I would like to begin by saying that I have struggled with whether or not to post this on reddit. After a few weeks of reading stuff on here, I have realized that everyone seems to be fairly understanding. I am still fairly nervous about my discussion, please be gentle.

Our third son was born on March 28th, 2011. He was a bright and beautiful baby. He seemed to always have a smile on his face. I always heard that babies do not smile, but seem to when they pass gas. I do not know how true that is, but our son genuinely seemed to smile. At night; however; he constantly wanted to be held. We would always hold him before bedtime so he would fall asleep. The last night we held him, we made the absolutely horrible mistake of falling asleep while holding him. The events that followed will forever be the darkest days on my entire life. On June 29th, 2011 my life was completely changed. In the early hours of the morning I woke to my wife screaming our 3 month old son's name. For the sake of this discussion I shall call him "C". I immediately come to my senses and ask my wife "What's wrong!?" I can barely understand her words through her tears. She is gently shaking our son sobbing, "He's not breathing!" I take him from her; noticing that his skin is cool to the touch; and place him on the bed, and immediately begin infant CPR. Thankfully my mother in-law asked me to read up on infant and toddler CPR when our first child was born. I had no idea that the procedures differed. I told my wife to call 911, but her mental state was in no condition to follow directions. (understandably) At this time I grab my phone call 911 as I am rushing my son down stairs. I opened the living room door so the paramedics will see me, and placed my son on the living room floor. Pausing only long enough to inform the operator of the situation; I continue assisted breathing and chest compressions. After telling my wife to go outside and flag the first responders; she collapses on the front walk. "My BABY! MY BABY" is all I can hear, and at this point I am sobbing so hard that I have difficulty continuing. After what seems like an eternity the fire department is the first to arrive. They asked me "What's the problem?", and I can barely respond "He's not breathing." Without hesitation; the paramedic/fireman (They drove what looked like an ambulance, but dressed like a firemen.) scooped up my son and ran toward the ambulance. As he was running back to the ambulance he yelled back which hospital they would be going to. By now there were multiple police cars and a couple fire engines parked around my condo. I woke up our neighbor, and asked him to keep an eye on our kids until my wife's family got there. A police officer assured me he would be there until family arrived. We arrived at the hospital a couple minutes after the ambulance did. The ER staff where running in and out of the room my son was in. My wife and I were not allowed in the room. At one point I heard someone yell "I have a heartbeat", but was later informed that the heartbeat was a chemical reaction. Presently my wife and I are actively participating in support groups and a fund raiser for an organization that raises awareness about safe sleep. I suppose that completes my introduction. I will try to answer as many questions as I can. I wanted my first post on reddit to be an important one to me. AMAA.

(Please excuse any grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes as they are not my strong points.)

EDIT: I have been asked display proof. Here is my son's death certificate

EDIT EDIT: I hope I have helped some of you with any questions you have had about this. I am also very touched by the sympathies everyone has offered. Unfortunately I must go to bed; I have to work at 8am. Its 2:54. I will continue to answer questions when I can. Thanks again.

LAST EDIT: I hope I have answered most questions. It seems many people think I am doing this for karma. If this were a public speech would I still be a karma whore? As I have apparently offended many people; I will stop answering questions. Honestly, all I wanted to do was answer question that most people are afraid to ask in person.

Comments: 1822 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

eziam903 karma

Wow. As a father of a 3 year old and an eight week, you have lived my biggest fear. I am amazed that you can post this. My heart honestly goes out to you and your wife.

Did you have the child in your bed with you or was it on the couch. I have fallen asleep with her in my arms on the couch during the late nights.

athrtyfrck553 karma

Like I said, I have struggled with the decision to post this. I have found that the more I talk about it, the more "at peace" I feel. He was in bed with us. Although quite a few members of our support group lost children on the couch.

catcatherine279 karma

How is your wife doing?

My heart goes out to your whole family.

athrtyfrck393 karma

She has definitely had more of a struggle. She has been diagnosed with depression, but has been in therapy. I feel she is slowly getting better each day. Our support group helps the most.

Libertarian1986273 karma

This will probably get buried but I hope you see it. There is a charity http://www.mollybears.com/ They make teddy bears to help you remember the baby you lost. They weigh them the same weight as your baby so you have something to hold.

When I lost my son, the worst part was having empty arms, they literally ached to hold him. I haven't gotten my bear yet because they are a new charity and are in need of funds, but they open up the list on the last day of the month and you can sign up and they will get to you.

As a parent that has lost a child as well, let me say that you and your wife didn't deserve this. It's not fair, and it's the shittiest thing that could happen. I'm not religious, but I will be thinking of your family and hoping that you can find small glimmers of happiness during this dark time.

athrtyfrck220 karma

Thank you. My wife actually already received her "C Bear". I think that is a wonderful program. C Bear is 9lbs 11oz! C was a heavy baby.

Emil_Greer218 karma

wow, we co-slept with our baby clear through infancy, many argue that it is safer than the crib. I guess I just want to say that I am sure it is a struggle but what you were doing was not out of the ordinary. And we parents as a community support you.

athrtyfrck267 karma

I also have read that co-sleeping is quite common. However, I do recommend the co-sleeping boxes to parents who co-sleep. Thank you for the support.

jelomagnetti216 karma

I'm so sorry for your loss :( I hope maybe if raising children is for the future your family could adopt. It wouldn't be replacing your son but instead giving another child the love you have to give.

athrtyfrck162 karma

This is something we have strongly considered. When our financial situation improves, maybe we will.

RedWingerD156 karma

How did/are your other children handling it?

I lost my mother at a young age but could not imagine losing a sibling.

Edit: stupid phone

athrtyfrck526 karma

Our family takes it one day at a time. My daughter had just turned 4 when everything happened. She asked when C would be coming home. My mother started to talk about heaven and what not. I asked her not to tell my daughter about heaven. I figured my daughter would see heaven as a place, and if it's a place then C could come back. I used that opportunity to explain death to my daughter. I know it sounds a bit rough for a child, but explaining that when someone dies they can not return was the best thing for her. She has accepted it and in my opinion is doing wonderful. She somewhat openly talks about C, but understands that it is a sensitive subject.

limesonapony135 karma

Do you deal with guilt and, if so, has the support group helped?

athrtyfrck240 karma

Til the day I die, I will always ask myself why I didn't stay awake and put C back in his crib. Support groups help a great deal. My wife and I were just discussing the constant questioning of our decisions of that night.

[deleted]111 karma

There are no words. I'm a father too, and I sincerely and deeply mourn with you. I'm so so sorry.

Have you found the support groups to be helpful, at least?

athrtyfrck112 karma

Absolutely support groups have been our biggest help. Raising awareness of safe sleep also helps us heal.

FlippyWippy105 karma

Sorry you had to go through this.

Did you ever find out what was the cause of death?

athrtyfrck152 karma

Lots of people would like to say SIDS. If I understand correctly SIDS is a term for lack of understanding. That being said, the medical examiner here official ruled the death as Asphyxia overlay. There has been some debate about this, as our medical examiner has not listed SIDS in quite a few years. I've been told he does this to protect some kind of record he has.

EDIT: Also our doctor says there would be signs of Asphyxia should be in the blood work. His doctor was not happy with the medical examiner.

CastorTroyMX87 karma

I don't have a question. I just want to take the time to say I am very sorry for your loss and I wish the best for you and your wife.

athrtyfrck49 karma

Thank you very much.

Frajer63 karma

How has this affected your relationship with your other kids? Did they understand what happened?

athrtyfrck96 karma

Our other children where quite young (3 and 4). If anything this event has made me truly appreciate them. My daughter understands what happened. My son was too young.

daniyelly57 karma

I am so sorry this has happened to you, this is one of the reasons I am terrified of having children. Also I am terribly sorry if this is a disrespectful question and you don't have to answer, But just for my own future reference, why is it bad for the baby to fall asleep in your arms?

athrtyfrck80 karma

It is not bad for a baby to fall asleep in your arms at all. We feel asleep with our son in bed with us. Our son passed away due to Asphyxia which is lack of oxygen. This can be because of sheets or pillows or being too close to my wife or myself.

tsolosmi44 karma

They really need to invent a sticker sized monitor that alarms and whistles if a heartbeat drops or body temperature drops.

athrtyfrck24 karma

I'm not aware of anything like that, but they do make a breathing monitor that is placed under the crib mattress. Of course this only works if the child is in the crib.

imweecado40 karma

Don't pay attention to the trolls, they're disgusting. I am truly sorry for your loss. I am 24 and too young for children, but I do want them someday, and it is unbelievable how terrified I am to have kids because of stories like this. I cannot thank you enough for using this as a way to educate others on safe sleeping, who knows how many lives you have probably already saved. Again, my thoughts go out to you and your wife and children :) Treasure every moment with them.

EDIT: This is an AMAA, so I should ask you a question. Do you have any organizations or causes that you are particularly close to related to this subject? I would love to make a donation or help out in some way if you do.

athrtyfrck75 karma

My wife wants to build a small park in our son's name, but we have no clue how to get started with that. Right now we participate in a fund raising walk for Tomorrow's Child. Our team page is here.

assfrog31 karma

This may sound incredibly insensitive, but I have wondered about this before. And I've never had kids so forgive me if this is completely out of touch. When someone loses a child that is 3 months old, I would think that maybe it would not be as "bad" as, say, losing a 2 or 3 year old. Just because you've had much less time with your child and less of an opportunity to grow that bond. Not that it would ever be easy to forget this tragedy, but do you ever think that this tragedy is "easier" to handle due to the very young age?

athrtyfrck41 karma

I can see how people would conclude this. Even though we have lost C, I could never imagine losing one of my other children. 3 months is lots of time to bond with a child, and my wife bonded for months before that.

Christoaster29 karma

First off, my heart goes out to you, your wife, your other kids, and C. You don't have to answer this question because I know death is a very sensitive topic.

While your wife was screaming and sobbing, did any of your kids wake up while all of this was going down? Also, do you and your wife have anything significant to remember him by? If so, what is it?

athrtyfrck93 karma

My daughter did wake up. She was crying, but only because he mom was so upset. She didn't understand at that point. We have a stuffed elephant that used to hang from his car seat, he loved it. I have also deconstructed his crib and made a memory chest to hold some of his clothes and his elephant.

1_upped27 karma

Can you explain this line for me?

The last night we held him, we made the absolutely horrible mistake of falling asleep while holding him.

Did something happen while you were holding him?

So sorry for your loss.

athrtyfrck42 karma

Nothing happened as a direct result of us holding him. We fell asleep with him in bed with us.

sparty_party25 karma

Yes, I don't understand this line either, and judging but how you didn't describe it more, I'm assuming you must have a really hard time with this part. I'm curious as well, but if you don't feel like expanding upon it, I totally understand.

I'm so sorry for your loss :( You're so strong for doing this AMA to educate others, and for getting through the past year.

athrtyfrck66 karma

It's not that I am having a hard time expanding on this part. It is all I remember. We where taking turns holding him. Then we laid him between us in the bed, rubbing his tummy. The next thing I know; I'm waking up to my wife screaming. We had fallen asleep with him in bed. That is where he passed away.

[deleted]19 karma

I am so sorry for what happened to you.
I am the officiant at a funeral for a toddler this morning and I'm scared to bits. What were the things that people said and did that comforted you most profoundly around the time of your tragedy, and what things made it worse?

athrtyfrck59 karma

People that gave me the non-heartfelt "If there is anything I can do" auto-response made things worse for me. I found myself infuriated when someone would say that. An acquaintance of mine actually did the best thing for me at the time. He is kind of an awkward type. He simply talked to me like it was any other day. I do not know if he did it out of nervousness or purposefully, but I appreciate it more than anything else.

muzzman3218 karma

Sorry to hear mate, I cant imagine being in that situation and I admire you for speaking about it openly.

How does it feel talking with your wife now about possibly trying again? Do you feel kinda 'guilty' about even discussing it?

Stay strong brother.

athrtyfrck39 karma

We have decided not to try for another child. She had a tubal done right after C was born. I used to feel guilty about discussing it, but my wife's therapist and our support group say that it is not something to feel guilty about. It's true that talking about something helps the healing process.

imonsteroids17 karma

Im really sorry for your loss but I do have a question about the events following june 29th. I dont really know too much about the law when things like this happen but does the police department just chalk it up as an accident or are there any other ramifications? Are there mandatory counseling or maybe investigations from child protective services into your household? Sorry for asking these questions im just genuinely curious, and sorry again for your loss

athrtyfrck26 karma

Don't be sorry at all. Those are really good questions. The police department does investigate; although we only seen the detective at the hospital. Child Protective Services (CPS) does a mandatory investigation. Our household has inspected once a month until the M.E. ruled a C.O.D.

lioninacoma-17 karma

I'm aware that this is an awful-sounding thing to say, but was there anyone who gave you shit for his death, given that it was accidental and arguably a result of your falling asleep with him in bed? How did you/have you dealt with that? (Just for the record I do not personally think it is your fault at all, horrible but accidents like this do happen and you obviously never foresaw something like this happening. Also good on you for doing CPR, I know CPR myself but honestly can't see myself being mentally able to bring myself to perform it in emergencies should they present just due to being paralyzed with nerves and fear.)

athrtyfrck111 karma

I have not personally received any negative comments about his death. Most people try to relate to me by telling me a story that they feel relates to mine. Some woman told my wife, "I know how you feel, my son works for the forestry service, and I'm am scared to death that he will be mauled by a bear!" WTF?

cptsir12 karma

Is your marriage stronger after this or are you struggling as a couple?

What did you tell your other two kids?

My condolences to you and your family. Be strong and be there for each other as a family. You guys can get through this together.

athrtyfrck24 karma

Our marriage was understandably strained. I feel it has gotten stronger in recent months. I told my daughter the truth. I told her that C had died. I explained that when someone dies, they can never return and we can never see them again. I explain that it was nobody's fault, and that we should remember him with love and happiness. My son has a development disorder so he doesn't understand things as well. He is now 4, but he understand things at a 2.5 year old level.

OnlyALetter12 karma

What exactly is safe sleep? How would you correctly put an infant to sleep? Or better yet, how would you incorrectly put an infant to sleep?

Thanks for the AMA. I don't even feel worthy to extend my condolences. Nobody should have to experience what you've experienced.

athrtyfrck37 karma

The defined way to allow a baby to safely sleep is to place a baby in a crib with no loose sheets. Tight fitting sheets are ok. No toys or blankets. No loose clothing. No "bumpers" on the crib. Place the child on his or her back if they are infant.

LLv210 karma

Has anyone been dumb enough to say something to you along the lines of 'well I've found these things always happen for the best?'

I've always wanted a defensible reason to strangle people who say that.

athrtyfrck17 karma

I have not had anyone say this to me. I have prepared myself with a somewhat political response. Even though it would deeply offend me, I would not want to lose it on that person.

Kaentha9 karma

I'm heartbroken for you. I've slept with my baby every night for the last 4.5 months, and now I'm scared for what I will do tonight. However; you were not meaning to sleep with the baby, right? Like, you didn't have the bed set up and the two of you in the bed-sharing positioning, right?

Oh God, I am so sorry for you. Please give your other two children extra kisses tonight from the Redditors. I hope the support group is giving you some relief from the guilt and debilitating grief.

As well as the proper bed-sharing question, I have another that may sound insensitive but I have a relative who went through this: did the police charge you with a crime concerning this incident? (I'm almost hyperventilating in writing this, SERIOUS TRIGGER WARNING) My relative fell asleep while feeding the baby with a bottle and drowned/asphixyated the child and was charged.

athrtyfrck9 karma

We were never charged with any crime. What happened was found to be an accident within a couple weeks. We had not planned on bed sharing so no we didn't have the bed set up for that.

mat_monster8 karma

First off, my sincere condolences to you and your family. Losing a child is devastating. As you said, the medical examiner didn't want to list SIDS as a cause of death, and I've noticed that this diagnosis seems to often have a cloud of suspicion associated with it. How has the reaction been when you have had to explain the cause to others, and have you or any of the people in your support group had to deal with any "pushback", for lack of a better term, over this? Wondering if your experience is similar to some cases I have seen in the past.

athrtyfrck20 karma

I think most people are afraid to really talk to me about how they feel. I do not get many opinions either way. I do feel like I am being "looked down on" sometimes. This could be my own guilt manifesting itself. :\

late_to_the_party16 karma

Wow. I don't know what to say. I'm so sorry for your lost.

I do have one question; Why was falling asleep with the infant a bad idea, did something happen during the night? Might be hard for the OP to answer does any one else know something I'm not understanding...

athrtyfrck8 karma

The official cause of death is Asphyxia Overlay. It was never explained to me, but I believe it means "lack of oxygen due to something (pillow, blankets, body) being too close to his face.