Amanda Saucedo awoke in the middle of the night as the infant in her arms began to cry. Before giving birth to her son Ben, the Lorain, Ohio, single mother had served in the United States Army and was already a mother to five-year-old Trae.
Amanda changed Ben’s diaper and took him into bed with her so she could feed him before falling asleep again. However, when she awoke at 8:00 a.m. the following day, she discovered a tragedy beyond any parent’s comprehension: Ben lay dead in a pool of his blood next to her in bed.
This terrible event occurred on November 11th, 2014, and the trauma it caused Amanda continues to this day. When she awoke that fateful morning, she turned over to see Ben lying alongside her as usual, but he was lifeless instead of curled up blissfully as he had been when she fell asleep.
This occurrence has left an indelible impact on Amanda and has heightened every parent’s innate impulse to protect their child from harm; no parent should ever have to endure such unimaginable heartbreak as this young mother did that day.
My heart plummeted to the bottom of my stomach as I looked down at Ben, my darling 30-day-old baby. His usually pink cheeks had turned pale, and one of his nostrils had become jammed halfway down his face. I was terrified when I observed a puddle of blood beside my child’s body.
Desperately, I snatched him into my arms and attempted to rouse him by shaking him and yelling his name. But it was too late; he’d already died. I contacted 911 on my phone, overcome with sadness and anguish while bringing Ben’s corpse downstairs to locate aid.
The operator continually asked me to perform CPR on him, but it was pointless because Ben had already passed away. He didn’t appear like he did when he was alive; his little body was cold and hard in my arms while I sobbed hysterically. The house felt empty for hours afterward without his presence to fill it with pleasure and laughter.
The authorities responded quickly and questioned Amanda about her usage of drugs or alcohol that night, which led to an inquest being held into the incident.
I only had one question for the coroner: was Ben in any agony when he died? The coroner said newborns of this size usually do not feel pain when they suffocate. His response washed over me with waves of guilt, leaving me with the impression that I had murdered Ben.
I explained to the detective that nothing was blocking Ben’s airway and that I hadn’t rolled or lain on him while sleeping, so how did this happen? Despite the detective’s best efforts, it felt as though they were seeking my error, trying to figure out why I had been asleep for so long. When nothing significant was discovered, I was left in limbo with no explanation for the happened.
Ben died tragically due to positional asphyxiation on the day that would be remembered as his last, even though there was no underlying evidence to explain it. Amanda was obsessed with rage and guilt, which seemed to pile on top of itself with each passing day.
As the incident spread, many jumped to their assumptions about what went wrong, ranging from presuming the parent or guardian did not follow safe sleeping recommendations established by attachment parenting specialists to blaming lifestyle choices such as drinking or using drugs.
These assumptions, however, fail to account for a range of extrinsic conditions that can contribute to SIDS and SUDI in neonates. According to research, healthy newborns are nevertheless susceptible to abrupt mortality in infancy regardless of external variables such as parental behavior or environmental risks – a cruel reality Amanda faced firsthand with her child.
Amanda is now working hard to raise awareness about SUDI, SIDS, and other potential sleep-related hazards linked with placing a newborn in bed with another person. She hopes her tale will educate others so they can take the necessary precautions and avoid another preventable tragedy.
Dealing with my child’s sad death was heartbreaking, and the seemingly contradictory emotions that accompanied it left me feeling overwhelmed and helpless. It felt like a flood of agony, and distress swept over me as I spoke those words. The pain was so intense that I would do anything to prevent anyone from suffering such a terrible loss.
Following the death of my son Ben, I felt a deep need to share my expertise on appropriate sleep practices to keep other children safe. Unfortunately, this advice is not usually followed; adults often assume they know better and ignore vital information about how dangerous it is for newborns to bedshare.
Scientific studies have repeatedly demonstrated how dangerous bedsharing may be for little newborns who are predisposed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) (SUID). Although some may claim that they would want their kid nearby if something unforeseen happened while they slept, in light of what happened to Ben, I cannot agree.
My mission is more vital than ever to educate parents on how to lower the risk of SIDS or SUID when caring for their newborns. And, while a wealth of information is available online regarding securely sharing a bed, none of it can ease my pain over losing my kid.
Amanda remembers her son Ben with sadness, always wondering if his death could have been prevented. Would he be alive today if she had known and practiced the ABCs of healthy sleep sooner? Despite her tremendous grief and confusion, Amanda wishes to ensure that no parent ever feels the weight of guilt that she does due to her lack of information regarding newborn safety.
Amanda founded Benny Bears to honor Ben’s memory and to promote the critical need for good sleep practices with other parents. The program offers expecting parents a special plush bear and a tale by Ben himself. The story is a timely reminder always to use caution when putting youngsters down for naps or bedtime.
Amanda thinks that by giving Benny Bears to new parents, she will raise awareness about the importance of appropriate sleep practices for babies and young children and lessen any feelings of responsibility if something goes wrong.
Amanda is determined, through her campaign, to prevent any other parent from feeling the same doubt and shame that she has had since her own tragedy. Furthermore, her ultimate goal is to ensure that all children can spend their nights peacefully, safely tucked away in their beds, without fear or concern.