Monday, 2 May 2011

SIDS: A parent's account of her experience

In spite of much ongoing research, sudden infant death syndrome remains a mystery. There are many theories, but as yet, no conclusive explanation. In 1994, SIDS took the lives of 4,073 babies in the United States and 269 in Canada. From 1995 to 2010 SIDS took the lives of 166,000 babies in the United States and 12,000 in Canada.
Most who fall victim to this syndrome die between the second and the fourth month of life. The babies are happy and healthy when tucked into their cribs in the evening. But when the parents look in on them the next morning, they find them dead.
What makes the situation even more difficult for parents after a sudden infant death is that the police are frequently called to investigate whether the baby had been neglected or abused. A coroner’s examination may be ordered. The majority of officials behave with tact and respect, but not all of them. The overzealous police officer that came to my home on April 24th, 2008 was not so respectful and tried to blame me for my daughter’s death. All I can remember is yelling at him and telling him to get the hell out of my house.
At 8am my daughter was alive and well. She was still asleep and so was my 5-year-old son so I went back to bed. I was awakened by a phone call from my mom at 11:11am and thought it was strange that Zenzi (that is my daughter’s name) had not woken me up. As I walked down the hallway I had a horrible feeling and knew something was wrong. She was laying on her back slightly titled to the left with the blanket a little over her face. I moved it and she was white as could be. There was blood coming out of her nose, some out of her mouth, and the left side of her face looked horrible because of where the blood had settled in and her left eye was slightly opened while her right eye was closed. It was as if she was awake, fell asleep, and just stopped breathing. Which yes that is what happened. But to this very day I replay that morning wondering what I could of did differently. My daughter had just turned 4 months old.
Parents question themselves mercilessly for possible causes of their child’s death, for what they might have done wrong. Even an outside confirmation that parent’s aren’t at fault doesn’t prevent these feelings. You may need support to deal with your guilt feelings rationally –perhaps through discussion with others who have had the same experience, by attending a support group or by seeking counseling.
Children who die of SIDS are torn out of life in the midst of the baby’s and parents’ “honeymoon” together. An exciting, joyful time has just begun, when the baby starts to make contact with her surroundings, imitates her parents and smiles at them. Love and bonding have grown deeply. On the other hand, memories of the baby’s short life span remain –memories that no one can ever take away, and this can help the grief process eventually.
I did talk to the coroner who did the autopsy on my daughter and he told me it was SIDS and there was nothing I could have done to prevent her death. They say it’s like a light turning on and off and with SIDS babies their “switch” is defective and just stops working and never turns on again. Or in other words it fails to tell them to breath. Some studies are saying it could be caused by a defective brain stem that is causing them to just stop breathing. Yet there are still no answers to the cause of SIDS or even a cure.
Since the 1990s there have been studies that say you should put your baby to sleep on their back, don’t have bumpers in the cribs, pillows, stuffed animals, or thick blankets that could cause suffocation. You should give them a pacifier at nap time and bed time. Do not smoke during pregnancy or around a baby or let anyone who smokes hold the baby while they smell of cigarette smoke. Also they say to be careful of overheating your infant. But in recent years they have found even if you do all of these things that a seemingly normal; healthy baby will still fall victim to SIDS.
My daughter was taken from us due to SIDS and she had no risk of SIDS. She was not underweight at birth. Actually she was a healthy 8lbs baby girl born at 37 weeks gestation. At her passing she weighed 27lbs and was 24 inches long. By no means was she a tiny baby. She slept with a pacifier. She did just fall asleep and never woke up. Losing a child to SIDS is beyond devastating because all the parents do is blame themselves and some blame each other.

No comments:

Post a Comment