The thought of one of my children dying — or any child dying, for that matter — is something I honestly can’t bear to think about for more than a second. But the fact is, sometimes children die; many of them accidentally. And now, one brave mom is sharing the story of her own child’s accidental death with the world in hopes of saving others from the same fate.
On July 3, Jordan DeRosier’s 7-month-old son Sloan died suddenly in his sleep. As the grieving mom recounts in a heartbreaking and now-viral Facebook post, her boy was strangled to death by a blanket that had been left in his crib.
“He was last laid down to bed with this blanket made by his great-great grandmother, and one other blanket, a grey one he had been attached to since birth,” DeRosier explains in the post, “They took the grey one he had been found with his head in. He had pulled it through the crib rails somehow and gotten himself stuck in it.”
The story is hard to read, let alone live through; but tragically, DeRosier did. And she’s now living through the nightmare that has followed — and sharing the truth openly — and the hopes that no other parent out there will ever be in her shoes.
In the photo that accompanies the post, the visibly grief-stricken mother appears to be clutching the blanket she’s referring to, which was made by Sloan’s great-great grandmother. She looks like she’s holding onto it for dear life — the one remnant she has of her baby boy. (As DeRosier explains, the young boy seen in the photo next to her is actually her other son.)
The grieving mom goes on to express the complete and utter shock she is dealing with as she comes to terms with Sloan’s death.
“You never think it will happen to you,” the mom says, “You never think it will be your baby.”
The sting of her words is truly powerful. And what makes this post even more striking is the fact that DeRosier is using this unthinkable tragedy to spread an important lesson about sleep safety for babies, just a few short days after her own son’s death.
“Please do not put your babies to bed with a blanket,” DeRosier pleads, “Please. He was 7 months old, I thought because he was crawling, standing on his own, and climbing, that he would be fine with a blanket.”
DeRosier’s message echoes some of the guidelines puts forth by the Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) regarding safe sleeping conditions for babies. As the AAP explains, up until their 1st birthdays, babies should be put to sleep on their backs. They should always be placed on a firm sleep surface, and any objects or blankets should always be kept away from a baby’s sleeping area.
“Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the baby’s sleep area,” advises the AAP. “These include pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, blankets, toys, bumper pads or similar products that attach to crib slats or sides.”
The AAP also explains that if you’re concerned your baby might get cold, you should use clothing designed specifically for infant sleep, or a wearable blanket.
All that being said, I can completely understand why DeRosier thought it was acceptable to put baby Sloan to bed with a blanket. We tend to forget that older, more mobile babies like Sloan face some of the same dangers that younger babies do.
DeRosier shouldn’t feel guilty about making an understandable mistake; but we all know that any mother in her position would, and those complicated feelings come across clearly in her post.
“This is the face of immense, unfathomable grief, the face of longing, of heartbreak, of self inflicted GUILT,” DeRosier writes, “I will NEVER stop feeling responsible. I will relive this for the rest of my life knowing EXACTLY what I could have done differently. Please learn from my world shattering mistake.”
Unfortunately, when DeRosier first shared the news of her son’s death on Facebook, she not only had to deal with her grief and shock over what had happened, but also some harsh comments from strangers who inaccurately blamed vaccines for Sloan’s death.
“To those who keep commenting and messaging trying to blame vaccines for our son’s death — stop,” DeRosier wrote. “Initially I had not wanted to explain the detailed circumstances of his death because of my guilt and the fear of condemnation from others. But I will not allow anyone to try and place blame where it does not belong.”
I can’t believe that DeRosier has had to deal with that on top of everything else. And seriously, who comes to comment about something they know nothing about, just days after a mother has experienced the worst possible thing she could ever face?
But that right there is yet another reason to rally behind this mom with unwavering support — and hopefully remind her that she is stronger than she knows.
As a mother of two young boys myself (who were babies only yesterday, it seems), I can’t help but feel broken just reading DeRosier’s words. I do hope she finds solace in the fact that sharing her story may in fact save another baby’s life, and that alone is reason enough to spread her message far and wide.
But most of all, I wish her peace as she finds her “new normal” amid this unimaginable tragedy.