“Momma meet me at the hospital, the baby’s not breathing”. These are words I will never forget, they play in my mind like a broken record. I arrived at the hospital, and my daughter was hysterical. Her baby's father was numb. I consoled my daughter, and asked her what happened. She said, “he wasn’t breathing, and I called 911.” The baby stopped breathing while sleeping in the bed with both parents. I asked the officers what happen, he stated the written report listed the cause of death as Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID). The Police Officer explained that he has witnessed infant deaths like this previously.
The death of my grandson was a very trying time for my family. We were confused and emotional. This also brought a financial hardship. I had the responsibility of planning a funeral, with no insurance. We relied on donations to aid in the cost of the arrangements. I was unable to grieve during this time. I did what I knew I had to do, without a second thought. I praise God for all that was provided, and for the support of my community and family.
In Marion County, 107 babies lost their lives before their first birthday in 2017 (ISDH, 2017). My grandson fits the statistics of babies who die before their first birthday. Infant mortality is an issue that hits close to home for me, because my Grandson’s death was 100% preventable. Unsafe sleep habits and a lack of knowledge led to his untimely death. We must educate our communities, and not let another baby die, due to a lack of education on safe sleep.
Many parents feel that co-sleeping is more convenient, and that it creates a closer connection with their child. When in fact, this creates a dangerous sleeping environment that can lead to infant mortality. As a Grassroots Maternal and Child Health Leader, I have learned that the safest place for any infant to sleep is alone, on their backs and in their own beds. This prevents suffocation, and allows the baby to sleep in a safe environment. I have been able to share this information with my family and friends, and educate them about infant mortality rates in our community.
The healing has begun! Cycles are being broken, because of the education I have received. I will continue to share with my community the importance of safe sleep and fight to prevent infant mortality.
It is up to us to educate all mothers about safe sleep to prevent infant mortality. We must mentor and support young mothers under peer pressure to abuse substances, and place their babies in unhealthy environments. It is imperative that we educate them about having a healthy pregnancy, and provide the love and support needed to invest in the next generation.
My grandson will always be in our hearts as we carry this information forward. He was with us a short time and has impacted my life, and now my community. He will be missed, but never forgotten. It is my hope that by sharing our story it will make a difference for other families, and help to end preventable infant deaths.
Indiana State Department of Health. Infant Mortality. (2017). https://www.in.gov/isdh/27470.htm