It was November 17, 2008, when I received the phone call at work that my baby was in the hospital and I needed to come to the emergency room. I asked the nurse on the phone if she was breathing and she would not answer. I already knew at that moment that she was gone. To be honest, I felt in my spirit that something wasn’t right before I got the phone call. My coworkers went with me to the hospital to make sure I got there safely. When I met my husband at the hospital, the doctor told me that she was connected to a breathing machine and asked me if I wanted to see her. She looked like she was sleeping. Everything felt like a dream. They said the reason for her death was SIDS.

Alexandria De’Anna Rouse was born August 1, 2008. She was a healthy and happy baby. Losing her the way I did was one of my worst fears. After her passing, my life went downhill drastically. I was filled with so much sorrow, hate, and anger. I blamed everyone for what happened. I blamed myself, my husband, the doctors,…everybody. I did not want to talk about it at all and 9 years and 3 kids later (one boy and two girls), I still don’t want to talk about it. I was struggling at work because I felt like if I had been at home with the baby instead of at work then it could have been prevented. I stopped going to my home church because it would bring back vivid memories from her funeral. I tried to go back, but I would have anxiety attacks. I do not like when people ask “how many kids do you have?” or “is this your first?” I mean…how am I suppose to answer that. I also received a lot of heartless comments like “you will have another one”. Well, she’s not replaceable.

I went to one 30 minute counseling session after her death, but I was young and I felt like it was worthless. I just coped by staying busy. I went to the gym a lot. Thankfully, I had plenty of prayer warriors on my side to help me and my family get through. I tried to focus on the good times I spent with her. I have a recording on my voicemail of her cooing that I would listen to regularly. My friends and family were there for support but they were grieving as well. I joined support groups like First Candle for healing because they are platforms for parents to share relatable experiences and find relief from each other’s stories. My husband and I wanted to do something to give back to organizations that help fund research for SIDS and help grieving families so we opened SoyNatural Creations, LLC and a portion of our proceeds are donated to organizations that provide support for grieving families. Each year on her birthday we light a candle in remembrance of her and make a donation in her memory.

I find myself talking about her a lot recently because my kids are always talking about her. When I took my son to the cemetery on her birthday he wanted to talk to her. This is what he said; “Hi Alexandria, this is your brother. I hope you are having a good day in heaven today. I know I never met you, but I will one day. We love you!” When someone asks him how many sisters he has, he says he has three: 2 on Earth and 1 in Heaven! My kids are so sweet and having them has helped me view her death differently. We miss our baby, but we know she is in a better place.

– The Rouse Family

We offer a special thank you to the Rouse Family for sharing their story. To make a tax-deductible gift to First Candle’s #GivingFirst campaign, please click here