We have all had the “worst day” of our lives. Bridget, in all honesty, has given me most of mine. The time in the NICU, having to physically hold her down for testing and the list goes on. For every “worst day” she has given me countless best days.
That is not always the case.
Today two friends of mine is going through another worst day of their life. Three years ago these happy parents lost their first born, handsome, cute, full of laughter, son to SIDS. Although he was just five months old, Colby gave his parents a lifetime of happy memories.
Instead of letting Colby’s death break them, they have worked tirelessly to promote SIDS awareness. In her words: “I wouldn’t wish what I went through on any mom...”
To celebrate Colby’s impact on the world, his parents have created Colby’s Crusade. In celebration of their son’s five months of life each spring they raise money for SIDS awareness through SPRING FOR SIDS. They willingly share their story and their grief so that others will not feel alone. Here are some facts on SIDS:
- In the US, Colby was one of 3,610 babies taken from his parents in the year of 2011 by SIDS
- That is roughly 8 babies a day. EIGHT parents today are having their first worst day of their life.
- There was nothing any of those 3,610 parents could have done to prevent their child’s death. There is nothing those EIGHT parents today can prevent their child’s death.
- Although not known why, smoking during pregnancy or in the home of a baby increases the risk of SIDS related death
- Children who die of SIDS are seemingly perfectly healthy.
- SIDS does not discriminate. It can happen regardless of race, economic stature or ethnicity.
- SIDS is not hereditary and is not contagious.
While there is nothing a parent can do to prevent SIDS, the CDC does have some recommendations to reduce risk:
- Place babies on their back to sleep every time. Every time.
- Use a firm mattress with a bed sheet. Do not let them sleep on the couch, for example, or another soft surface.
- Do not use bumpers, blankets or fill the crib up with stuffed animals
- “Prevent exposure to smoking during pregnancy and after birth because these are important risk factors for SIDS. The risk of SIDS is even stronger when a baby shares a bed with a smoker. To reduce risk, do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby.” (credit: CDC)
- Do not share a bed with your baby. I know, you want to cuddle. THEY want to cuddle. But check out this video and maybe think twice:
While the video is not due to SIDS, it emphasizes how important safe sleeping habits are for you and for your child’s safety. As my friend keeps saying, “I wouldn’t want another mother to feel my pain…”
If you, or someone you know, has been affected by SIDS I encourage you to find your village. To find those who understand that the worst day of your life doesn’t end at midnight. That you need support every day. Heck every moment. To find a support group near you, SIDS America has local resources across the United States.
It doesn’t make it easier, I am sure, to know that Colby (or any baby) is with their God when you want them home where they should have been safe in their crib. I know his parents are strong. Stronger than they know. I wish I could take away their pain, if even for a moment.
All I can do, all any of us can do, is to remember the anniversary is not the only “worst day” of their lives. That we need to be with them every day and acknowledge that their grief will always be a part of who they are now.
And hug our children a little tighter, being truly grateful that this is not the worst day of our lives.