October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, so I wanted to share a friend’s poignant story of how the loss of her son to SIDS gave her the courage to gain back control of her own life and live with purpose. She has given me permission to tell her story here.
It started in 1995 with the birth of Isaiah.
April Stoddard Meyers gave birth to her beautiful son on February 13th, and her heart couldn’t have been fuller. In fact, it was because of Isaiah that she had decided to leave the tumultuous relationship she had been in and move to Idaho where her parents lived, to start a healthy life with her new son. She found a job and was excited to raise Isaiah and show him that she was dedicated to giving him a life he deserved.
She took Isaiah to his first day at a daycare in the small town she now lived in and picked him up at the end of her work day. Things seemed to be just fine and the two were starting their new schedules together.
April was hopeful and excited, and was proud of being able to support her son.
The next day she started her routine of taking Isaiah to his daycare and then to her new job. At lunch time, April drove past the daycare and was overcome with something we mothers know as “mother’s intuition.” Something inside her was saying,
“Go in. Just go pick him up. Just go get him.”
But, like many of us might have also done, she shook it off and convinced herself he was fine. She went back to work.
That decision would end up haunting April in the years to come.
She received a call from her stepmom a few hours later, who told her that something had happened to Isaiah and that someone needed to take her to the hospital right away. When she got there, she received the news that Isaiah had stopped breathing at daycare and was now on life support.
If she decided to keep him on life support, he would be in a vegetative state. April was told that she had to make the hardest decision her heart would ever have to endure. April held her son for his final heartbeats all the while wondering how her once healthy 3-month-old son could have tragically lost his life.
Worst of all, there was no explanation.
The autopsy that was performed came back as Isaiah losing his life to SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. There was no rhyme or reason for his passing, and that realization was devastating.
Not surprisingly, and like many others that have found themselves in such a horrible and unfortunate position, April turned to self-destructive behaviors because she believed she deserved the punishment.
She turned to uppers and downers and returned to her abusive relationship in which she was blamed for the loss of their child. At the bottom of her spiral, April had a dream that her boyfriend was going to fatally injure her and so she decided to leave him for good and deal with her grief.
She managed to clean up her life and found love again in a healthy relationship with her now husband, Bryan.
They had 3 children together and April felt blessed with the birth of her new family. Yet, the hole in her heart remained. She had never officially mourned the loss of her firstborn, Isaiah.
So, April googled and found The Guild for Infant Survival, Orange County, a group “dedicated to serving parents and families, educating the public and professionals, and raising funds to support medical research in an attempt to eradicate Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).” She contacted them and joined to be a peer supporter on the spot.
Coincidentally, (or not), the date was 2/13/2016, Isaiah’s birthday.
April has since committed herself to helping others cope through this horrible and traumatic situation that only others that have gone through it themselves can. She speaks at seminars and recently spoke to daycare providers regarding the proper safe sleep procedures for infants.
The children she had after Isaiah helped to heal her broken heart but it wasn’t until she became involved in The Guild that she felt that Isaiah was working through her, helping other families and living out “the plans” that she had always hoped she would get to live with him when he was born.
During this Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month I honor my friend April, her son and angel Isaiah, her husband Bryan, and their children Bryanna, Joshua, and Hannah. The loss of a child to SIDS is unimaginable and April, Isaiah, and the rest of her family have turned tragedy into a way of honoring Isaiah’s short life on earth; a passage to helping others and themselves.
Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month Resources
If you or someone you know has experienced a tragedy such as this and needs to talk to someone or are in need of resources regarding safe sleep for infants, contact the Guild for Infant Survival of Orange County at www.gisoc.org, visit the American SIDS Institute at www.SIDS.org, or read more regarding the safe sleep campaign at www.safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov.