Family & Pets

“His eyes were open, but he wasn’t there”: Mother recounts baby loss

“His eyes were open, but he wasn’t there”: Mother recounts baby loss

Lindsay Paulsen was on her way back from work when she noticed a missed call from her son Declan’s daycare centre.

The American mum thought her 11-months-old baby had a runny nose or bumped his head – but when she called back, she was instead “greeted with the worst words of my life”.

“‘Declan was taking a nap and didn’t wake up’, his carer told me,” Lindsay wrote in a piece on 7News.

Lindsay, who was pregnant, called her husband Cody and rushed to the hospital where Declan was being taken to.

“I tried to talk myself down. Declan would be fine. I was pregnant and the hormones must be making me dramatic.”

When she arrived at the hospital, Cody was kneeling on the floor outside the emergency room while Declan was “surrounded by a dozen doctors and nurses trying to start his heart”.

She sat in a chair waiting as her husband paced and yelled, “Come on buddy, come on.”

Finally, a doctor came up to deliver the harrowing news.

“‘I’m sorry we did everything we could’ was all the doctor could say, like some line from a movie,” Lindsay wrote.

The shock and grief didn’t hit her until the medical staff stopped their resuscitation efforts, wrapped Declan in a sheet and put him in her arms.

“His eyes were open, but he wasn’t there,” she wrote.

“That sparkle that made him ‘him’, was gone.

“I cried all over my boy and, at the same time, I was trying to memorise every inch of his face, the weight of him in my arms.”

Lindsay was later told her son experienced sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.

“I found out later SIDS is most likely during a child’s first year,” she wrote. “Declan was just weeks away from that milestone.”

That day – March 19, 2018 – marked the last time she saw and held her son.

Years after Declan’s death, Lindsay still speaks of him as an active member of her family.

“I gladly take the uncomfortable silence and looks I get when a stranger asks me how many kids I have and I mention my son Declan,” she wrote on Love What Matters.

“I know my answer is not typical because young people don’t die. Babies shouldn’t die, but they do, and if there was more acceptance of ‘the bad stuff’ in life, mothers like me wouldn’t feel so isolated.”