lisa added: “A lot of people associate cot death with finding your baby passed away in the cot. But that’s not always the case.
“Looking back, in a way it was quite nice for us — Harrison was warm and in my arms. "For me, it would have been worse to wake up and find him cold and blue.
A little more than 12 months after Harrison’s death, the couple — who already had a daughter Natalya, now eight — completed their family when son Jakson, four, was born.
The pregnancy had been monitored with support from The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID), as Lisa had also given birth to a stillborn boy, at 39 weeks, before her daughter was conceived.
“Having Jakson was one way of dealing with what had happened,” she said.
“Not replacing one with another, but choosing not to have your options taken away from you. I wanted a baby and a brother for Natalya.
"I was worried all through the pregnancy, and for the first 12 to 18 months, and I’m very protective of the children now.”
TV viewers have been shocked by the recent cot death plot in EastEnders, which saw grieving mother Ronnie Branning, played by Samantha Womack, leave her dead son’s body in the crib of Kat Moon’s healthy son, and take the infant for her own.
The storyline prompted nearly 6,000 complaints and writers have cut some of the plot with a ‘happy ending’ scheduled in coming weeks.
Lisa, said it was a shame the cot death element of the storyline had been over taken by the baby swap debate.
And she backed the new Pendle Baby Safe Project, run by Pendle Council and NHS East Lancashire.
Lisa said she copes with her grief by talking about her experiences. Running her own salon, Hairways in Clayton-le-Moors, she talks regularly to her customers about her family.
She said: “You have to say to yourself that you’ve done everything you can, and you have to think it would have happened whatever you’d done.”