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Surviving the Loss of a Child

14/08/2016 22:41 | Updated 14 August 2016
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Statistics. Nobody cares about them until you become one.

In April 2014, our darling baby boy Edward fell victim to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), formerly known as cot death, when he was only three months old. In a matter of seconds, our whole life was irrevocably shattered.

Whilst the number of babies who die each year from SIDS has decreased over the years, around 290 babies still die each year in the UK. Despite medical advances and safer sleep guidelines, the medical profession is still unsure what causes SIDS. By definition, SIDS is an unexplained cause of death.

On every medical test possible Edward was perfectly healthy. We were left with no reason or attributable cause as to why our baby boy left us. He didn't tick the usual risk factor boxes with SIDS babies - he was a big strong boy, never slept on his tummy and neither myself, nor my husband Chris, were smokers. Our health visitor even dismissed the SIDS leaflet we were given and told us it was so rare that we had absolutely nothing to worry about.

Except we did and nothing could have prepared us for that fateful night.

Losing a child is every parent's worst nightmare. No parent should ever outlive their child. It flows completely against the natural order of life and is the worst loss imaginable. As a parent you are meant to protect your child and I felt so utterly helpless.

In that moment, I pleaded to swap my life for Eddie's. And when my pleas were unanswered, I pleaded to die too so I could be with him. I simply couldn't envisage living a life without my son.

Our loss was further complicated as Eddie was our first and only child. In a split second our whole identity changed. Everything became past tense. We were parents. We were a family. We had a baby boy. Now it was just the two of us. Chris and Jen. How could we continue to be parents when Eddie wasn't here?

When we said goodbye to Eddie in the hospital Chris and I made a promise. We would live our lives for Eddie and make him proud in everything we do.

We decided very early on that we would set up a charity to search for answers and to honour Eddie's memory. Teddy's Wish was set up in July 2014, just three months later, to fund potentially life saving research into SIDS, neonatal death and stillbirth and provide bereavement support for grieving families. Crucially, it also allows me to continue to parent Eddie in some way.

We know the charity won't bring Eddie back but we hope one day it may help others. Since setting the charity up in July 2014, we have so far raised nearly £300,000. As a small charity, we have no overheads so all proceeds go straight to research and support.

In February 2016 we welcomed Eddie's younger brother into the world. Ollie has shone lots of love and happiness back into our lives again but our happiness will always be tinged with sadness. Eddie will always be a part of our family and our first baby boy. Today we should be a family of four, not three.

We have undeniably changed as individuals and as parents. Our innocenece has been taken away and we know how life can change an instant, without warning. Anxieties are always high for first time parents but ours are exceptionally high as we will never feel safe in the knowledge that Ollie will be ok. We have a monitor on him 24/7 and sleepless nights have taken on a different meaning!

It's hard to look at the positives in life when you have suffered such a tragic loss but today we have adopted a deeper appreciation for the present. We cherish every second we have with each other and with Ollie; we don't take anything for granted.

The pain of losing Eddie will always be with us. I don't believe grief every goes away, it just changes shape over time.

We will always work tirelessly on Teddy's Wish to keep our promise to Eddie. He may not be here but he is here in spirit and I will always be a parent to both of my boys.

Watch our video here, and visit us at teddyswish.org.

This summer The Huffington Post UK is spearheading an initiative helping families thrive, with a focus on parent wellbeing, the challenges facing stay-at-home and working parents, friendships and navigating the landscape of modern parenting beyond the 2.4. To kickstart the campaign, Jamie Oliver guest edited the site, bringing a focus on feeding healthy families.

We'll be sharing stories and blogs with the hashtag #ThrivingFamilies and we'd like you to do the same. If you'd like to use our blogging platform to share your story, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com to get involved.

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