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A Family's Happiness Destroyed

As told to Michelle Perry by Joan Winslow

This story is reprinted from a newsletter that was produced by Michelle Perry as a project for a class she was taking. Michelle has been an active volunteer with the SIDS Network. She has been involved in many fund-raising and public awareness activities.

It could happen to anyone; good or bad, smart or ignorant, cruel or sweet. This is a true story of what tragedy struck the family of a very dear friend of mine.

Back in 1970, Joan and her husband already had two young boys and had decided not to have any more children. But Joan became pregnant again and nine months later, gave birth to a healthy baby boy. The boys were Eddie, the new born, Paul age seven, and David age eleven. The family grew very close to the baby. Then six months later, tragedy struck!

Joan was very watchful of her youngsters. She would check up on them in the middle of the night. One October morning, the threesome children turned back into a twosome.

Three o'clock a.m., Joan gets up from bed and goes into Eddie's room. She kisses him gently on his soft warm cheek. He sleeps soundly without problems disturbing him. Five forty-five a.m., Paul goes to wake his little brother up, a usual thing every morning. Only this morning wouldn't be so usual. In fact it would change their lives forever!

Paul touches the six month old baby and finds him cold and not breathing. Eddie died from SIDS.

The whole family went into shock for quite a while after. Even now as Joan speaks about it, I see the tears of pain well up in her eyes. She tells me the boys withdrew, no longer being the ambitious little boys they once were. Joan blamed herself for the death because before she became pregnant again she had said she didn't want any more children. The boys were probably blaming themselves too. Truth is, no one was to blame for the death of Eddie, but it was a most tough time for the whole family. So much stress was put on Joan's relationship with her husband that six months after the baby's death, they decided to divorce.

Joan says that at the time she hated everyone. The one thing she was glad for was the other two boys because after the loss of Eddie she would never be able to bring herself to have another child again. All Joan wanted was her baby back, the one thing she could never have again.

Joan also had a granddaughter die of SIDS at two months old. The baby was lying on the mother's shoulder when she just stopped breathing. Living less than a mile from the hospital, they raced to get her there and save her life, but it was too late. Another life gone for reasons not explained,

Joan has given me permission to write this article in hopes that it will help people to understand the reason for researching on SIDS. It very important to find causes and preventions so we can keep this thing from killing our babies before they even have the chance to live. This is something people have got to learn about and understand, desperately!!!

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