I have battled my own mind for most of the day, wanting to write about having finally been given Sloan’s toxicology results. I wanted to express what this feels like. I wanted to express how everyone thinks being told a cause of death should be “closure” and how, for us, in every way- it is not.
It took twelve weeks for the person at the other end of my weekly phone call to the medical examiners office, to say “Yes we have results”. Twelve weeks for her to finally be able to say “It is documented as Sudden Unexplained Infant Death”. SUIDS. She’d said it. I heard it. And yet, it helped nothing.
I had expected her to tell me they had no results yet, like every other call I had made, so I had called while I was home alone. I heard those 7 words she said, and then I was underwater. Everything else she said was muffled, almost inaudible. She said something about how sorry she was for our loss. I couldn’t absorb anything else, so I said “Thank you” and hung up. I was shaking, my chest felt shallower than usual. My eyes stung and my knees felt weak. I was alone.
I thought about what this meant. All the web searches, articles, and studies I’d filled my mind with since his death. How I had so desperately hoped the medical examiner would find something, anything, that would explain what had happened. I knew that there is so much confusion around SIDS/SUIDS, and not enough awareness. Despite mounds of research done for decades, to try and pin point the root of SIDS/SUIDS, it is still a very grey area with no discernible cause.
Sloan’s autopsy found no signs of suffocation or struggle. There were no remarkable findings. He was healthy, perfect. SIDS is not a diagnosis, it gives no explanation, answers no questions. It is simply something spelled out in the “cause of death” line on his death certificate and autopsy report. It is not closure. Though the blanket as found near his head, there were no fibers found in his airways, no signs of breathing troubles. It could have been the blanket, or it could have been something else. We will never know. For whatever reason, he didn’t wake up.
So please, do not tell us how great you think it is that we can “finally move forward.” Don’t tell us you’re hopeful this is the closure we needed. Try to understand that this is a bittersweet step in this journey. This is another reopening of the wound, it is another wave crashing down. Our baby just didn’t wake up. He just, didn’t wake up. There is no closure in that.
You can read more about SIDS/SUIDS here