Co-sleeping and SIDS

Last night for no known reason I felt overwhelmingly sad and anxious.

I was sat alone and crying and I could not control my breathing.

Grief manifests itself in many different ways.

Last night mine got the better of me.

Often when I have had a bad night I wake up and it is a new day.

New energy helps me to feel more positive and to at least make a good start to the day.

Today was not one of those days.

SIDS has been all over the news.

Messages about safe sleep.

For anyone who has not read this blog before, my daughter Matilda Mae, died almost four months ago.

Confirmed cause of death.


Sudden Infant Death.

She did not suffocate or overheat.

For some unknown reason her body just stopped working.

She was in her cot.

But Sudden Infant Death though relatively rare can strike anywhere.

Cot, crib, moses basket.

Car seat, buggy, pram or swing.

Mother’s arms.

And yes, in parents’ bed.

I have not watched the news today.

I have not yet read the reports or research in full.

When I have and when I do I will come back and blog with my head.

Today I am blogging with my heart.

Matilda Mae shared my bed.

She slept safely beside me.

She was in a gro bag beside me on the bed.

Her cot was next to our bed with the side down but that was mainly to stop her from falling out of the bed.

We changed this arrangement not long before she died.

We moved the cot away from our bed and put the sides up.

She was 9 months.

She could have been in a room of her own.

But she was not.

I planned to keep her with us for the first year just as we did with Esther and William.

Tilda was happiest when she slept with me.

She slept on her back beside and turned to feed whenever she wanted.

We slept together and when she was really unsettled she slept on me.

I think hearing and feeling my heartbeat helped to soother her and settle her to sleep.

I wish I had been with Tilda when she died.

I wish she were still alive.

Perhaps she would be if she had only ever slept on and with me.

I am a grieving mother.

I lost my baby to SIDS.

But she did not die in my bed and every day I will wonder, had she been there that night

And not alone in her cot

Would she be alive today?

And if I am ever lucky enough to have another baby

Unless it is proven to be dangerous

To ‘safely’ co-sleep

Then that new baby will be sleeping with me

Just as Tilda did for most nights of her life

But not that night.

Not that night.

This post is written by a sad and grieving mother on a whim, it is not based on any research, it is an explosion from my heart.

23 thoughts on “Co-sleeping and SIDS

  1. Today must be proving unbearably difficult for you. I’m sure that every mother who loses a baby to SIDS always asks ‘what if?’ For you, it’s ‘what if she’d been in my bed?’ For someone whose baby died while co-sleeping, it would be, ‘what if she’d been in a cot?’ You are not to blame xx

  2. There are so many unanswered questions for you but what is totally clear is that you only ever did what was best for tilda. Perhaps this was always going to happen. U don’t know why but maybe that is so. Add you know, I Co sleep and I am not about to change this. Parents need to make informed decisions based on all the evidence. You did absolutely nothing wrong at all. Huge huge hugs for you xxxxxxxxxx

  3. You did nothing wrong. I’m so so sorry that Tilda died and I’m sorry that today’s news has come at a bad time for you and distressed you more. Even through your grief and some of your darkest hours you are helping other people by giving a common sense view of co-sleeping, as someone who hasn’t been put off by today’s unscientific report. Nobody would blame you if your anxiety allowed you to be swayed by it, but I am glad that is not the case. I respect you very much for what you have said today, here and elsewhere. I hope you know it was not your fault and I hope you will always have the courage to follow your instincts as a parent, because you are an amazing mummy. Praying for you Jennie, and sending you love xxxx

  4. I can only imagine how painful the news today must have been for you, it must feel like their were reminders everywhere. You are so obviously such an amazing mother, it shines through your every post. I wish I could say something of comfort but all I can say is that I think you are an inspirational person and I hope you can get through each day as it comes.

  5. Oh Jennie, so sorry that your not yet healed wound has been ripped open again. I haven’t seen the report but from the little I’ve read it sounds like a flawed and unreliable study that obviously had an agenda before any genuine scientific research was undertaken.

    I’m so glad that this didn’t come out before you were absolutely sure that you did nothing wrong (it seemed obvious anyway from what you had written).

    Thoughts are still very often with you and I’m sure fellow grief-stricken parents and those who know your blog and will make an informed choice about their baby’s sleeping arrangements will be more interested in what you have to say on the matter when you are able, than this study x

  6. I know this won’t help and is purely my belief based on nothing. But I’ll say it anyway and you can tell me off later! I know you like to humour my random ramblings and hope none of this will offend you, it’s just me and I could be totally wrong! But I really, really don’t believe Tilda died because of where she was, cot, bed or otherwise. I believe her soul had somewhere higher to be (this throws up more questions than it answers and I don’t know why or why she should come for such a short time and leave a heartbroken mother behind :-( About THAT I have no instinct or feeling for an answer, but bear with me a little if any of this speaks to you at all!) I think if you had slept with her that night, gone to bed earlier for example her soul would have chosen a different time and place to leave her little body and ascend to whatever higher place she was destined for. But I still believe she would have gone. I have no idea why but I feel utterly sure on a cellular level that her soul was needed in Heaven. I don’t think that’s any reason for us not to do EVERYTHING in our power to reduce all risk of accidental deaths and try to find out all we can about SIDS and try to give all babies the very best chances of living if there is any chance at all that might make a difference. But then, where do we draw the line between the medical, biological side of reducing SIDS which I believe is entirely possible and the fatalistic, spiritual viewpoint of all things being meant-to-be on some higher level….Ah, bugger, now I’m confused again. I really do need a glass of wine for this kind of thinking. I’m so sorry. I have NO answers for this :-( But I DO know it’s not your fault and that you were the BEST mother ever who she was blessed to have just as she blessed you. And I am also a committed co-sleeper. I believe whole-heartedly in it. I just also believe Tilda was one special little girl who was somehow so light, and seemed to vibrate on such a high-plane to use bizzarre new-age speak for something I can’t put my finger-on about her, that I think she went where she was made for, or needed somehow, somewhere better than here. Who can have needed her more than you I am mystified by! Why that had to mean she had to leave you and for you to be in such pain, I have NO understanding for. I just have some weird faith against all the odds that there IS a reason, just out of our reach for the time being, and that love and peace and understanding of everything will win out one day. Bleurghhh, I’m SO bad at this without wine. I don’t know. I just send you all the love in the World. You’re still my hero. I wish I could take your pain away. x x x x

  7. I’m sorry this has been such a hard day and SIDS has been all around you in the headlines. I fear you will live with these ‘what ifs’ for the rest of your days. But please remember you did nothing wrong. You moved Tilda to her cot because you believed that to be the best thing for her. My own children never settled well in beside me and both were moved to their own cots and room fairly quickly. We each do what we believe best for our own baby. I am so very sorry that she died. I will never understand why. Sending you much love as always, Helen xx

  8. Hey. I am sorry too that this article has caused so much upset. I dont have any real beliefs around death but I do agree with the person above that Tilda’s place was never meant to be on this earth and she was destined for better things. She would have slipped away from you if you were there or not. Loosing your baby will forever make you question why because it is just so bloody unfair. How amazingly wonderful you are as a Mummy shines through each and every post and we all feel that massive wound that loosing Tilda has left. Thinking of you xx

  9. Nothing I could say could heal the pain. But on the co-sleeping issue – I agree with you. As long as it is done ‘safely’, it is the best thing for a mother and a baby. There are many countries in the world where people only ever co-sleep either because its the norm or because they are too poor to buy a cot. And some of these countries have never even heard of SIDS.
    A bug hug coming your way.

  10. And it’s the not knowing that must be killing you. You won’t ever know that if she’d been in bed with you this wouldn’t have happened, it might still have done. And then you’d be blaming yourself for co-sleeping. This is a terrible dilemma and unanswered question, I wish I could give you the answer Jennie. Hug.

  11. Jennie, the research is pointing at young babies, under the age of 3 months, and some sources say it is still flawed.
    I have to agree with Coco : Matilda Mae was needed elsewhere or maybe she had set in motion what she was sent for and it was time for her to go. Oh so cruel and unfair!!!
    As for this co-sleeping debate, this is when my animal scientist comes out: which mammal let’s it’s babies sleep away from a parent? I don’t know any. My two boys have both slept with us a lot. They were each given their own space, but the moment they’ve wanted a snuggle we take them into our bed. My 4 year old would not sleep for the 1 St 6 weeks unless he was with us, on us, in our arms.
    My daughter never liked co sleeping, except on occasions on daddy’s chest. She however refuses to sleep unless in sweltering hot pjs, bedding and preferably room. All against safer sleeping guidelines, but what can one do?
    … make an informed decision based on the child’s needs.

  12. Oh Jennie these news reports must tear your heart open again, I hope you don’t blame yourself, it might have happened had she been sleeping on you, and you would then be saying ‘if only she was in the cot…what if’. I don’t take these studies too seriously, I think it’s all on a Mother’s instinct and as long you do it safely I don’t believe it to be any more harmful than them sleeping on their own/in their own room. We co-sleep sometimes, I had to a lot in the early days which did frighten me lots, but it was the only way we could get some sleep, sending you love and strength, maybe just switch off the news for now xx

  13. Jennie, I have been thinking of you all day today. Because I woke up to discover I’d won a few lovely things in the Matilda Mae auction. Because I was lucky enough to cuddle my 12-month-old Lily when she opened her eyes this morning. And because you and Baby Tilda in the sky are in my thoughts every day without fail. Then I heard the reports about SIDS on the news, and I knew it would break your poor, heavy, aching heart some more. And it struck me anew how unfair life is. I spent the first few days of Lily’s life with her sleeping and feeding on me. And we co-slept blissfully through her first six months. And I am acutely, guiltily, devastatingly aware that your tragedy could so easily have been mine – or any of ours. So, I just wanted to say – like everyone who has heard your story and come to know you – that we wish you could have some sort of peace knowing Matilda sleeping couldn’t possibly be your fault. And reassure you that you, your family and Tilda are in all of our hearts and remembered all the time. And for all the right reasons: because she is loved and you are admired, and both of you are held dear by so many friends and strangers alike. So, damn those reports! Forget them, and do all you need to do: weep, sob, scream, kick, rage, so that you can bravely carry on as you have always done. With love xxx

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  17. I would be thinking the same thing if I was you lovely.
    If she had been in your bed when it happened, then you would be wondering if the cot would have helped and people would be being very accusatory about it.
    I wish I could tell you that it wouldn’t have made a difference. But I honesty don’t know.
    However a little bit of me has to cling onto what Coco says and believe that there is a mystery to this world, that she was only ever loaned to you for a short time, and that she is now waving down at you and holding hands with your future child, preparing them to come into your most loving hands. I wonder if she waited until she was in the cot in order to make sure no one judged you?
    Sending you huge hugs and it’s an honour to be with you in this weeks fresh five on Tots100.

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