On the 2 July 2011, our beautiful baby boy, River Jak Adam was born, weighing 7lb 3oz. He was perfect in every way.
As soon as he was put into my arms, I held him, cuddled him and told him how I would do anything to protect him for as long as I lived. I don’t think a day went by where I didn’t tell him how precious he was and how much we all loved him.
Four months and four days followed, with River being the light of our life. Doted on by family and friends, piling on the weight, even trying to stand up at any chance he could; River was the happiest, most contented baby who made every one smile who he came into contact with. River loved anything but sleep; playing with his toys, dancing with his nanny to the Wiggles and walking in his pram along the beach… but nothing compared to his nightly baths where his chuckles could be heard echoing through the house.
He loved to feed and I loved it equally, every breastfeed I felt closer and closer to my little bundle and loved to look into his eyes. He would often smile and giggle at me when I was feeding him and I would cuddle up to him as he slowly fell asleep in my arms.
On Sunday 6 November, we were child minding two of our friends children and took them tenpin bowling and for lunch. River, loving all the sounds
and colours in the bowling alley, giggled away, fed well and his slight cold which had developed the day before, seemed to disappear overnight. We got home, he was bathed, still smiling and happy and I fed him as his Daddy said an early goodnight.
River and I, along with my Mum, his doting Nanny, played on the couch, cuddled up, laughed and fed and about 8.30pm he went to sleep in his cot. We had introduced River to his cot only two weeks earlier, as he’d begun to turn in his bedside bassinet and we were fearful of him rolling and falling. I was under the false perception that our visual/audible monitor would provide us with “bedside like” surveillance. This haunts me to this day.
River woke a couple of times, wanting cuddles back to sleep as normal and at 11.30pm I fed him again, made sure he was sleeping and popped him back into his cot, thinking I would be woken again at about 2-3am for his next feed.
Mum and I said goodnight – her room being next door to his – and I went to bed. I checked the monitor and he was sound asleep. At 7.25am the next morning I awoke to my husband getting back into bed from feeding our dogs and asked him what time it was. I stared straight at the monitor thinking, why hadn’t River woken me?!
I couldn’t see him so thought Mum must have woken up before us and grabbed him so we could have a sleep in. A minute or so passed and I told my husband I would just check Mum was ok with him and I’d be right back. Mum was asleep as I rushed in to her room asking “Mum, where’s Riv?!” Before she could answer, I rushed into his room to his cot.
River had rolled out of the way of the monitor, was half way up the cot and had his face away from me. I rolled him towards me in a panic and instantly screamed for help.
Our little man, the light of our life, the most precious thing in our world, had died, sometime between 11.30pm and that morning.
A few days after River’s death, in the hollows of our grief, we discussed with a close friend about establishing a fund or account for donations in lieu of flowers at River’s funeral.
Little did we know that this conversation would be impetus for the establishment of River’s Gift, a fundraising initiative that is now a leading source of non-government funding for SIDS research in Australia.
SIDS still claims over 80 babies in Australia each year, 300 a year in the UK and over 3000 a year in the USA.
It doesn’t discriminate and as a result, leaves parents such as us dumbfounded that it could happen when we did everything right – slept River on his back at safe room temperature, free of obstructions and we don’t smoke or drink.
We did everything right and we still lost our precious boy…why??
This is the excruciating question so many SIDS parents are left with – why us?
River’s Gift raises funds for RESEARCH and PREVENTION.