Paul Scully-Sloan, author of Daddy’s with Angels and the founder of the support group on Facebook tells BritMums of the moment he discovered his son TJ had passed away in his cot. SIDS is an abbreviation for Sudden Infant Death syndrome. This post is part of a collection in support for Baby Loss Awareness week.
20th November. It had been a normal day, the kids had been to school and it was just before bedtime. The children were watching television and my wife had taken TJ for a bath. When he had finished he sat and played with his brothers and his sister for a little while. He began to get tired and miserable and his mum asked him if he was tired and wanted to go to bed. He lifted his arms to her and she picked him up. He nuzzled his head into her shoulder and wiped away his snot on her shoulder, as 14 month olds do.
I asked if he wanted a cuddle and he shook his head and pushed it deeper into his mum’s shoulder.
The evening went on and we all went to bed.
The following morning just after 6, we were woken by our daughter, 2 at the time, trying to wake TJ up to play. My wife went upstairs, took her back to her bedroom and returned to check on TJ.
Our other son was standing in the middle of the room, frozen, like a rabbit in headlights. TJ was on his bed, bum in the air, the way he usually slept but he hadn’t stirred from when his sister had been in.
She touched him and as she did, let out an almighty scream calling my name over and over.
I went up stairs, by which time the other children were awake, wondering what was happening. I saw TJ on his bed and immediately knew something wasn’t right. I picked him up and gently layed him on the floor, more gently than I had laid anything else before. I went into auto mode telling my wife to give me her phone, take the children to the living room and put on the cartoons, give them biscuits and stand by the front door. I dialed the emergency services and whilst talking to them on speaker phone gently tried to revive our son. It seemed like a lifetime, but it was only twenty minutes, the longest twenty minutes of my life, something that will sit in my mind and haunt me forever.
A paramedic came in, put his hand on my shoulder and said ‘You’ve done enough’. I already knew I was trying in vain, but would never had forgiven myself if I hadn’t tried.
I went downstairs and told my wife he had gone, it took a second to sink in and she skid to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably.
The house began to fill with paramedics, police and forensic officers. The neighbours were on their steps, wanting to know what all the fuss was about.
My wife accompanied TJ to the hospital in the ambulance where she spent several hours with him. I had to break the news to the children and to other family members. The children didn’t really understand and the family members responded in disbelief.
TJ’ funeral took place 5 days before Christmas. By this time I was becoming quite ill with my liver and was vey weak. I wanted to carry his coffin, but was just too weak. The whole ceremony was a blur and still is today. I guess it’s my mind’s way of protecting itself.
We didn’t enjoy Christmas, but we did what we needed to do for the children.
We had searched for some sort of support following our loss but were met with waiting lists or high costs. Or we didn’t meet the criteria. We started our own group on Facebook but that didn’t work out. I found that there were groups and support for mums but not a lot for dads. So after experimenting with an open group for dads on Facebook decided to open a closed one for dads. The first Daddys with Angels group.
Those familiar with Daddys with Angels will know that we consider you as part of our family. We are interested in how you are and will listen if you want to talk or vent about anything as well as allowing us to support you in your loss.