August 21, 2005 is the day that would change my life forever. It is the day that changed the dynamics of my family, my relationship with my husband, and my role as a mother to my 3 year old son. August 21, 2005 is the day that my 11 day old son, Michael James, died. Michael was born by a scheduled C-section on August 10, 2005 weighing 8 lbs. 5 ounces; his vitals were normal and unremarkable. Michael came home just a few days later to meet his brother and new family. We were elated! My husband and I brought Michael to our pediatrician for his 1 week check-up, and he was gaining weight and his vitals were all normal! Over the next few days Michael slept more than usual and had some feeding issues. I was told this type of behavior in an infant was normal. What would follow next, is still a mystery and would forever change the life I had known. Just a few days later, Michael would stop breathing. It was a beautiful Sunday and my parents along with my brother, his wife and their daughter came to see our newest addition to the family. Later that day Michael began to have labored breathing and I immediately called his pediatrician to tell him we were taking Michael to the hospital. My sister in law was holding Michael when his breathing had stopped. My husband began giving Michael CPR, I was calling 911 and our 3 year old son, along with my family members were all witness to something incomprehensible. Michael was rushed to the hospital and despite all efforts, we lost our son that evening. That moment when a team of physicians enters the room to tell you that your child has died is a pain unlike no other. We held our son for the last time that evening, not understanding what had happened. The days that followed were surreal. Making decisions to bury our child, selecting our own burial plot so that eventually we would rest next to our son required us to summon strength we didn’t know we had. We buried our beautiful baby boy on August 25, 2005.
An autopsy report would find that Michael died from viral myocarditis. The examiner’s report was unable to isolate the virus that caused Michael’s death. Reading this report and searching for answers that weren’t there was heart wrenching. The report was describing my baby, his hair, the yellow onesie he was wearing and the tag that was put on his toe identifying him as Michael James Aldarelli. Between my tears, I was trying to read and understand this report, but finding no rhyme or reason as to how something like this could happen.
Our family was irrevocably changed. Personally, I began to develop extreme anxiety regarding my three year old son’s, Edward, health. When he got the slightest cold, I went into a panic, frozen and unable to think clearly. I would bring him to the doctors to be reassured, but I was never able to relax until the cold was gone. I knew that I was being irrational and that my child was being affected by my behavior, but I was unable to reel in these emotions and eventually had to seek therapy. I would constantly ask myself, What did I miss? What did the doctors miss? What if I took him to the hospital sooner, would Michael still be here? I blamed myself for the death of my son and it hurt more than anything I have ever experienced in my life.
My relationship with my husband changed as well; both of us trying to sort out a way to move on, a way to make sense of what happened to us, both of us handling this loss in different ways. Eventually, we were able to work past our pain, and and two years later on February 7, 2007, we welcomed our third son, John Michael into our family. Having our son was wonderful and emotional but I was still very anxious and overwhelmed with fear that something might happen. John is now 8 years old and our son Edward is twelve.
Discovering R Baby Foundation helped me deal with my sorrow, guilt and anxieties that had built up inside of me. Hearing about others who had gone through a similar experience was cathartic. The journey that I have taken these past 10 years has been quite emotional. Although I miss Michael everyday, I am now in a better place. My family has persevered. We appreciate everyday and our very precious life. I feel empowered and want to support the R Baby Foundation and their mission to educate parents. I want to play an active role to help fund their life-saving programs that help so many children and their families.
My life will never be the same since my son’s death, but I have been able to finally move forward after such a tragedy.
I want to help others who have traveled this road, hoping to shed some light on a very dark place. I know first hand that one can rise from such a tragedy, stronger and better than they could ever imagine. This is my mission, in the name of my son Michael James Aldarelli to help others turn their life around, when all hope is gone.
It is my hope that sharing my story will help families who have experienced the loss of an infant and provide the encouragement and support when an unimaginable tragedy strikes.
I am forever grateful for the R Baby Foundation for its support and it’s mission to improve pediatric emergency care.
— Kim Aldarelli