After losing her son to SIDS, a Shreveport mom has a message for families who have suffered the same heartbreaking loss.
Walking through her daughter's nursery, Meagan Henry can't help but to think just years ago this is where her son once laid. "It's hard, It's sad because I obviously want him here."
Instead, all she has are old photos, toys and clothes in a box full of memories that once belonged to her first child, Austin Henry.
4 years ago, Austin seemed like a happy and healthy baby boy, until tragedy struck October 25th, 2009, just 3 months after he was born.
"I said, 'Come on baby it's time to get up,' because it was a weekend and I didn't want him to sleep all day, so he would be able to go to sleep that night," said Henry.
But Austin didn't make a sound. She tried to wake him up again, this time picking him up. That's when she noticed he was a different color and was unresponsive, she started to scream for her husband. "My husband came in here, he started doing CPR, we were really trying to help him."
After unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate Austin, they called 911. EMT crews arrived and attempted to revive the little boy, but to no avail. The healthy baby boy had suddenly died, with no signs of trauma or health issues. "They did an autopsy and toxicology report," says Henry. "Everything came back normal."
Then came the guilt. "Maybe I didn't hear him on the baby monitor is there something I could have done. Did I do something wrong?"
But she didn't. An autopsy showed baby Austin died from SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Struck with grief and diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, Meagan reached out for help. She found a support group for families like hers.
Kay Asher had lost two babies at a young age. In an effort to help other women like her, she started "A place that warms the heart," a support group for families who have suffered the loss of a loved one.
She recalls her first encounter with Meagan. "She was very distraught. She and her husband just were in the throws of grief. She found that she was able to talk with others and not to have anyone make judgements and just to listen," says Asher.
According to the CDC, SIDS happens when an infants' death cannot be explained after thorough investigation. In Louisiana, there are about 80 SIDS deaths a year.
"We don't really know the exact cause of SIDS, and they've done a lot of research into it. Some of the things people worried about, is it contagious, is it due to a vaccine, those are not the causes, says Dr. Martha Whyte with Louisiana Public Health.
There are some preventative measures you can take to avoid the deadly fate. One way is how you put your baby to sleep. It's important to place them on their backs to sleep. Also, have a firm crib mattress that fits in the crib correctly. Limit the amount of covers and blankets you have in a crib and avoid smoking around your child.
Today, with only memories of her little boy, Meagan shares this message: "If this does happen to you, and I hope that I never want to see a parent go through what I've been through, it's honestly the worst pain imaginable to lose a child. But know that you're not alone in your grief."
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