It was just after my 18th birthday when I found out I was pregnant. I remember feeling really sick one day and my friend joked I might be pregnant. Little did we know, I was!
After a pretty problem-free pregnancy, Archie was born in July 2012. He became stressed after being induced and was born by emergency C-section 12 hours later, weighing 7.4 ounces.
He was amazing – worth all the sickness, pains and nights in. He had blonde hair and loved to pout – he quickly developed his own little personality and he had the cutest laugh. He loved the mirror, he could drink milk for England and was a little chunk with skinny legs and big feet.
When the health visitor came to do Archie’s first check, she gave me a leaflet about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The mention of SIDS made me feel sick but she said it was nothing to worry about as it probably wouldn’t happen, but that she just had to tell me anyway. I don’t think she wanted to worry me by going into detail about the risks.
Looking back, I was really scared; I didn’t want to hear the word ‘SIDS’. And besides, I’d been told that it wouldn’t happen, so I didn’t see the point in worrying myself. I quickly put it to the back of my mind and told myself it would never happen to families like mine.
When Archie was 6 weeks and 4 days old, we said goodnight to him for the last time.
I woke up around 7am and remember thinking that Archie had slept through for the first time. But when I turned to look at him, his nose was bleeding and his lips were swollen. I tapped him but he didn’t wake up, and that’s when I started screaming. My sister started CPR.
When we got to the hospital, a nurse came to me and said ‘Archie needs you’. For a moment I thought he was ok – that I hadn’t lost him. But as soon as I saw him, I realised I had. I was told that I probably wouldn’t get an answer to why.
The hospital was very supportive while my family and I helped each other to grieve. And when the results from the autopsy came back, we found out that Archie had died from SIDS.
Six months later at the coroner’s court, a doctor told me that if I hadn’t have been co-sleeping, then there was a chance that Archie’s death might never have happened. For him to tell me in that way made me so angry; it made me feel responsible for Archie’s death. It was the first time anyone told me that co-sleeping can increase the risk of SIDS, even if you don’t smoke, drink or take drugs.
If I had known the risks before, I would obviously never have co-slept. So why had it taken the death of my baby for someone to tell me the risks?
Now, four years later, I’m fighting to get clearer guidelines on safer sleep for babies. I’m teaching parents things about safer sleep that no print out or leaflet could tell you, and I’m also working with Little Lullaby to get safer sleep advice out to young parents. I tell everyone with children to follow the safer sleep advice and tick every box, because one little change could save your baby’s life.
I believe that every parent has the right to know clear information about how to keep their baby safe, but even when I was pregnant again with my second son Tom, I was still being given mixed messages about co-sleeping when, the fact is, it does increase the risk of SIDS.
I hope that, one day, all parents will know how to reduce the risks of SIDS, so they don’t have to experience the loss that I did.
In loving memory of Archie Scully (15 July 2012 – 6th September 2012)