Healthy babies with cautious, loving parents don’t just die, do they? But that’s exactly what happened to Amanda Saucedo who lost her one-month-old infant to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome.
The second-time mum was woken by baby Ben who was fussing, so she brought him out of his cosleeper to change his diaper and breastfeed him. Shortly after he latched on, Saucedo drifted off to sleep.
When she was woken by her 8 a.m. alarm, she found Ben cuddled up against her like he loved to do. But something wasn’t right.
“His face was pale and his nostril was stuck halfway down. I sat up and I realised there was a pool of blood next to Ben,” she told The Scientific Parent. “ I thought to myself, “No. No. This isn’t happening!” I picked up my little 30-day-old son, laid him on his back, and started to gently shake him saying, ‘Ben! Ben! Wake up! Wake up, Ben!’”
It was then that I realised he was not going to wake up. He was already gone.”
Once the realization sank in, the questions began.
“Did you have any alcohol in the last 24 hours? Did you take any medication in the last 24 hours? What position did you find Ben in? What position were you in? Are you sure you have not consumed any alcohol recently?” asked the detective.
Saucedo had only one question, though — “Did Ben suffer?”
“The answer I got is something forever burned into my mind… ‘Babies this small generally don’t suffer when they’re smothered,’ the [the coroner] said.”
It was in that moment Saucedo was consumed with guilt but she knew she didn’t lay or roll over him and that there was nothing blocking Ben’s airway when she slept. Yet somehow after she fell asleep, Ben stopped breathing.
Weeks went by before Saucedo received Ben’s final cause of death — Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrom (SUID). Although the autopsy wasn’t able to prove Ben suffocated, his death was ruled an accidental asphyxiation.
“I was one of the unlucky mothers who got a coroner that refused to rule a death as SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) because of his sleeping conditions. Naturally, I was angry and consumed with guilt,” she says.
“I call this my hell day. It is the worst story to tell. And it never seems to get easier.”
Saucedo is now speaking out about her nightmare and started a non-profit organization named Benny Bears in Ben’s memory, to warn other parents of the dangers of co-sleeping.
“Many people tell me that if their babies were to die for no reason in their sleep, they would want their child next to them, instead of alone. I would also have to disagree there,” she says. “Never knowing if my baby would still be alive had he been sleeping alone is something I will take to the grave with me… But I would not wish this feeling of guilt and never knowing the answer on anyone.”