2 Years ago on a Friday in March I picked up my 10 week old daughter, Tate, from my husband’s work after the flower market. It was a beautiful day and everyone was in good spirits. We had a lovely morning together, we spent some quality time just the two of us in the house and this wee blue-eyed beauty was opening up like a flower day by day with her soft, easy personality. It was a warm day so I didn’t need to put a blanket on her when I put her in her cot for her midday nap. I was in the next room making an over-the-top balloon arch for my sister’s baby shower the following day. She was sleeping soundly in her cot, or at least that is what I thought. That day turned out to be the worst day of my life.
I picked her up out of her cot and knew straight away that she was dead. I called 111 and rushed her to a carpeted room so not to put her on a cold wooden floor. I performed CPR for 7 minutes until the Ambulance showed up. It felt like half an hour. I will never forget sitting on my blue sofa alone in a room full of strangers being told she didn’t make it. Didn’t make what!!!??? Didn’t make her afternoon nap. I couldn’t cry, this was a realm beyond shock. All I could do was make deep, animal, moaning sounds and rock backwards and forwards. I will never forget trying to call my husband while the paramedics were working on her. He wasn’t answering…. I got a text saying ‘In a meeting sorry baby’ I wrote the words ‘Get out of that meeting Tate might be dead’ in my text back. Then the phone call where I heard myself uttering those words that I never in a million lifetimes would have imagined myself having to say about any one of our children “Tate is dead” – How could this be? Our healthy beautiful baby girl could not possibly be dead.
This was a moment suspended in time where we went from pure innocence into the darkness that is losing a child. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is what our daughter’s death is attributed to. I had to agree to an autopsy of her tiny body so they could try and find out what happened to her. It was the worst thing I had to agree to in my life. They found my breast milk in her tummy. They also found absolutely nothing wrong with her, she was a picture of health. The autopsy showed she did not suffocate and we got given an ‘undetermined’ reason for death. So somehow over the past 2 years my husband and our family have had to come to terms with our daughter disappearing for no good reason. I can’t begin to explain the pain and devastation but I can share with you a blog I wrote but decided not to publish shortly after that day.
The little things.
Sometimes life deals us blows. Some are little and annoying like getting a parking ticket, forgetting your swimwear on a beach holiday or having the city council tell you your expensive new fence is non-compliant. All these things have happened to me in the last month and really don’t matter, they’ll get themselves sorted. Then sometimes life deals you an atomic bomb. One you never expected or imagined in your worst nightmares.
3 weeks ago our baby daughter died in her cot unexpectedly. A healthy, beautiful baby girl who was bringing us so much joy every day. Unbridled love, the essence of life itself. Then your life feels like it’s not your own. You are now a different person from what you were before you lost what had been your world. You are lost in the wilderness with no way out.
It’s this that made me question life, the point of it, all the whys unanswerable but pressing down on you. The expanse of a life without your child spanning out endlessly in front of you. It’s early to be philosophical about such a loss. Floristry and my life before the event seem abstract, happiness came free & easy in those days. Now there is a dull ache in the centre of my mind, it feels painful & when I think about why it’s here it surely can’t be true. That just can’t have been. Sometimes the sorrow swallows you up in its enormity and you gasp for air and try and mentally claw your way out. I wanted to blog about this because how could I let this event go unremarked?
Tate would be three months old today and we are missing her every minute of every day. Looking at the big picture is too hard, planning ahead is hard. But when time seems to pass so slowly, minute by minute we can take some joy in the little things. A smile from a stranger, hearing our older two kids laugh, a butterfly floating happily by, the feeling of salt water on your feet, a beautiful flower. Creation must mean something because these things exist, there must be a brighter day up ahead. Pushing on to find that day.
Tate is in heaven and we will never know why she is not with us but we do know we will see her again. Like the little angel she was that came into our lives she has led us slowly back into the light from the darkness.
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KATHRYN FLEMING – CONTRIBUTOR
Mother of 5, Kathryn Fleming is a successful 36-year-old entrepreneur from Auckland. Balancing work & young kids is a day to day challenge and every day is a learning curve as new stages, hormones and household demands ensue.
Kathryn’s third born, Tate, passed away from Sudden Infant Death syndrome in 2015 when she was 10 weeks old. Tate’s death, she decided, would not define her but has changed her irrevocably.
Passionate about motherhood Kathryn’s core focus is living in the now. “Whether that be happy, sad, bitter, sweet – it’s life. No one said it would be easy, but then where’s the growth in easy?”