Moms and Dads
This Mom’s Story Is A Reminder That SIDS Can Happen To Anyone
Trigger warning: This is a story of loss. Once upon a time, a baby boy died of SIDS, leaving a family devastated to its core. Now, Angelica De Leon-Panganiban is determined to help others through awareness.
Angelica De Leon-Panganiban once had a 19 month-old son. She also had a daughter (but that’s another story). And now she has none.
At 1:00pm, January 14, 2021 right after breastfeeding, Alonzo took a nap. Angelica decided to leave the room to get her chores started, and came back an hour later only to find Alonzo’s pillow soaked in sweat. His lips had turned purplish and he was unresponsive.
She tried tapping his cheeks to wake him up but his cold, limp hand gave it away. CPR didn’t work either. It was then she realized that what she feared most was true. In an instant, her son was gone and her life would never be the same.
“I’m his first love for sure,” says Angelica. The breastfed child always clung to his mom, kissing and hugging her all the time. “In his last moments, before he fell asleep, he looked at me, gave me a long kiss and just leaned on my shoulder.”
He was your typical toddler who loved cars, CoComelon and story time with his mom. Nobody could believe that such a healthy and active boy could be taken away so suddenly.
Angelica loves to remember how sweet he was; she worries she’ll forget the way he kissed her and felt in her arms. But she also can’t forget when she found Alonzo and couldn’t hear his heartbeat.
What losing a child feels like
To say that Angelica is living every parent’s nightmare is an understatement. Losing a child because of SIDS is unexpected; it’s never fair and never makes sense. Imagining who they could have been, remembering the simple moments, all the regrets… It is something you never get over; a pain that never goes away.
It is devastating and the grief is intense. It is the wake up call you wish you never had, reminding you just how fleeting life is. It pokes you in the rib when you’re feeling so done with #momlife to remind you that there are others out there who wish they were feeling just as tired as you are.
“I wish I never got tired after cleaning all his mess. That I never got angry at all the noises he’d make when he was crying. I am willing to trade everything for a messy and noisy home, just to have him by our side,” she says. “Motherhood is tiring, yes. But do not get tired for one second of being a mother. Because nobody knows how quickly you could lose someone.”
It’s been more than a month since Alonzo’s passing. For Angelica, talking and writing about Alonzo is a way to keep his memory alive. Through the comments on her Facebook posts, she receives the support she needs to get through this trying time. She’s found her village who constantly lift her up with their kind words and comments.
What is SIDS?
Officially known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, it is usually used to classify unexplained deaths in children. It usually occurs when small children or babies are left unattended, especially when they don’t have full neck control yet. Sometimes, these deaths are attributed to other medical conditions or unsafe sleeping environments. “This is why you have to be very vigilant,” Angelica says, “Keep an eye on your children and always put them first.”
Life is uncertain and all the plans we make can be upended at any time. Now, hug your babies and kids a bit tighter and sniff their heads a little bit longer before you put them to bed. Remember how lucky you are and make every moment count — it’s all Angelica wants for us.