‘She’s not breathing!’ I woke to my husband violently shaking, holding our lifeless baby. I call the coroner for answers every day. It’s a ritual.’: Mom loses daughter to SIDS, says she was ‘ripped away with zero explanation’

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“Every morning since I have returned to work, I have a ritual. I sit at my desk, log onto my computer, check my voicemails and then call the Pulaski County Coroner. Today marks 45 days since my 2 1/2-month-old daughter died in my arms. I have been calling the same man for weeks trying to receive updates on my precious baby’s autopsy. I always introduce myself the same way:

‘Good morning, David. It’s Wren’s mom, Amanda.’

He is always polite, warm, never annoyed. With his southern drawl he says, ‘Good morning, Mrs. Thaman. I’ve got nothin’ today.’ My heart breaks again, but I thank him and tell him I’ll call tomorrow. 

Courtesy Amanda Thaman

Today is dark and rainy. Completely fitting, because David has the answer I have been so desperately seeking. The cause of death of my adorable, happy, healthy baby is classified as: UNDETERMINED. Also known as SIDS. 

Courtesy Amanda Thaman

On July 6th, my husband and our children woke up for an amazing day out on Lake Cumberland. The sun was shining, you could already hear boats out on the water. I made a cup of coffee, crucial sustenance when getting three children ready to do anything.

I began prepping for a long day out on the water, and I remember my oldest daughter Campbell sitting on the bed with me as we covered every inch of 11-week-old Wren’s body with sunscreen. We even giggled as we made a sunblock mohawk with her hair. It was a great morning and a flawless trip out on the water. I used to joke and deem the day a success if my children were alive and asleep by at least 10 p.m. on weekends at the lake. When I think about how carelessly I would jest about their survival, it makes me nauseated.

Courtesy Amanda Thaman

Fast forward to 3 a.m. that next morning. I woke up to my husband violently shaking me, holding our lifeless baby, screaming, ‘She’s not breathing, Amanda. She’s not breathing!’

I was exhausted in the middle of the night and had pulled Wren from her Dock a Tot into bed with me to nurse. Something I did with both of my older children, something I did with Wren since the day she was born. I thought I was dreaming, but when I looked over at my husband holding my limp, pale baby, my mama heart instantly knew. This wasn’t a dream; my baby was dead.

My husband shrieked at everyone, anyone that had a working cell phone to call 911. He ripped off sweet Wren’s onesie and started performing CPR. Everyone in the cabin was awake now and hysterical, including our two older children. It was 30 minutes before paramedics arrived, but my husband never gave up. He never stopped pumping her little chest and putting his entire mouth over her nose and lips to provide precious oxygen. I don’t remember what I was doing. I just remember knowing… nothing is going to work; I saw my baby’s face and she was gone. 

Courtesy Amanda Thaman

Paramedics arrived and asked if she had ingested drugs. When we went to hospital’s pain room, the doctor and nurses delivered the horrifying news, but were also seeking an explanation. I don’t blame them, I was writhing on the cold hospital floor wailing, ‘I killed my baby. Oh God, I killed my baby.’ We had no answers to provide. Wren was alive when she went to bed and simply stopped breathing in the middle of the night. How could this happen? My husband assured me and everyone at the hospital that she was right next to me, not under me, not face down, not covered by a blanket, simply laying on her side. He said something about the moonlight shining through the window on her face that gave him an eerie feeling and caused him to turn on the lamp next to our bed and make the spine-chilling discovery. 

We were interviewed by police officers, and the cabin was searched. Wren had no physical trauma, no congenital abnormalities. Every drug and alcohol test completed post-mortem came back negative. They removed my tiny baby’s organs and examined them under a microscope. They found nothing. 

According to the CDC about 3,500 babies are lost to sleep-related deaths each year. They tell you breast feeding reduces the risk of SIDS, they tell you laying them on their back will prevent this awful tragedy, they say co-sleeping is dangerous, but they also say it’s a good way to get some rest while your baby eats and snuggles close. They say it happens more often to boys than girls. I’m here to tell you, this horrifying tragedy does not discriminate. My daughter was breast fed, she co-slept, and I was considered a ‘helicopter mom.’

Courtesy Amanda Thaman

I would check on her every 15 minutes when she napped during the day. She was ripped away from our family with zero explanation, only endless amounts of questions and what ifs. Leaving her parents with unrelenting guilt and self-loathing. 

Courtesy Amanda Thaman

I remember a week before the worst day of my life we were going to move Wren from her bassinet into her own room in her own crib. My husband said, ‘Let’s wait. That sudden infant death syndrome still scares me.’ I rolled my eyes and smirked in response, ‘I thought I was the paranoid one.’ That would never happen to us. That’s only something that happens to other parents. Well, I’m here to tell you, it can happen to anyone.”

Courtesy Amanda Thaman

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amanda Thaman.  Follow her journey on Instagram here.  Do you have a similar grief journey? We’d like to hear your story, for other parents to know they are not alone. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

Read more powerful stories of parents working through child loss:

‘We played, smiled, sang. Daddy took him downstairs. At 5:15 a.m., my beautiful little boy was unresponsive.’: Mom loses her son to SIDS, claims ‘not a day goes by where I don’t cry’

‘I ran to the laundry room. Something told me to put my hands in the washing machine. I resisted. No way. Are you kidding me? Of course he is not in the washing machine.’

‘I went into my son’s room to wake him. I could sense something wasn’t right. I remember the pallor of his face as I turned him over. Grey. Porcelain.’

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