As the baby in her arms started to cry in the middle of the night, Amanda Saucedo woke up. The single mother from Lorain, Ohio, had already given birth to Trae, age five, and had served in the US Army before becoming a mother to Ben.
Ben’s diaper was changed, and Amanda brought him to bed with her so she could feed him before dozing off once more. However, at eight in the morning when she woke up, m. The next morning, she awoke to a tragedy that no parent could fathom: Ben was dead next to her in bed, lying in a pool of his own blood.
On November 11th, 2014, this terrible incident took place, and Amanda is still suffering from the trauma it caused. She turned over that fateful morning to see Ben lying beside her as usual, but he wasn’t curled up blissfully like he had been when she had gone to sleep; instead, he was dead.
No parent should ever have to experience such unfathomable heartbreak as this young mother did that day; this incident has had a profound impact on Amanda and has heightened every parent’s innate impulse to protect their child from harm.
Ben, my sweet 30-day-old baby, was in front of me when my heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. His normally pink cheeks had turned paler, and one of his nostrils had become partially blocked. When I saw a pool of blood next to the body of my child, I was terrified.
I snatched him into my arms and desperately tried to shake him awake by shouting his name and shaking him. But it was too late; he had passed away. While carrying Ben’s body downstairs to seek help, I dialed 911 on my phone, overcome with grief and agony.
The operator kept asking me to give him CPR, but Ben had already passed away and there was no point. He didn’t look the same as he did when he was alive, and when I held his tiny body in my arms, it was cold and hard, and I sobbed uncontrollably. Hours later, without his presence to bring joy and laughter, the house felt empty.
Prompt response from the authorities led to an inquest being held after they questioned Amanda about whether she had consumed any alcohol or drugs that evening.
The coroner said newborns this size typically do not feel pain when they suffocate. I only had one question for the coroner: Was Ben in any agony when he died? I felt as though I had murdered Ben after hearing his reply, which washed over me in waves of guilt.
Despite the detective’s best efforts, it felt as though they were seeking my error, trying to determine why I had been asleep for so long. I explained to the detective that nothing was obstructing Ben’s airway and that I hadn’t rolled or lain on him while sleeping, so how did this happen? I was left in limbo without any knowledge of what had occurred when nothing significant was found.
Ben died tragically from positional asphyxiation on the day that would be remembered as his last, despite the absence of any supporting data. With each day that went by, Amanda’s feelings of resentment and guilt seemed to pile higher and higher.
As word of the incident spread, many people immediately made assumptions about what went wrong, from assuming that the parent or guardian had disregarded safe sleeping guidelines established by attachment parenting experts to blaming personal choices like drinking or abusing drugs.
However, a number of extrinsic conditions that can cause SIDS and SUDI in newborns are not taken into consideration by these hypotheses. According to research, healthy newborns are still prone to abrupt mortality in infancy regardless of external factors like parental behavior or environmental risks – a heartbreaking reality Amanda personally experienced with her child.
Amanda is currently putting a lot of effort into spreading awareness about SUDI, SIDS, and other potential sleep-related risks associated with putting a newborn in bed with another person. In order for others to take the necessary precautions and avert another preventable tragedy, she hopes that sharing her story will educate others.
Dealing with my child’s tragic death was heartbreaking, and the conflicting feelings that came along with it made me feel helpless and overwhelmed. As I uttered those words, I experienced a wave of agony and distress. I would do anything to spare anyone from experiencing such a terrible loss because the pain was so great.
I felt strongly compelled to share my knowledge of safe sleep practices after my son Ben passed away in order to protect other children. Unfortunately, adults frequently assume they know better and disregard important information regarding how risky it is for newborns to share a bed. This results in this advice not being generally followed.
Scientific research has repeatedly shown how risky sharing a bed can be for small newborns who are susceptible to SIDS or Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). I can’t agree with those who say they would want their child nearby in case something unexpected occurred while they were sleeping because of what happened to Ben.
My goal of educating parents on how to reduce the risk of SIDS or SUID when taking care of their newborns is more important than ever. And even though there is a wealth of information about safely sharing a bed available online, none of it can lessen my sorrow over losing my child.
Amanda always wonders if her son Ben’s passing could have been avoided as she remembers him with sadness. Despite her immense grief and confusion, Amanda wants to make sure that no parent ever feels the burden of guilt that she does due to her lack of knowledge regarding newborn safety. If she had known and practiced the ABCs of healthy sleep sooner, would he be alive today?
In memory of Ben, Amanda established Benny Bears, which she uses to educate other parents about the importance of good sleep habits. A unique plush bear and a story written by Ben are provided to expectant parents as part of the program. The story serves as a helpful reminder to always exercise caution when putting children down for naps or bedtime.
Amanda believes that by giving Benny Bears to new parents, she will increase awareness of the value of good sleep habits for infants and young children and lessen any guilt feelings if something goes wrong.
Through her campaign, Amanda is determined to stop other parents from going through what she did after her own tragedy, which was tormenting them with doubt and shame. She also wants to make sure that every child can spend their nights in peace, safely tucked away in their beds, free from worry or fear.