Happy Birthday Connor! Celebrating the life of my SIDS baby – by Alison Rhodes, The Safety Mom

By The Safety Mom

Today, my baby would have become a teenager. Connor died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in 1997. He was 3 mos. and 24 days old. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him and feel his presence next to me. I went on to have three more beautiful children and they all know about their brother Connor.

People deal with the death of a child in different ways. Some choose to shove it under the carpet and completely ignore it. Unfortunately that only works for so long. Eventually the grief has to come out. I was given the most wonderful book when he died, The SIDS Survival Guide. It helped me to not only deal with my grief but make me realize that I wasn’t alone.

Friends and family never know what to say to me still. The hardest part for a grieving parent is that, for everyone else, life goes on after a while. But for the parents, it’s changed forever. The world even looks different. Only a few people will even think of calling me today to let me know that they remember that it’s Connor’s birthday. It’s usually not that they’re insensitive, it’s just that, in their mind, they assume that by calling me and talking about it, it will make me feel worse. As if they’re reminding me about something I would never remember if they didn’t tell me! The best advice I can give anyone who knows a parent who lost a child is they want to know you remember! It’s as simple as picking up the phone and saying “I’m thinking of you and remembering your beautiful son.”

We celebrate his life every year on April 12th. Each of my children know they have a brother in heaven. When someone asks them how many brothers and sisters they have they immediately say 4. That’s reality for them and it makes me happy. We’ll get balloons this afternoon, write something on them and then send them up to him in heaven. Then we’ll eat cake. I won’t lie and tell you that I’m not going to shed some tears today. I absolutely will. And I’ll play Janet Jackson’s Together Again – it’ my private song for him.

And yes, I’ll celebrate his life, as short as it was. Connor gave me and many people an incredible gift. I’ll always remember how many people reached out to me when he died to tell me how he touched their lives and made them hug their own children a little tighter. People who never met me or my son but heard about him sent letters and e-mails about how special he was.

Connor gave me a gift too. He helped me find my passion and follow my dreams. If I could change the way things happened I would but, through the tragedy of his death, I found who I was meant to be and my calling. I count myself lucky that I’m one of too few people in this world who wake up every day loving what they do. Child safety and baby proofing was never something I thought I would do but it became so clear once he died. I wanted to help other SIDS parents work through their grief and educate other parents on how to help save their children’s lives and prevent injuries. I had the good fortune of working with Oprah Winfrey on a PSA for SIDS and testifying before Congress to increase funding for SIDS research. I met the most incredibly caring people at First Candle who literally brought me back to life. And every day I hear from and interact with hundreds of people who share my passion for keeping kids safe. As The Safety Mom and founder of Safety Mom Solutions I get to do what I love! Thank you Connor, for giving me that gift. Happy Birthday baby – Mommy loves you.

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.

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12 Comments

Filed under Life Stories, Uncategorized

12 responses to “Happy Birthday Connor! Celebrating the life of my SIDS baby – by Alison Rhodes, The Safety Mom

  1. Denice Dutra Laveris

    Hi Alison. It’s such an ironic twist to our lives that after going thru school from WAY back when, we should share such a terribly tragedy. I lost my baby Gabriella to Trisomy 18. This year she would have been 9. Like you, I wonder each year what she would have looked like …what she would have been doing. …and mostly – would I have appreciated life this much if she hadn’t left us so soon.

    I feel a little piece of what you’re going thru today. Happy Birthday to Connor. There are alot of babies here now who are that much safer because of the direction he gave you.

    Thanks for the work you do. We’ll be thinking of you and your family today.
    Much love, Denice

    • thesafetymom

      Thanks Denice. You walk around every day and no one sees the pain we carry in our hearts. It’s such a strange/hard day – celebrating a life but missing it sooooo much!

      • Victoria

        Alison, I came across a youtube video, you where talking about the back to sleep campaign and education parents on the importance of safe sleep for their infants. I want to say good for you for reaching out and helping other parents keep their precious angels safe. I am also a SIDS mom, I lose my son Konur (Pronounced Connor) to SIDS on September 7th 2008, he was 10 weeks old, and since his passing I teach new and expecting moms, caregivers and medical professions the importance of Safe Sleep….. When I saw your video I had to search and send you a message and say that it is nice to see other SIDS moms reaching out to try and save another family from enduring the pain we have had to endure… Hugs to you and your family… Victoria.

  2. Oh Alison- My thoughts are with you today. You are such an inspiration to me and I thank you for that. I hope the sun shines its warmth on you today 🙂 -lisa

  3. Caryl Deiches

    Hi Old Friend — I have always thought, but never said this to you, that you are such an amazing inspiration to so many. I remember the day you received the call at work and for months/years after now how you continue to spread information, hope and such a warm caring spirit to everything you do no matter what challenge you may face. This post was so personal and insightful. I feel empowered now to talk more with my friends who have experienced similar loss in a new way. Happy Birthday Connor and Alison hope you and your family have an awesome celebration today! Cheers —

    • thesafetymom

      Thank Caryl! I have to tell you, I’ve maintained connections wtih so many amazing people from Weber Shandwick days. It was a terrific place to work with some really caring people. Look forward to talking soon

  4. Wow. You are an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing this story. What an inspiration. A good friend of mine lost a baby before I knew her and I’ve always wanted to tell her that I admire her for being strong enough to maintain herself and live on. Your post encouraged me to do this. Thank you and I hope your celebration goes fabulously! Happy Birthday to your little one! Even though I never met him, I’m sure I’ll never forget him.

  5. Connor, you certainly picked an amazing Mom to inspire to greatness! You have done more in 3 months and 24 days than most people will do in a lifetime; all a testament of just how much you will always be loved and honored! Happy Birthday Connor!!!

    Alison, I love you girl, you are amazing and I am so lucky to have YOU in my life! Sending you hugs. blessings and strength!

  6. Anonymous

    I came across your site while doing a search on how to celebrate the life of a baby that passed away. My baby girl’s life ending just an hour and a half after it began on May 19, 2008. I was only 23 weeks pregnant when she was born. I just wanted to leave a comment because it hit my heart when I read the paragraph about, for everyone else, life goes on.. but for the parents, it has changed forever. I can also relate to, you just want family and friends to acknowledge that your baby had a life, no matter how short it was. You are blessed to have had 3 more children and that is wonderful that they still consider Conner their brother! I pray that we will be blessed too, with at least one more. Not for a “replacement”, because we will never forget our little angel, but I believe it will help with the pain and help us to heal our broken hearts.. I’m sorry for your loss and I wish you success in all you set out to achieve!!

    • Safety Mom

      Thanks for sharing your experience with me. Any loss of a child is so hard. Connor’s b’day is coming up in a few weeks and it always puts me in a strange (read bitter sweet) mood.

      I wish you happiness moving forward and that you are blessed with more children as well.

      My first book will be coming out in May and has a section on still birth and SIDS. It’s something people need to know about.

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