‘The cold room smelt like bleach. It felt so wrong. ‘She’ll be returned to you in a carboard box.’ We dropped to our knees.’: Mom loses 10-month-old daughter to SIDS

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“On the 15th of January 2019 at 10:40 a.m., my darling princess was born.

And on the 18th of November 2019, at 10 months and 3 days old, she left us for her dreams.

My pregnancy was normal, thankfully, with all the usual quirks.

At our 20-week scan, we were expecting to be told it was another boy, a baby brother to join our two eldest: Kristian (7) and Gabriel (3). So it was a massive shock to be told we were expecting a baby girl, a princess to complete our family. My boys were over the moon, they desperatly wanted a sister, and my partner was in absolute bliss. I went shopping immediatly. Everything pink, glittery, and fluffy I could find was bought.

When I was around 6-7 months pregnant, she started measuring 2 weeks ahead. Midwives kept an eye on it at every appointment. It was ‘no big deal’ they thought. She just wasn’t engaging yet, something normal for someone who has has children before. Just before Christmas, they decided I should have a 37-week growth scan on December 26th, 2018, just incase.

Courtesy of Becky Price

We arrived at the hospital for our appointment. Before they got the chance to scan me, the consultant checked me over and discovered our little girl was going to take after her mother and be breech. Our daughter was a complete breech, 100% upside down. We made an appointment for an ECV (External Cephalic Version) immediatly.
If I knew how painful an ECV would be, I would have just avoided it completely and agreed to a c-section straight away, but looking back now I am thankful because I have her heart trace mapped out.

The ECV proved unsuccessful and I was given the choice: a c-section or natural birth. Obviously, natural comes with its serious issues when the baby is breech and could still result in an emergancy c-section, with longer recovery time. A c-section was my worst nightmare. Two crazy boys at home, a surgery wound on my stomach just made me panic, cry, and stress. I can’t even wear long earrings for the fear they might get ripped out. My family always used to joke with theirs that they were too posh to push; they said this so many times during that week to try and cheer me up.

After days of research and shouting at anyone that would listen, I decided my princesses safety was way more important. That I should suck up my fears and do the best for her. So, we agreed to go ahead with an elective c-section.

On the 7th of January, we got a phone call saying when everything was booked in. We found out our baby girl’s birthday. The 15th of January. We had to attend the hospital the day before to collect our pre meds, meet the anesthesiologist, and sign paperwork to say we except the risks that come along. We were told we would get a phone call later that day to inform us of what time, whether it was a morning appointment or an afternoon appointment. Much to my joy, it was a morning appointment. (It would drive me insane waiting around all day.) We had to be at the hosptial for 7:30 a.m.

I was ready to go. There were wires and solutions coming in and out of my body everywhere. They played music for us while it was all going on, DIO to be exact. They were just talking to me as if nothing was going on. ‘What are you going to name her? Do you have other children?’ In amongst answering these questions at 10:40 a.m., we hear, ‘OH, HELLO’ from the other end of the room. Everything paused and time stopped. She was here. She was perfect. Bright blue eyes and crazy long blonde hair. Our daughter, Primrose Maeve Price, was here.

Courtesy of Becky Price
Courtesy of Becky Price
Courtesy of Becky Price

Life was never the same again. We were happy and blessed. She was an easy baby, absolutley loved her sleep, always having to wake her up. She rarely cried and we were signed off pretty quickly. She had some jaundice, but it cleared up straight away and we were left to develop as a family of 5.

Some things started to happen when Primrose was 3 months old. I kept informing people she wasn’t eating enough. She hadn’t increased her milk intake since she was born. This started to show when she began loosing weight. They called it a ‘failure to thrive.’ We were reffered to pediatricans and dietians. She had blood tests. Everything came back clear, absolutley nothing wrong with her. She was ‘just small.’ However, she also wasn’t hitting her milestones, so we continued seeing the health visitor weekly.

Courtesy of Becky Price

We lived and laughed. There was no major concerns. When she was 8 months old, she changed. She started to hit all of her milestones. She caught up with other babies that age, she was eating everything. It was a massive relief between us and the health visitor. We also went to baby group. She was constantly playing and giggling with her brothers. She was the funniest little girl ever. She had got her teeth and they had the cutest goofiest gap in the middle of them. She loved to flash them at you to make you laugh. She would make a sound when she was excited that we often referred to as the grudge.

Everything was amazing.

Courtesy of Becky Price
Courtesy of Becky Price

Primrose went to bed normally on the 17th of November 2019 at the age of 10 months, after a long day playing and messing around with the Christmas tree that we had put up early. Her brother Gabriel had a horrible cough, so we were up late. We managed to get him to sleep at 3 a.m., and that was the last time we checked on her before we went to bed ourselves in preperation for the school run the next morning. She was absolutley fine and happily dreaming. At 5 a.m., Kristian woke up unable to get back to sleep. I made him breakfast and we chatted about what he was doing at school. at 8:30 a.m., I had made everyone breakfast and asked my partner to wake Primrose up as her breakfast was cooling down.

Thats when I heard a scream. A scream I’ll never forget. I ran as fast as I could, thinking to myself, ‘Why is he screaming about a spider? He’s not scared of spiders.’ It seems silly now, why that would run through my head.

When I got to the top of the stairs, I was confronted with the worst thing anyone can go through. My daughter was gone. I grabbed her from my partner and started CPR. In all the chaos, I turn and see my boys watching everything, and begged them to go downstairs. My partner froze, he could barely mumble his own name, so i knew I had to find help. I scooped her up and ran, banging on the doors of the neighbors and screaming.

Courtesy of Becky Price

Everyone rushed in aid, but it was to late. I held her tight, waiting for an ambulance. I held her the entire journey. Where we were taken, lines of nurses stood with their heads lowered as we were wheeled by. We met with a pediatrican, support workers, charity workers, nurses and the police. They took her off me, cleaned her up, examined her, took a statement, cut a lock of her hair off and took her hand and foot prints. They dressed her in some new clothes, bright pink ones. They gave me a box with all the stuff they had just done, a memory box. All stuff that was confusing and a blur at the time, something I would have never of thought of doing. Then they left. Leaving us alone with our princess. Absolute silence.

A support worker came in to see how we were doing and I remember saying one of the only things I said, not sure why or where it came from: ‘I never got the chance to have her christened.’ Off she ran. She organized a quick christening, with a photographer. That was the last time I ever got to hold my beautiful baby. Shortly after her christening, we were hurried out and were told we could see her in the chapel the next day.

It was a difficult night, full of grief and shock, family members coming and going. None of us knew what happened, none of us could sleep. My boys were terrified. How can their sister just go? It was a countdown until the morning. As soon as it was 9 a.m., we were all on the phone trying to find out when we could see her. By 9:05 a.m., they were fully booked, but they squeezed us in at lunchtime, which allowed us an extra hour with her. Walking the length of the hospital following the sign for the morgue was like they were torturing us. We deserved to feel that pain.

We got to this overly blue and white bitterly cold room that smelt like bleach and death. We mumbled or croaked that we were there to see our daughter. It felt so wrong that our daughter was in such a place. They led us into a room where a small cot sat, a cot that had bumpers on. After all the safe sleep instructions, my daughter was put into a cot with bumpers. We looked over the side, and there she was, asleep. She was ice cold, as if she had been frozen. A water drop rolling down her cheek. We dropped to our knees as if reality had hit us. She was gone. An hour of tears holding her face in our hands and asking her why she left us.

Courtesy of Becky Price

Wednesday morning, we rang again, asking if we could see her. We couldn’t. She had been transffered to the coroner and it would take at least 3 days for the post mortem to be complete. 3 days of sitting around waiting, crying and questions. Pain that she was going through this process alone.

Friday, while we waited, we met with the funeral home, where they have to be brutally honest: ‘You may not be able to view her with an open casket, as it has already been a while. We cannot guarantee her condition.’ ‘You have to sign this paperwork which says you acknowledge that if you have her cremated, you may not recieve any of her back due to her size.’ ‘She’ll be returned to you in a little carboard box.’

Horrific things to hear, horrific things to imagine, not good enough for my princess. I made as many decisions as I could; what she’ll be wearing, which coffin, music to be played, mode of transport, all before having to leave. We just couldnt sit there anymore.

Monday morning and we still didn’t hear anything. Millions of phone calls were made. Why haven’t we heard something? My sister finally got hold of the coroner himself, where he explained that no cause had been ascertained. Well, what does that mean? How can a child just die with no cause? ‘It may take 6 months for pathology to come back.’ 6 MONTHS!?! The coroner released her body, but there was nowhere to go. The funeral home wouldn’t except her without a preliminary death certifiacte, which was still in the mail.

Friday. Friday was the day she finally made it to the funeral home. She was finally safe and no longer alone. They assured me they were looking after her as if she was their own, that she was beautiful and perfect and we could see her. They amazingly opened on a Saturday so we didn’t have to go another day without seeing her as it had already been 12 days. We pretty much ran to the funeral home. We needed to see our girl. There was a very small white coffin with a silver plaque which read ‘ Primrose Maeve Price fell asleep 18th November 2019.’ We braced ourselves, they told us she looked like she was sleeping. A curious thing to install into someone, because it is not that way at all.

After 12 days of fighting to see her, I managed 20 minutes before running out and vomiting all outside the home, pure horror and guilt for being unable to stay longer. I made up for it though. I sat with her everyday for as long as I could, stroking her face and kissing her. We gave her photos of everyone, a braid of my hair, pictures her brother drew for her and letters that everyone wrote. Letters that still remain between them and her.

Her funeral was the 12th of December, 2019. Everyone attended. Family, friends, health proffessionals, and everyone from our community. Bright white horses and a carriage overfilled with bright pink flowers. The village plastered in pink bows, everyone wearing as much pink as possible, a community Christmas tree topped with the biggest bow in memory of our girl. Everything fit for a princess.

Courtesy of Becky Price
Courtesy of Becky Price
Courtesy of Becky Price

After the funeral, it got harder and harder. There was nothing to work towards, nothing to concentrate on. We couldn’t see her anymore. Life felt empty.

We decided to make a webpage in her memory, where donations were accepted for Thelullabytrust, a charity working on answers for SIDs (suddent infant death syndrome), answers we desperatly need. Something we could also concentrate on. Her 1st birthday grew closer and closer and we needed to do something.

A balloon release and birthday cake, with some little presents for her. Our friends bought loads of balloons and sold them to everyone in the community for $2 each so we could all release them together, and the proceeds would get donated to Primrose’s tribute page. $107 was raised from her balloon release, $753.25 overall. We have vowed to never stop talking about Primrose and we will always be searching for an answer. We are currently in correspondance with scientific advisors and our local mps, on improving information that is handed out to families. We will never stop.”

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Courtesy of Becky Price
Courtesy of @karma_queen_forever

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