It was a Monday. My world ended on a Monday while everyone else was getting ready to start their week, I was trying to figure out what happened. Am I still dreaming? I don’t understand what’s happening. I want to die. I can’t do this. I want to die. Please let me die. I can’t take this pain. It’s not even been an hour and I don’t know how I am supposed to live without him. Oh god I have to tell Caroline. What am I going to say to Caroline? Is this real? This can’t be real. I can’t breathe. I have to die. But there was no beautiful release from the depths of hell I had just started to live in. I couldn’t save myself anymore than I could have saved him. I had entered my own personal hell. No one could help me. I had plummeted far past any sadness or pain I had experienced before. I had entered an area of horror and pain I was entirely unaware existed and there was no coming back
Sunday April 6, 2014
The day was like every other day. The weather was nice, spring was close by. We had taken Matty with us to pick Caroline up at her friends house. He met her friends parents, who we were friendly with at the time, but not very close with. We became much closer in the weeks that followed. It’s still strange to me the people who are with you at your lowest point in life. It’s never who you expect.
We came home and we went for a walk. The rest of our day and night we spent sitting around just hanging out.
We put the kids to bed a little late considering it was a school night for Caroline but not exceedingly late. We went to bed after the kids fell asleep. Matthew had his bottle before he fell asleep.
April 7, 2014
I woke up at 3:30am. Matty was screaming. His scream didn’t sound like his usual scream. My husband Michael woke up and walked around the bed to the rock & play where Matty had been sleeping. He picked him up and said “what’s wrong little buddy?”
Matty continued to scream. I got him a bottle and Michael handed him to me. He instantly stopped screaming. He wasn’t interested in his bottle. He should have wanted his bottle. I didn’t think much of it. We all went back to sleep.
Yes, I was co-sleeping, and yes I am aware of what is said regarding co sleeping, however I am an enormous supporter of co-sleeping. I understand that many people feel differently about it and I absolutely respect their feelings. We all need to do what’s best for our families. What works for me may not work for you and that’s okay. That being said, I am not okay with anyone attacking me for my feelings and choices regarding co-sleeping. I co-slept with our oldest daughter, I did so with both of my boys. One died. I don’t feel that co-sleeping had a thing to do with his death.
Michael woke up for work around 4:45am. He checked on Matty and he was fine. Michael checked Matty again before he left at 5:20-5:30am and again Matty was fine. I woke up at 6:40am and before I opened my eyes I sensed that something was terribly wrong. I don’t know how to describe it but I knew, in those first few seconds between sleep & reality alarm bells were wailing in my head. I could tell by the position of the sun in the sky that it was later than Matty generally woke up. I remember thinking that Caroline slept through the night for the first time at 6 weeks. Matty was 6 weeks and 4 days old. Perhaps? But no. Those bells couldn’t be silenced. It will always astound me how many thoughts I had in mere seconds. Absolutely incredible.
Matty was lying about 8-12inches away from me to the left side. Matty was put to sleep propped ever so slightly on his side. He was a gassy little guy. I didn’t use any pillows or rolled up blankets to keep him propped up. I know better than that. There is such a thing as safe co sleeping.
Matty was no longer on his side. Matty was facedown. I didn’t understand. I picked him up. I knew immediately. I knew he was gone. But I couldn’t help myself I had to try to bring him back. I screamed. I screamed “NO! NO MATTHEW! NO BABY NO” his body was warm, there was a small amount of blood coming from his nose. He had purple blotches on the lower left quadrant of his jaw and upper left corner of his forehead. His body felt a bit rigid. I will never forget the way the weight of his body felt in my arms. It haunts me to this day.
I started chest compressions. I picked up my phone to call 911. I couldn’t unlock the screen. I was playing with my phone the day before and saw it had a facial recognition lock so I had turned it on to see how it works. I never turned it off. Now I’m trying to save my son. I can’t unlock my phone because I can not stop looking at him long enough for the phone to unlock. After several attempts I finally got it unlocked. I called 911 as I continued chest compressions. I did chest compressions while holding the phone between my ear and shoulder, carrying my son down to the first floor. The 911 operator told me to give him rescue breaths. His jaw was difficult to open, I gave him several breaths, I pulled back and screamed again. There was more blood coming from his nose. I was on autopilot. I was disconnected from what was happening. I wouldn’t have been able to function otherwise. I needed to function. I needed to save my baby. Oh God! Caroline. My daughter was 8 and a half years old and sleeping upstairs. I remember two prayers I repeated in my head over and over again, “Dear god, please bring him back to me” “dear god, please don’t let Caroline wake up to see this”. I heard sirens, I ran to the street with Matthew in my arms. I don’t remember this, but my neighbor Chris said I was screaming “SOMEBODY HELP ME” “MY BABY SOMEONE HELP ME” Chris came running outside. He and the ambulance reached me at the same time. The paramedics took Matthew. I didn’t tell him I love him. I didn’t tell him he’s one half of what keeps my world spinning, his sister being the other half. I never kissed him goodbye. The paramedics spoke very little that I remember. I only remember hearing one of them say “we’re going to Lowell General” my heart lifted a bit. Lowell General has a pediatric department. They must think there’s a chance. The next thing I heard was “scratch that, we’re going to Saints” and I knew. I knew what I knew before, that he was gone. That my precious baby Matthew was not coming back.
I knew I still had to deal with Caroline. What was I going to tell an 8 year old little girl who had been waiting her whole life for a sibling? How do you break your child’s heart? What do you say? I was back in my house. I don’t know how or when that happened. I was sitting on my couch. The police were talking to me. I didn’t understand a single question they asked. I stared at them. My neighbor Chris asked me if Caroline sleeps upstairs. I nodded yes. Three police officers walked upstairs to her bedroom and checked that she was truly asleep as I had apparently claimed she was. To this day I have no idea why I wasn’t brought to the hospital with Matthew. I have no idea how the police knew I had another child in my house.
The officers came back downstairs, satisfied that she was sleeping. Caroline woke up when she heard her bedroom door closing. She got dressed for school. The police were asking me questions. I only remember being asked if I am married. I nodded yes. An officer told me I need to call my husband. I was once again faced with unlocking my phone. I stood holding my phone, motionless, lost. How? I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to work my phone. Chris came to the rescue again and helped me unlock it, and dialed the numbers I gave him. Michael answered. He was oblivious. He didn’t know that life was over. I hesitated then said (according to Michael, I don’t remember any of this) “He’s gone. Matthew is gone” then I handed the phone off to an officer. He told Michael that he has to come home right now. To drive safely and try to stay calm.
I was asked if there’s anyone else I should call. I nodded yes. I called my mom with Chris’ help. She didn’t answer. I called my sister. She told me that I said “Matty wasn’t breathing I called 911…call everyone”
The police were talking to me again. I couldn’t answer their questions I didn’t know the answers. I didn’t understand even the most basic of concepts. Caroline came down the stairs. She was dressed for school. She saw all the police officers, paramedics, & EMT’s and became hysterical. She was crying. She was scared. She had no idea what had happened yet. She started calling for me between sobbing like I had never heard or seen from her before. I’ll never forget the sound of her scared crying voice calling to me “MAMA MAMMMAAA”.
The sound of her voice brought me back from wherever my mind had crawled to escape this unbelievable pain and soul crushing grief. I stood up, I stood face to face with Caroline and put my hands on her shoulders and said “Matty wasn’t breathing. Momma had to call 911″ she was crying hysterically. My heart had completely shattered. I hugged her and said over and over again ” I love you, I’m sorry I love you Caroline. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry baby”
The police were watching me. I realized I needed to stop apologizing for something I had no control over in the first place. I stopped talking and Caroline pulled away.
She was calming down, a tiny bit but it was something. Chris told me that after I spoke to Caroline I really lost it. He said I was asked to put shoes on but I couldn’t remember where I kept shoes. My friend Nancy and her two daughters showed up to pick Caroline up for school just as they always did. She asked me what happened. I said I don’t know. I started spinning in circles very slowly saying “Caroline, Caroline our baby is dead oh god our baby is gone. Caroline. Caroline. Caroline what are we going to do? Our baby is dead”. I didn’t know what I was saying or doing. I wish I hadn’t lost it so badly. I wish I hadn’t made it that much more difficult on poor Caroline. I was told that they were bringing me to the hospital. I was brought outside at some point. I don’t know when any of that occurred or how it occurred. I only remember standing in front of a gurney while an EMT loaded Caroline into the back of an ambulance. I tried to speak. I tried to tell them to get her out of there. That this is all unnecessary. That she shouldn’t have to ride back there. And then I was put on the gurney. I tried again. I shook my head no. The EMT told me it was necessary and started to strap me down. I kept shaking my head. My words wouldn’t come. I wasn’t making sense when words did find their way out. My words didn’t match my thoughts.
We drove to the end of the street I live on to our destination…the hospital.
The storm had only just begun and I had already, metaphorically speaking, died a thousand times over.