4 years ago, on November 11, 2015, I awoke to the most nightmarish trauma I will ever live and survive. I awoke to my infant son, cold and lifeless in his crib. The details for some are to hard to hear. The details for me, they are too hard to type. They play out in my mind so often that it’s enough to make a generally sane person, go insane. It was enough to grant me a diagnosis of PTSD. What I lived through that morning… from my frantic phone call to 911, to desperately trying to administer CPR to my infant son, to the turn of a corner into the lobby of my apartment building and discovering my street lined with emergency vehicles and their flashing lights, to exiting the building to follow a racing ambulance in the back of a police car to a hospital… to a Doctor sitting beside me in the private room I was taken into, sitting beside me while holding my hands and telling me that there was nothing they could do and that Brandon had been pronounced deceased. The elapsed time from waking up to hearing my son was gone, approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. The events within that time however, felt like forever. The events within that time, will last forever within me.
What a lot of people don’t know or understand is the policies, protocols and procedures that take place after. Prolonging what has already been a terrible nightmare, into what feels like a never ending nightmare. There is an investigation that MUST occur to rule out things such as homicide, negligence etc.. There’s also a coroner who must conduct an autopsy to determine cause of death. There is no write off of any of these things, ever. You must go through the motions and that I did. From not being able to be alone from the time I was first in contact with emergency personnel (I was with a police escort at all times) until I had gone into the police station with a homicide detective who had to conduct a formal interview with me, on video, in an interview room.
My apartment was treated much like a crime scene and I had to wait for the investigators to clear it before I could even go back into it. I was in my pajamas, had none of my personal belongings such as my purse and wallet, ID or cell phone on me the entire day. Brandon’s crib mattress and his blankets together with anything within a certain amount of feet away from his crib were removed from my home. Things were removed from my living room where I had laid him to administer CPR. I’ve never attempted to get them back. There was a policy that I could not touch Brandon’s body after he was pronounced unless the coroner had lifted it. Which she did after an initial interview with me in the hospital. That was the last time I held my baby boy in my arms. I sobbed while repeatedly saying “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry Brandon. I’m so sorry I failed you.” All under the watch of a homicide detective. I recall saying to him “I don’t know how you do this. See this. I don’t know how.”
Every professional I was in contact with, police officers, the homicide detective, the EMT’s, victim services and especially the coroner, they all treated me with great compassion. I never once felt I had done anything wrong by them. That wasn’t the case for my own mind and self however. Once the shock started wearing off, I really felt fault for not being able to know as a mom that something was wrong, before it was too late. A guilt I will forever carry irregardless of what the coroners report says. You never quite make peace with the “what ifs”. Or, at least I haven’t anyway. I never will because there will never be a day that feels right again without the presence of my child. The coroner contacted me after she had completed the autopsy and I was on the phone with her for over a half hour listening in depth to her explain that sometimes, things just can’t be explained and also, that there was nothing that I did or could’ve done to prevent the outcome of that day. That call to me from her is the only thing that helps me understand that I will never understand.
SIDS is the #1 leading cause of infant deaths in Canada. It takes the life of 1 of every 2,000 live-born babies in Canada. It is rare before one month of age and also after one year of age. SIDS is not the cause of death on Brandon’s coroner report. Undetermined is the word used. That is what gives his death a SIDS status. For the most part, we as humans crave definitive answers. We want the 5 W’s. It’s very difficult to negotiate peace with undetermined things. I don’t think I would have been able to make the peace I have with his death without his coroner giving me cold hard scientific facts. That helps me mentally, spiritually and emotionally along this way. I thank her beyond measure for doing what she did and emailed her telling her that.
Death and grief is a bitch. It’s a hellish path to navigate and I was slammed with 2 traumatic losses that have affected so much of my life and being in under 2 and a half years. It’s crippled me at times physically, mentally and emotionally. However, it has also given me so much more perspective. Applying it isn’t always easy and to this very day, I struggle with moving forward and facing fears. I struggle to understand so much within myself and in the environments around me. I struggle to believe I will ever find happiness and peace in the future and that the war within me with grief, will ever end. I struggle to parent my living son whom has lost the very same 2 loves as I. I’ve struggled with my mental health and suicidal thoughts and still do. I struggle. I struggle with so much more than some could ever possibly believe or understand or even take the time to hear. This shit has rocked my soul, my heart, my mind and my life to it’s core. I wish daily it was different. I wonder daily how different life would be and if the happiness and peace I seek now would be there already had I done things differently in both cases, before devastating loss turned life upside down.
I am still standing though. Still fighting. Still clinging to the hope I have that someday all the mass of grey will shift for me and us. I am grateful daily for breath. A privilege denied to many, including my 3 and half month old son. Not being able to give that breath back to him is something that reminds me how precious breath and life is.
4 years has passed, however, it will always feel like yesterday. I will never forget your first loud coo’s the night before on the phone with my mom, I will never forget singing “You are my sunshines” to you and Jackson before you closed your eyes forever. I will never forget you and I will never let your name be in vain. I may still struggle but, your life taught me so much too. I am grateful for your short physical presence and ever grateful for your reminders that you are not far. I miss you, dearly, We miss you, dearly. Forever a piece of my heart, my sweet Brandon. Jackson and I hope you and Jamie are soaring together.