Missing you my Angel Face
Sun, 23 Aug 1998
My name is Maria and I lost my precious baby girl Alexandra February 24th, 1998 to SIDS. Alexandra Elizabeth Leonard was born January 8th after what seemed to be such a long wait. I couldn't wait to have this precious baby in my life. My first little girl was 2 months early (many (15) years ago), so I was worried that Alexandra would be preemie too. Well she wasn't - she was born two days before her due date weighing 6 lbs. 8 3/4 ozs. She received a 9 on her apgar. She seemed absolutely perfect. I knew about SIDS before Alexandra was born, but never really worried about it. She was very healthy, I had great prenatal care, I didn't smoke, she was breastfed, and she was always placed on her back to sleep. She had gained over 4 lbs. in her short beautiful life. She was thriving. And because of that - I will never understand why she is not with me today.
I am a single parent and I had to return to work when my six weeks of leave was up. Alexandra was six weeks and two days old. My first day back was very hard, I missed my Angel Face so much. I had chosen a state certified day care provider who worked out of her home, instead of a day care center, hoping that my baby would receive more one-on-one attention. At five o'clock I raced out the door. I couldn't wait to see her. I took her home and all went well. She was really sleepy that night, and I remember how I wanted her to stay awake because I missed her so. Well the next morning I woke up first, having time to dress and get ready for work. I heard Alexandra waking up. I got upstairs just in time to see her stretching out so beautifully, her little yawn - her perfect little mouth. She woke so happy that day. We ate and got dressed and I brought her downstairs. We had an extra 20 minutes so we played and I propped her up against her blanket and a pillow to take her picture. She was giving mommy her first real smile, not a sleeping smile - it was a Hey I Love You Mommy smile. I will never forget that. Every time I look at those pictures I feel like I should have known - somehow - someway that she would die that day. She stares into my soul and I know that she loves her mommy very much. (You can see this picture of her at http://sids- network.org/leonardgif.htm)
I put her in her car seat and we went to the sitters house. I dropped her off at 7:20 a.m. She was wide awake, and very pleasant. All in all she was always a happy baby, she hardly ever cried. She was the greatest gift from God. I was truly blessed.
I went to work, it was a busy morning, and time was flying by. I called the sitter around 9:30 and she said Alexandra was fine and that she was sleeping. I was glad to hear that another day was going well.
But it wasn't. That morning my daughter died. The sitter called around 11:45 to tell me that Alexandra wasn't breathing. My friend drove me to the sitters house, but Alexandra had already been taken to the hospital. I got there screaming - "where is my baby?" over and over. The nurse just pointed for me to go around the corner where other nurses came out of an exam room and took me to a small room to talk. A chaplain came in the room too. I should have known then. They told me that she wasn't breathing but they were still trying to revive her. The nurse left to check and came back to tell me they had a heartbeat (she was mistaken, they never did). The people from work started to arrive - all of us praying that she would be alright. I kept telling them I wanted to be with her, they said the doctors needed room to work. After ten more minutes or so they said I could see her. I walked in the room - she looked so very small with tubes down her throat, IV's in her arm and leg - my poor baby. The doctors were still doing CPR - but she was so pale. The told me that Alexandra had been dead for about an hour and a half and after 3 minutes without oxygen brain damage begins to occur - so if by some miracle we did revive her she would have severe developmental problems, etc. She would not have been the same.
The doctor asked me what should he do? Could he stop? I was so lost - how do you tell them to stop - how DID I tell them to stop? Somehow I did. I asked to hold her immediately. I needed to have her in my arms. To tell her that I love her, that I will always love her until the end of time. I had all my friends from work, and Alexandra's God Mommy was by my side. She had to leave to go and tell my 15 yr old daughter Tasha that her baby sister had died. Tasha was (and is) devastated. I will never forget the look on her face when she arrived at the hospital. I couldn't protect either of my babies. I never felt more like a failure.
I had the opportunity to hold my Angel Face, kiss her and tell her how much I loved her. The hospital chaplain baptized her for me and I got a lock of her beautiful hair. It's so hard when that is all you have left of your child. And the memories of her laying on the gurney will never be erased from my mind. I also will never forget what it was like to look into her beautiful eyes, as she looked at me when she would drink her milky-milk. I am honored to have her for my daughter. I am privileged that this precious child was and is in my life. I thank God for her and my time with her. I know that we will be together again. And when that time comes - I will never have to let her go again.
Tasha and I have worked really hard to make a difference in the area so that everyone knows about SIDS and the Back to Sleep program. Alexandra was placed belly down on a soft comforter for her morning nap. The coroner said that they will never know if she internally sufficated or not. Her autopsy said nothing was wrong. I will never understand this. I didn't think I had to tell a certified day care provider how to take care of a baby. I will NEVER stop regretting that. I tell all parents to make sure they demand that their babies sleep on their backs (unless otherwise told by a pediatrician). That the cribs are free of quilts, toys and even bumper pads. Tht the babies are placed on a firm surface and that they are not over bundled.
I hope that someday SIDS will be a horrible memory, that no other parent will suffer this loss. An otherwise healthy, thriving baby dying in their sleep. The death of ones' baby or child is always horrible. It happens all to often. I hope someday it won't happen to babies anymore.
I am including two poems written by moms who have lost their babies. I hope they don't mind me sharing them. I found the first poem in a book about SIDS a few days after Alexandra died. I was sobbing in the book store as people watched. No one knowing why. The other I found on the internet. Both fill a void and touch my heart so deeply.
Tomorrow it will be six months since my Angel Face died. It hasn't gotten any easier. I still miss her so much. I can not sleep in our room, instead I sleep on the couch with a light and the TV on. I lost so much when I lost her, she was my future, my life and my joy. That is all I wanted was to be a mommy to her and my daughter Tasha. Not a world known scientist, not a great athlete, just their mommy. I hold each of my children close to my heart. I know that the Lord blessed me with each one.
Thank you all for reading my story. For listening to me - for hearing me. Thank you for caring about my precious Alexandra and all of the other precious angels lost to SIDS and OID.
My prayers to you all
Maybe You Could Just Listen
The poem was written by Wendy Sundin in loving memory of Krystin Dawn.
She Hears a Baby's Cry
Startled from a dreamless sleep,
Only by a mother's ears will this sound be heard.
Stumbling down a moolit hall
Chilled by the air of night,
In a room once filled with light,
In the corner a rocking chair
She rocks and sings "hush-a-by",
As the sunrise chases away the night,
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