I have battled my own mind for most of the day, wanting to write about having finally been given Sloan’s toxicology results. I wanted to express what this feels like. I wanted to express how everyone thinks being told a cause of death should be “closure” and how, for us, in every way- it is not.
It took twelve weeks for the person at the other end of my weekly phone call to the medical examiners office, to say “Yes we have results”. Twelve weeks for her to finally be able to say “It is documented as Sudden Unexplained Infant Death”. SUIDS. She’d said it. I heard it. And yet, it helped nothing.
I had expected her to tell me they had no results yet, like every other call I had made, so I had called while I was home alone. I heard those 7 words she said, and then I was underwater. Everything else she said was muffled, almost inaudible. She said something about how sorry she was for our loss. I couldn’t absorb anything else, so I said “Thank you” and hung up. I was shaking, my chest felt shallower than usual. My eyes stung and my knees felt weak. I was alone.
I thought about what this meant. How we’d pretty much assumed and expected these would be the results. How despite that, it still felt so fresh and wounding to hear. SIDS is a diagnosis, a cause. But it is not closure.
There is so much confusion around SIDS and its potential causes, and not enough awareness. Parents of infants, please research SIDS, understand the importance of sleep safety, utilize baby monitors like the Owlet, the Angelcare, and the Snuza. Approximately 2500 infants a year die of SIDS, our baby boy was one of them.
There’s much speculation, a ton of research, and so many studies done to try and pin point the different causes of SIDS. It’s been found that babies that die of SIDS *could* possibly have an undetectable brainstem abnormality that prevents them from responding appropriately to a lack of oxygen, *or* an imbalance preventing the signals from their brain to body to react. Some babies can’t recognize this lack of oxygen correctly, so they don’t wake up and move themselves or move the item obstructing their breathing. It could have been the blanket, or it could have been the reason he didn’t remove the blanket.
We will never know. We will never have anything but “Sudden Infant Death” to blame. While Sloan was found in his blanket, his toxicology results and medical examination showed no signs of suffocation or struggle. He just slowly stopped breathing. For whatever reason, he didn’t move the blanket. Something caused him not to react and they don’t know what. THAT is why SUIDS is his cause of death. For whatever reason, he didn’t wake up.
So please, do not tell us how great you think it is that we can “finally move forward.” Don’t tell us you’re hopeful this is the closure we needed. Try to understand that this is a bittersweet step in this journey. This is another reopening of the wound, it is another wave crashing down. Our baby just didn’t wake up. He just, didn’t wake up. There is no closure in that.
You can read more about SIDS/SUIDS here