Liam Francis Scull was born a beautiful, happy and healthy baby on November 5th, 2015. Just four days before he would have turned 8-months old, Liam suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Prior to July 1st, 2016, I had no idea what SIDS was. For those who don’t know, SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, meaning a baby who is completely beautiful, happy, and healthy, just like my cousin Liam, can unexpectedly pass away. I remember that day so vividly. I remember coming home from work and being told that they had to take Liam to the hospital because they thought he was having trouble breathing. I remember not worrying because I thought Liam probably had a minor cold. So I went about my afternoon without a second. Then I heard my mom shriek. I rushed down the stairs and was so confused and so numb when she cried out those two words that’ll forever haunt me: “He died.” Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to come downstairs to that news. I felt hopeless and lost.
When my dad explained what SIDS was to me, I immediately became so angry. I couldn’t comprehend that an innocent infant could just one day not wake up with absolutely no explanation as to why. It wasn’t fair. It still isn’t fair. Although SIDS has decreased by 50% since the start of the Safe to Sleep campaign in 1992, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, it is still the leading cause of death for children under the age of one. Some aspects of SIDS are unpreventable at this point in the research, but there are environmental factors that we can control to decrease the risks of SIDS. Some of these factors include creating a safe sleeping environment where the baby sleeps Alone, on his/her Back, in a Crib (ABC). When infants sleep on their stomachs, in their parent’s bed, and on soft surfaces, they are at a higher risk for SIDS.
I can divide my life into two chapters: one before Liam and one after Liam. His life and death have made me a better version of myself, but it took me a while to get to where I am today. Initially, I was anxious, irritable, upset and grieving. I eventually channeled that energy into something positive and productive to honor Liam’s life. On my 20th birthday, I donated all my birthday money to SIDS research, with hopes that scientists can one day find a preventative to those unpredictable factors that we do not currently understand.
This October, in honor is SIDS Awareness month, I have started a fundraiser with Meghan Foster, another Villanova junior who founded BeadzbyMeg. 100% of the proceeds from the SIDS Awareness bracelets go to the Maternity Care Coalition. My goal is to help all parents, no matter their race, age, culture, or socioeconomic background, provide safe sleeping environments for their infants. I hope to live in a world where one day no family ever has to fear of losing their baby. I want to honor Liam’s memory, and I hope I am making him proud.
For more information and resources on safe sleep, please visit the PA Safe Sleep website.