My son, Trace, was born in May of 2011. I was on cloud nine when he arrived. He was my second son (my oldest, Michael, was born in 2009), and I loved having two cute boys who I could proudly push around in our double stroller on all our adventures. Trace was cute, smiley, and always ready to tag along with his brother and me. I had a heart full of hopes and dreams for his bright future and the person he would grow up to be.
On October 10, my perfect little world was forever changed.
It was a normal Monday morning. I was rushing around to get out of the house for an early teacher meeting when I realized Trace hadn’t woken up to eat yet. I didn’t think twice of it until I opened the door to his room.
I knew immediately when I saw his little body lying in his bed. He was gone. He had died in his sleep at night.
What happened next was a blur.
I frantically called 911, did CPR, and followed the ambulance to the hospital. Seeing my little four-month-old baby lifeless and unresponsive in the emergency room was an out of body experience, and one I can barely register that really truly happened to me.
Trace was gone, and there was nothing anyone could do.
They baptized him in the hospital with a tiny Dixie cup of water, took him away, and we were left to go home without him.
Sudden infant death syndrome, SIDS, was the cause of his death.
What followed seems surreal for me to think back and remember. The days felt like weeks, every minute seemed like an hour. My arms were empty, and I felt aimless with the shock of going from caring for a baby every minute of every day to now having nothing.
Navigating the world after losing a son was not easy. I felt like a ghost and shell of the former person I used to be. I looked the same on the outside, but inside I felt a million years older, and there was a giant hole where my heart used to be.
I became a master at faking it until I made it, while still taking care of my family the best I could. I learned to artfully answer the hard questions people asked me like, “How many children do you have?” My insides would crumble when I had to say “Just one.” It was easier to fudge the answer than trying to tell the whole sad story.
I had to not only grieve the loss of my son, but also grieve the loss of my hopes and dreams for him and for our family. I had to reimagine everything I thought our future held for us, except without him with us.
Slowly, my heart began to heal itself.
I made a pact with myself that even though I was sad and would always be sad about my son’s death, that I would still find the joy in life.
I still had a living son and a family who needed me. Being a good mom to him would be a gift to remember Trace. I couldn’t change what happened, but I could be in charge of how I chose to move forward.
The decision to have another child after a loss was not an easy one. My husband wanted to have another baby right away, and I wanted to wait.
Four years after we lost Trace, we found out we were pregnant. When we went in for our eight-week appointment the ultrasound tech gave us some news that forever changed our lives around again…we were having TWINS!
Ever since, we have been on quite a ride. I have never for a minute not been overjoyed with thankfulness for the gift of two new babies in our lives.
When you have a baby after a loss it is often called a rainbow baby because a rainbow comes after a storm.
I am lucky I have my two babies, my double rainbow, to be thankful for each day.
Although their big brother is not here with them, he is with us always in spirit, and I know one day our whole family will be reunited again in heaven.
SIDS is very real and frightening and can happen to anyone. Please put your babies to sleep on their backs, in a firm bed without any blankets. With our twins we used Snuza baby monitors that clipped on their diapers. We appreciated the peace of mind the monitors gave us.
Never lose sight of your blessings, and watch for the rainbow after the storm.
Rose Kundel is a mother to a busy boy and twin girls. She is a middle school band director by day and loves the energy her students bring to her life. She is an active musician and when not spending time with her family she enjoys reading, gardening, and listening to podcasts. Rose and her husband, Scott, are Cyclone sweethearts and enjoy supporting all ISU sports throughout the year. You can follow Rose’s journey on her blog at A Record of Rose or on instagram @rosekundel.