Below is the story of a beautiful little girl, please take the time to read and educate yourself in honor of George, Alayna, and all those other babies who are now in heaven without their parents waiting to be with them again some day.
Alayna Vivian Goetz 9/25/10-9/26/10
I was 5 days overdue when my labor started on Friday night (September 24). We made it to the hospital on the evening of Saturday, September 25, after my water broke at home. I was admitted at 5:42. Alayna was born at 8:35 in the OR (They were prepping me for an emergency c-section because her heart rate kept dropping, but when the nurse went to put in my catheter, her head was already emerging. I delivered vaginally and drug free.)
Alayna was 7 lbs, 14 oz and 20 inches. She was perfectly healthy (APGAR scores of 7 and 9). I was able to breastfeed her almost immediately after she was born.
Shortly before our family left for the night, a nurse wheeled Alayna down to our room in her plastic bassinet. It looked like Alayna would be sleeping in our room that night. I had no intention of her rooming in with us, especially since I was so exhausted. I think I’d slept about 4 solid hours since Friday night. But I figured it was time to start being a mom, so I didn’t protest her being with us. Plus, my husband Paul had been told by one of the nurses in the nursery that Alayna should sleep pretty well that night since most babies do right after being born.
Well, Alayna was obviously not like most babies. When Paul went down to the car to get his bag of clothes, she began fussing. Of course, she was just out of arm’s reach. I hadn’t been out of bed yet and I was afraid to get up for the first time without Paul being there to help. So, she continued to fuss until he came back and was able to give her to me. I knew she needed to eat, but I couldn’t get her latched on. After struggling to nurse her, I sent Paul down to the nurse’s station to ask for help. He said they were all finishing up our paperwork and would be down shortly. I was starting to get frustrated with Alayna for not latching on. I eventually got her latched on, but it just didn’t feel right…it didn’t feel like it did when I nursed her earlier. So, I took her off…I’ll always question why I did this. For the life of me, I couldn’t get her re-latched. She sure had my personality: stubborn to a T. I was getting even more frustrated, and I’m sure she was, too. I finally decided to push the call button for a nurse around 12:15 a.m.; a nurse came down.
She tried helping me get Alayna latched on in the normal nursing position, but once again, Alayna’s attitude got in the way. She wouldn’t latch on to either breast, so we tried the football hold…no luck. Finally, the nurse decided we should try the side lay method. So, I laid down on my left side and Alayna was laying on her right side facing me. The nurse propped her up with a pillow behind her and my left arm was somewhat supporting her neck. I was a little bit nervous and I remember thinking to myself “Just don’t roll over on her.” However, this worked! Alayna finally latched on. The nurse stayed with us for a little while before leaving our room around 12:45. Shortly after she left, Alayna came unlatched, but I was able to put her back on. This was progress! In the meantime, Paul got ready for bed and laid down on the couch across the room.
The next thing I remember is when another nurse came into our room at approximately1:15 a.m. I had fallen asleep. I know she took Alayna out of my bed and asked me some question (maybe it was if I had been nursing her?). Next thing I knew, she said she had to take her down to the nursery and she ran out of our room with Alayna. Before long, I heard Code Pink being called over the PA system. I immediately began panicking and I was yelling at Paul to wake up. He came over to the bed and tried to calm me down. No one told us anything. Someone came and even shut the door to our room without telling us what was going on. I was sitting up in bed, crying, panicking, and flailing my arms. I begged Paul to let me call my sister who was a nurse; I clearly remember her saying she knew what Code Pink meant, but that she didn't know what Code Yellow was (that was called for my emergency c-section). He appeared much calmer and wouldn’t let me call her at that time of the morning. At one point, he even said that we didn’t know the Code was even called on Alayna. I, of course, said something to the affect of, “The nurse just ran out of the room with our daughter. Something is wrong!!” He just kept assuring me that someone would be down soon to tell us what was going on. This wasn’t good enough for me. Once again, I pushed the nurse call button. The lab tech lady came in and when I asked her what was going on and what was wrong with our daughter, she didn’t answer. She just said something along the lines of “The doctor will be down soon.”
I was really beginning to fall apart when a doctor and two nurses ( walked into our room and shut the door. To this day, I have no clue how the doctor broke the news to us that Alayna had died at 1:47 a.m, just 5 hours after her birth. It’s just something I knew once they walked in the door. As I’ve always said, they don’t send in a doctor and two nurses to tell you everything is perfectly okay. I know I fell apart. I was crying and screaming and questioning the doctor. I kept saying, “I did this. I did this. I killed my daughter, didn’t I?” The doctor told me more than once, “We don’t know that.” “You can’t say that.” and “No, you didn’t.” Paul was very quiet through all of this. I remember at one point asking the doctor, “So, if I didn’t kill her, what do you put on the death certificate? SIDS?” He said he wasn’t sure. The doctor and nurses assured us they did everything they could for Alayna for the 14 minutes they worked on her. They offered multiple times to make phone calls to family for us, but I was insistent that we make them. I did ask for them to call my midwife, though. Before they left our room, they said they would get Alayna ready and bring her back down to our room.
I called my family, but I don't know what I said. Paul called his mom and simply said, "She's gone." Our family all came back to the hospital. A deputy coroner and our priest were also called. Despite the doctor and nurses saying they would bring Alayna back down to our room, the deputy coroner would not allow this. We could not touch her again. We had to say our last goodbye through the nursery window.
Somehow, Paul and I got through the next few days and weeks, including Alayna's visitation and funeral. On Monday, October 18, the County Coroner called my cell phone while I was at work. She had the autopsy results. Sure enough, the cause of death was “overlay.” When I asked what that meant, she told me that Alayna basically suffocated. With those words, my worst nightmare came true. (After talking further to my midwife and nurses, they believe Alayna came unlatched and rolled in toward me. She was found lying next to me with her head turned down into me and the mattress.)
I called Paul right away; he didn’t really know what to say. I went back to my classroom and told the ladies I worked with. I was an absolute mess and just kept saying, “I did this. I did this. I killed her.” Of course, the ladies were quite comforting and kept assuring me that it was not my fault. They kept saying it was in God’s plan and that I did everything right. This seems to be the common response from people when they hear my story.
However, I can't get past the tremendous amount of guilt I have over this entire situation. Knowing I wasn't found literally on top of her did help with some of my guilt. But, the bottom line is that despite having no intention of co-sleeping, I fell asleep while nursing my 5 hour old infant daughter and she died because of it.
For any of you who are reading this who do co-sleep, please think twice before you place your child in bed with you. No one should have to suffer the pain and guilt that I deal with daily