Where do I start? So much to say, and every word connected to my heart. In September 1988, 2 miscarriages, and 1000s of clomophene later, I had my son, Kody, 7 weeks early. At 5 weeks old I caught him not breathing, I resuscitated him, and three more times before he was 18 months old. He stopped breathing most days, except 5, when he had a cold. He went on the sleep-log at Christchurch hospital, no defects found, but their finding recommended he be on a monitor for 2 years.
In May 1990 I had my daughter, Lace, 8 weeks early; she was in neonatal for 7 weeks. She went on the sleep-log, no defects found but because of Kody’s record she had a monitor. Four days after Kody turned 2 Lace died. I tried to resuscitate her but couldn’t.
March 1993, I had my second daughter, Kayleigh, 4 ½ weeks early. She also was on a monitor. I used to give night feeds in a chair. I had been so ill and tired that I’d fall asleep no matter how I tried not to. One night I woke to find Kayleigh about to hit the floor, I grabbed her nappy and yanked her up, hitting her arm in the process. I got such a fright I fed her in bed from then on until she stopped her night feeds at 4 months old. She’d never be in the middle, and always in natural fibre clothing. I never bed-shared with my other babies. When she was 5 months old, weighing 15lb and drinking from a cup, her monitor kept alarming, even when the breath-light flashed. It had needed servicing when we got it, but there wasn’t one to replace it. We had to stop using it.
The first nights after that were virtually sleepless, a mixture of lying there listening to every breath, scared of sleeping, and waking with fear, leaping out of the bed too scared to touch her, only to be assured by a noise or movement. The third night was better, probably a mixture of a late night and the previous sleepless ones. I woke at 6am and found her dead. God, how I had dreaded doing that again. My partner tried to resuscitate her while the ambulance came. When I’d told him she was dead he laughed at me, thinking I was being paranoid because I’d slept all night, it wasn’t till I gestured her limp body towards him that he realised.
I hoped she had suffocated, so I could blame something. My partner blames me. Cot dearth is such a theft, taking without reason or thought.
Usually Kayleigh went to bed about 8pm and woke 6-6.30am, but for some reason she was up at 1am playing. She’d wriggle really fast when you went to put her nappy on, lie real still, and roar with laughter. She was up again at 4am, more for a cuddle than food. It reminds me how Lace had been up three times the night before she died and not needed anything.
I never held a baby after Lace died until Kayleigh was born.
After Kayleigh died my partner asked “How long till you stop looking at babies?”. “You mean to admire them”, I asked, he frowned, “or do you mean to see if it’s Kayleigh?” I continued. He looked relieved, yes that was what he meant. “Do you ever stop?” I said. “I was looking for Lace with Kayleigh in my arms.”
You get past the “It’s a dream stage” but are stuck in “someone will bring her home any minute”. I had 2 ½ years between cot deaths and I wonder if I’ll ever get to the final stage, it’s like reading a book with the final pages missing.
How can such a wee person leave such a big hole in your heart. Is it so the memory stays forever fresh and just when you think you can cope something happens to open the wound again? With a lot of luck we want to have another baby. I often think, well continually think, “can I do this again, can I survive another death, or survive getting to a safe age for that matter.” But then I wonder, if the baby lives will my two little lost souls get another chance.
How could I not take the risk?Return to family Stories