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A mother's plea: "I've lost the love of my life. My angel. My baby boy."

“No matter how difficult it may seem at the time, put them to sleep in their own crib and avoid the greatest pain that one can experience in life–the pain that we are now experiencing.”

It is heartbreaking to read.

A mother’s words so raw you can’t help but catch your breath.

A personal story so close for so many of us that you are left with disbelief.

How can this happen? I did this. I remember. There but for the grace of god.

Young mother Angela Bono, from Grand Rapids, Michigan in the US thought she was doing everything right with her baby boy Everett.

Angela and Everett (Facebook)

In May her partner, Ryan Carmody came home to find her asleep with their five-month old baby in their bed.

She writes on Facebook “We didn’t think an accident could ever happen to us, until the night Ryan came home to Everett and I sleeping together and Everett not breathing. As soon as he woke me up, I immediately started CPR, and we called 911. But it was too late. We had lost him. “

At five months old Everett had died after co-sleeping with his mother – a practise they thought they were doing safely.

She has made a plea through Facebook asking for other parents not to make the same mistake she did. A plea so other families don’t go through the heartache she has.

“Anyone with infants, don’t put them in the bed with you. So many things can happen accidentally, and like I said, we never thought it would happen to us. Now, I’ve lost the love of my life. My angel. My baby boy. We have to get the word out so more people understand that it can happen to them. It does happen. It does happen a lot. As much as you love to snuggle and cuddle your little one, please resist the temptation to do so in bed. No matter how difficult it may seem at the time, put them to sleep in their own crib and avoid the greatest pain that one can experience in life–the pain that we are now experiencing.”

I’ve lost the love of my life. My angel. My baby boy. ( Facebook)

It is a controversial topic fraught with emotions on both sides of the debate.

In Australia 80% of parents admit to co-sleeping with their babies at some time in the first 6 months of life.

Various studies have examined deaths related to co-sleeping but one of the biggest, a study in 2013 from Birmingham City University examined 1,500 cases of SIDS. It revealed that an estimated 88 per cent of deaths that occurred while a child slept with their parents would not have happened if the baby had not been bed-sharing.

Tragically experts say that in the desperately sad case of baby Everett if he had not been co-sleeping he may be alive today.

Angela Bono and Ryan Carmody (Facebook)

His mother, Angela wants to spread the word – co-sleeping can kill. She wants his death to be remembered.

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Her post in full:

This will be the hardest thing for me to write in my life, but if it saves even one life, it is worth it. My boyfriend Ryan and I thought we were doing everything safe for our baby boy, Everett. We placed him on his back in his “pack and play” without blankets or pillows. I would try to check on him every 30 minutes.

My biggest fear was that I was going to check on him one night and he would not be breathing. When he learned to roll over and sleep on his belly, I lost even more sleep.

He loved to cuddle and be snuggled and lay with us. I would get him to fall asleep in my arms by singing “our songs.” Everyday I left for work, he would usually get his bottle and fall asleep with Dad. If he did sleep with us, we always made sure he couldn’t roll off, and we thought we were in positions that were safe.

We didn’t think an accident could ever happen to us, until the night Ryan came home to Everett and I sleeping together and Everett not breathing.

As soon as he woke me up, I immediately started CPR, and we called 911. But it was too late. We had lost him.

Trying to comfort us, a social worker reported that this situation happened 550 times last year in Michigan alone. If this rate is true, it means that over 15,000 deaths like this occur a year in just the United States. But we don’t hear about them because they are accidental– not criminal deaths.

I still have a hard time accepting the accidental part and always will. So please! Anyone with infants, don’t put them in the bed with you. So many things can happen accidentally, and like I said, we never thought it would happen to us.

Now, I’ve lost the love of my life. My angel. My baby boy.

We have to get the word out so more people understand that it can happen to them. It does happen. It does happen a lot.

As much as you love to snuggle and cuddle your little one, please resist the temptation to do so in bed. No matter how difficult it may seem at the time, put them to sleep in their own crib and avoid the greatest pain that one can experience in life–the pain that we are now experiencing.

Your child’s life is too valuable.‪#‎everettjamesawareness is the hashtag. Share this message with everyone who has or knows someone who has a little one. Do it in memory of our beloved Everett!

Already her post has touched others. One mother writing on Facebook:

“Angela, I lived in the same dorm as Ryan our freshman year of college. I’ve seen your posts pop up on my newsfeed and it has broken my heart as I just had a baby 3 months ago. We have gotten into the habit of letting her cuddle in our bed some mornings, which sometimes leads to a cat nap for both of us. After reading this I will be sure that doesn’t happen anymore. Thank you for your post, you are such a strong and courageous mama “

There is no judgement here for Angela and Ryan. No wish to stir up a for and against debate pitting mothers against each other.

I have three children, and with each of them, at times, I have co-slept.

Often by accident, when you fall asleep with that to-the-bone- ache of exhaustion or nodding off while breastfeeding, and at other times deliberately – when they have been sick, or scared.

It’s not a black and white thing. While some are vehemently against it as a “parenting method” and others choose it a way of staying attached to their children, for many it’s just one of a patchwork of parenting ways you muddle through.

Baby Everett.

For many women, me included its often not a chosen path of events but a last ditch attempt at getting just a few hours sleep with a flailing baby.

At times I have woken cold and guilty with the realisation that I had drifted off feeding my baby.

At other times I had sunk into a deliberate daze of sleep-driven oblivion knowing full well that my feisty son was just centimetres away, safe, I thought, fast asleep and I, too terrified to stir him for fear he would start howling again curled up around him warding off the night.

The purpose of sharing this mother’s tragic post isn’t to make others feel judged by their choices or actions.

Truth be told most mothers I know just want to support other women – not criticise them or condemn them – the purpose of sharing this is to raise awareness that it can happen – and that if parents do choose to co-sleep they need to know that it contains risks – deaths like that of beautiful baby Everett – but if they do choose it then they need to ensure they do it safely.

Parenting is about making the safest, best possible choice that you can for your child and it is with that in mind that we share this.

Safe co-sleeping

The Australian Breastfeeding Association say that breastfeeding and co-sleeping mutually support each other as breastfeeding is protective against SIDS. Further protecting her baby, a breastfeeding co-sleeping mother usually adopts a position that facilitates close physical contact and observation of her baby.

If you choose to co-sleep keep in mind these risk factors:

  • Smoking: A baby exposed to cigarette smoke (eg if the mother or father smokes, or the mother smoked during pregnancy) increases the risk of SIDS, regardless of where the baby sleeps.
  • Alcohol, drugs or extreme fatigue: babies are at increased risk of a fatal sleeping accident if they co-sleep with someone who is has consumed alcohol or illegal or sleep-inducing drugs or who is experiencing extreme fatigue.
  • Siblings: Babies are at increased risk of death if they co-sleep with more persons than their parents.
  • Obesity: Parents who are obese may not be able to feel exactly where or how close their baby is and so may wish to room-share with their baby
  • Formula fed babies: Dr James McKenna recommends that formula-fed babies room-share with their parents rather than co-sleep, because mothers who formula feed their babies do not demonstrate the same responsive night-time parenting practices as breastfeeding mothers.
  • Sofa-sharing: Using a sofa, couch, beanbag or armchair as a sleeping place for a baby increases the risk of a fatal sleeping accident.
  • Infant wrapping and swaddling: Do not wrap baby if sharing a sleep surface as this restricts arm and leg movement.

For more Australian Breastfeeding Association Co-Sleeping. 

 

For more:

The common cooking ingredient that stole a little boy’s life.

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