You don’t know me. In fact, you have never seen my face before……but you have seen my daughters.
After my baby girl suddenly passed away, my heart not only broke to learn the grisly news that she would be leaving my hands for yours…but as a parent…as her Mama I was frightened. Scared not because I didn’t know what an autopsy would entail, but because I knew it was going to be performed on my most precious of treasures.
I was given no choice but to entrust you with my beautiful little girl. I had no other alternative but to physically release her from my desperate arms that awful afternoon and watch helplessly as she was carried out of the hospital room to be handed over to you.
See, I felt guilty. I felt anxious. Part of me felt responsible for her death and you were going to be the place that would provide me with the answers I needed to move on. You were going to be my healing…….my closure. When your call came that next day to tell me you could find nothing…..no cause as of yet, I was devastated…. yet I remained hopeful that the answer would soon come.
But it didn’t.
My husband and I waited impatiently for months, we called insistently, we got angry, and we cried. We became disappointed in the lack of compassion, empathy, and support we were given. We almost gave up every time we were greeted with an annoyed voice at the end of the phone or we never received a call back as promised.
But we didn’t.
See, my daughter, my Audrey was not my job….she was my life. She was to me what you leave your work to go home to each night. She was not a lifeless body or a combination of slides and tissue samples….she was full of life. Her smile could and still can brighten even my darkest of moments.
Thirteen months later, when frustrations and exhaustion had finally set in…..you once again cheated me of my closure. Reading through those two pieces of tear stained papers, the words “Undetermined” killed me more a little bit each time.
You wrote, ” Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a classification that has been used in infants one to twelve months of age for whom no environmental, anatomic, or functional cause of death can be identified…..many who certify these type of deaths prefer the classification of “Undetermined”. As I continued to read how you had found no changes that would have had revealed themselves if my baby girl had suffocated, but how you did find that my sweet girls case was identifiable to SIDS….. you also went on to say because of bed sharing, that because of my choice to pick up my baby and lay her beside me…that because of your new system based on what you “prefer” to call these tragic sudden deaths…..that my Audreys death would forever be undiagnosed.
I want you to know that your “preference” will always haunt me. That your undiagnosis will forever cause me to think what-if? I want you to know that this case may be over for you….that this report may be filed away in some back room never to be looked at by your eyes again, but that I……but that other families in my position, will continue to see it every single day for the rest of our lives.
So today…..as I sit in anxiousness……anxiousness that I could have been responsible….anxiousness that I could have prevented it….and anxiousness that I may never truly know an answer……..
I am thankful that my God is bigger than you.