Pink and Blue. You see these colors most often associated with the birth of a new baby. Adorable, pink, frills and bows for a sweet girl, blue hats and onesies for a bouncing baby boy. These colors also adorn the awareness ribbon for Pregnancy and Infant Loss.
My name is Michelle Moskiewicz and I was brought into the world of infant loss on August 7, 2013. Chance, my sweet boy Chance was a wonderful, beautiful, healthy baby boy who was taken by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at two months and twenty-six days old. I guess it’s best to start from the beginning and work my way into that night and how we went about forming Hope For Chance, our non profit organization, that helps with families who have suffered from pregnancy and infant loss.
I found out I was pregnant with Chance about one month into my first deployment. According to the Air Force docs, I was just a little over two months pregnant. So, the Marine Corps sent me home.
Our pregnancy had a few complications, but Chance made his debut at thirty-seven weeks on the dot. He was a handsome chubby-cheeked boy who liked watching his dog and listening to “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Band (he wasn’t very fond of the Darius Rucker version). He was the piece of our family puzzle that my husband and I didn’t realize we were missing. With him, everything was as it should be. His blue eyes, blonde hair, and widow’s peak made him the spitting image of his father- which after being in active labor for sixteen hours I didn’t find fair, but he was perfect.
It was that night, no, early morning when our lives changed forever. My husband had woken up to go to the restroom and had stopped by Chance’s crib to check on him. I only remember his screaming for me to wake up and call 911. For the next five or twenty minutes (it felt like forever) I gave my little boy CPR while simultaneously praying to God that this was a nightmare. To this day, I can still remember the chill on his skin against mine. We followed the paramedics to the hospital and were told there was nothing that they could do, my baby was gone. We were able to hold him for awhile. We were able to kiss his tiny head, to smell his scent, to hold him in our arms. My heart and muscles still ache for that weight, for that smell, to look down and see him.
Almost immediately we were pushed into the Loss World. We were still driving home when we got a call from the hospital asking permission to use Chance’s heart valves. We went through an interview with the police, after they’d gone through our home, Chance’s things. They took samples of his formula, of our water, dirty diapers, his crib sheet. They were looking for a reason, a cause. I am so happy they did now that I look back. For an infant to be classified as SIDS there has to be no other cause of death plausible. Chance had been in his crib, on his back, with nothing else. They had no idea what killed my baby boy.
Immediately I began researching SIDS and getting into contact with all of the major researchers in the United States and joining all of the support groups Facebook had to offer. It was there that I read the story of a family who, after buying all the things a baby needed, still owing the hospital for birthing because insurance didn’t cover it all, after only having her baby girl home for three days, lost her to SIDS. She couldn’t afford a service, a burial, or an urn. She got her daughter’s ashes back in a plastic bag. I said no. I told myself I would never allow that to happen to another family if I could help it. That is the moment that Hope For Chance was born in my mind. Within four months, Hope For Chance was a 501(c)3 non profit whose goal was to assist families who had lost a baby (does not have to be SIDS) with the costs of services, burials, and cremation. We also donate funds to research for Dr. Hannah Kinney at the Boston Children’s Hospital, and every year we host the Run For Hope, an annual 5k awareness run to bring more awareness and education to what SIDS is, what it isn’t, and how families can keep their babies safe during sleep. Hope For Chance, in our short four years has been able to help several families across the United States give their babies a sweet goodbye.
While every late night phone call and e-mail from a family in need or a funeral home does remind me of our own loss, it also reminds me that though he is not here in our arms, he is alive in our hearts and in the hearts of everyone that knows our
story and those we have helped. We will be remembering Chance’s fourth Angelversary this year in just under a month.
I would like to thank Kirstyn for allowing me to guest post here on BurritoBuzz. She and I were brought together by happenstance, through our losses. I hope that any mothers or fathers out there who have suffered the loss of a child, whether miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss through adult loss, know that you are not alone. One in four women suffer with you. We are the guardians of our children’s memories. Whether that memory be a positive test, an ultrasound, a first smile, the first day of kindergarten, or graduation. You are not alone.