Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Tribute: London's Story

Hello friends,
Below we have a post from our guest blogger, Tonya. Please read and share her story with others. 

Katey and Sarah

A tribute to London Rose....

Most of you do not know me and do not know my story. Katey and I know each other through her Mother-in-law. Katey wrote me a few weeks back asking me to write something for her blog. I knew why God had her contact me to share my story, to help educate and make aware everyone that I can, but I had no idea how therapeutic it would be for me at this time.  It has been three years since my story began and the first two seemed a lot easier than I thought they would be. This year has been surprisingly difficult. I have struggled the last few weeks telling people about my story and that is very unusual for me.  I am a very open person as everyone who knows me is well aware. 

My name is Tonya Hebert. I am now the mother of three beautiful children (our plan was to only have two; God had other ideas in mind!). Jayden is our first son who is now 5, Cole is our second son who is 15 months and London Rose who would have been 4 years old in August, is my "Angel Baby".

London Rose Hebert was born August 04, 2008 to my husband Nathan and I. We had our son two years before and when we found out we were having a girl our lives seemed complete. She was born, and was beautiful and healthy! She was a good baby, a lot fussier than Jayden had been and very much a momma's girl, but still a good baby! On April 22nd, 2009, we woke up to a normal day. We had a normal morning and early afternoon. The kids played, ate and napped as usual. I had to work that afternoon and Nate was already at work for the day. I got the kids ready and off to daycare we went. I left the kids at daycare with their normal providers who loved and cared for them very much. I had been at work for a meeting and then off to the unit to get my assignment for the evening. I was a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse at the time. The secretary told me I had a phone call during report and for some reason I knew it was a message I would never forget. The supervisor patched through one of the daycare workers. She was frantic on the other end of the phone. "Tonya, London is not breathing, we called 911 and they are on their way" she said. "Oh my god, did you start CPR?" "Yes, but they are on their way" she said again. "Ok I'm coming!"

This is a phone call I think every mom thinks of getting on some level. We never want it, but it is there in the back of our minds. I never thought being a NICU nurse that this call would come to me. Not sure why my profession had anything to do with it, I guess I just thought I was trained on how to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, how could it happen to one of my children?

At the hospital, the doctors did everything they possibly could to save London. I knew in my heart though, while I stood there watching them work on her, that she was already in Heaven with our Lord. As much as it hurts to not have her here I know in my heart I would not have her any other place. I feel that she is in the safest place and has love around her always. Who better than God to hold you always!

We soon got all the details of what happened that afternoon. I have never and will never blame anyone for London's passing, but it is important that the education is out there. Some things were technically done wrong that day by the standards of Back to Sleep from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the SIDS Foundations. Many studies have been done throughout the years on how to prevent SIDS and I think that it is important that EVERYONE is educated and aware of the findings and recommendations. I know, that as infants, we all sleep on our stomachs and somehow survived. However, the studies have shown a 50% decrease in the SIDS rate since babies have been being placed on their backs to sleep.

Let’s start at the beginning. It's amazing to me the mothers that I still encounter every day, as a Labor and Delivery nurse that have never heard of SIDS.

SIDS IS: the leading cause of death in infants from one month to one year of age, with most deaths occurring between two and four months of age; A sudden and silent medical disorder that can happen to a seemingly healthy infant; A death is often associated with sleep and with little or no signs of suffering; Determined only after an autopsy, an examination of the death scene, and a review of the infant's and family's clinical histories that provide no other cause of death; and A diagnosis of exclusion, in which the cause of death can be determined only after ruling out other causes.
SIDS is NOT: Entirely preventable, but the risk can be reduced; the same as suffocation; Caused by vomiting and 'or chocking; Caused by the diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT, Tdap) vaccine or by other immunizations; Contagious; The result of child abuse or neglect; and/or the cause of every unexpected infant death.
Some current research findings and theories about SIDS are: Brain Abnormalities, Genetic Mutations and Polymorphisms and the Triple-Risk Model. Brain abnormalities seem to be mounting evidence in infants that have passed from SIDS. They are found in the network of neurons that use serotonin as a neurotransmitter and that control breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and waking during sleep. The scientists feel that other events must occur for an infant to pass from SIDS and that is where the Triple-Risk Model comes in to play.

The Triple-Risk Model says that three things must occur for death to happen. 

  • Vulnerable infant: An underlying defect or brain abnormality makes the baby vulnerable. 
  • Critical Developmental Period:During the infants first six months of life, rapid growth phases and changes in homeostatic controls occur. These changes may be evident (e.g., sleeping and waking patterns), or they may be subtle (e.g., variations in breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature). Some of these changes may temporarily or periodically destabilize the infant's internal systems. 
  • Outside stressors: Most babies encounter and can survive environmental stressors, such as Second hand tobacco smoke, overheating, a stomach sleep position or an upper respiratory infection. However, an already-vulnerable infant may not be able to overcome them. Although these stressors are not believed to single-handedly cause infant death, they may tip the balance against a vulnerable infant's chances of survival.
SIDS Risk Reduction Recommendations: Always place your baby on his/her back to sleep for naps and at night; Place the baby to sleep on a firm sleep surface, such as on safety-approved* crib mattress, covered by fitted sheet; Keep soft objects, toys and loose bedding out of baby's sleep area; Do not allow smoking around the baby; Keep the baby's sleep area close to but separate from where you and others sleep; Think about using a clean, dry pacifier when placing the baby down to sleep; Do not let the baby overheat during sleep; Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS**; Reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on the baby's head by giving him/her supervised tummy time while he/she is awake.
One particular fact that weighs heavy on my mind and that I try to stress to all that I teach is: despite Back to Sleep and other SIDS awareness campaigns, many child care providers (including grandparents, great grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins) still place infants on their stomachs to sleep. This is particularly troubling because it has been found that an infant "A 1999 study found that if an infant who was usually placed to sleep on his/her back was then placed to sleep on his/her stomach or side, his/her SIDS risk was seven to eight times greater than that of an infant always placed to sleep on his/her stomach or side." Having said this, it doesn't mean that you should place your baby to sleep on his/her stomach or side, you should always stress to ANYONE watching your child that back laying is how my baby sleeps and this is how you should ALWAYS lay my baby down to sleep. Despite the fact that London was eight months old and that she could turn herself over, she was laid on her stomach to sleep that day, which was something I never did. As I said before, I will never blame anyone for London's passing, but I feel that her lying on her stomach that day definitely helped to cause her death.

I believe, as do the studies show at this time, that there was something else wrong with London that we were unable to see. But, I feel that the more education and awareness we get out there, the more babies lives we will save. I feel very strongly in supporting the cause of SIDS and raising funds to help the organizations that support education, awareness and research for SIDS. This has been the most devastating thing to happen in my life and my family’s life and I never want to see this happen to anyone else again. Please pass this on to as many people as you know so that the word gets out there.
I have gotten all my knowledge from the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and human Development. You can visit to find any of the booklets that I got information from.
Some other useful and informative sites are:
National Sudden and Unexpected Infant/Child Death and Pregnancy Loss Resource Center:;
First Candle/SIDS Alliance:
CJ Foundation for SIDS:
American SIDS Institute:
The Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs:
American Academy of Pediatrics:
*U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: Crib Safety Tips
Remembering Our Babies October 15th: SIDS Families:
Drugs during pregnancy information:
** You can visit The First Candle web site to see what products have been SIDS tested (not necessarily approved).

As well, you can follow our personal website,, to see and participate in any upcoming events to help support and fund First Candle!

She has blue barrettes in her beautiful hair

Thank you for reading my story and letting me tell you about my beautiful "Angel Baby" London Rose Hebert!

If you have any questions or concerns please post your comment below or send an email to
God Bless!!!
Tonya Hebert

"As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things." ~ Ecclesiastes 11:5



  1. my heart breaks reading this. Thoughts and prayers to your family.

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  3. Tears are running down my face, the thought of going through that pains me for you. Thank you so much for sharing, and having the strength to tell your story.

  4. What a beautiful Tribute to London as we approach the 3rd year Anniversary of her passing.
    Thank you Katey and her family for sharing London's story.
    Tonya and Nathan have devoted a lot of time and effort to support research for the cause of SIDS.
    How rewarding to them if their words can spare families the pain ours has known.
    I too will never forget that phone call that sent a dagger to my heart that aches every day, but I believe there is a reason for everything and pray something good will come from this tragedy.
    Hold dear the loved ones with you today and pray for those who have left us.

    1. Sue - that tragic day will never leave my mind. Tonya and Nathan have such strength. London will never be forgotton - her precious life goes on in memory and the work everyone is doing with First Candle. She is looking down on all of you with her beautiful smile! XO

  5. Sue, Thank you for your wise words!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can't imagine how heartbreaking this must have been for you. Being a mother of two young children I've done my fair share of research on a number of topics and I think this is one of those areas where you need to follow your instincts.

    I know a number of people - I myself am one of them - who were scared to tell people they put their babies to sleep on their tummies because they would received criticism, accusations that they were endangering their children's lives. Both of my children were tummy-sleepers; they wouldn't sleep otherwise. It made me nervous at first, but when I realized how much better they slept I got over it. It also made me feel better to realize that if they spit up at night, they wouldn't choke like they might if they were on their backs. We co-slept on and off for the first few months before putting them in their own cribs, which is another controversy in and of itself (although apparently reduces the risk of SIDS [] - go figure!).

    There have been endless studies on SIDS, as you well know, and I've also read that it's very likely that many babies who die from SIDS have an inner ear problem that contributed. Here is a very interesting article:

    I think no matter what choices we make as parents, when something like this happens, we wonder "what if" or "if only." Certainly, if something had happened to one of my children I would have thought "if only I had put them to sleep on their backs!" Fortunately they were fine, and I continue to make similar [informed] decisions in other areas (vaccines, nutrition, education, etc.).

  7. Everytime I think of London I cry, not for her but for her Mommy and Daddy that miss her so dearly. Reading this makes me cry because of the heartache that has been endured but also the wisdom and strength in Tonya's story!!! God Bless all of you as April 22nd approaches!! Kerri xx

  8. Thank you all again for all the kind words ,Love and Support you have shown us over the last 3 years. We could not have gotten through without the Lord and our families by our side. All I ask is that we continue to share the education that we have learned. I know that we do not know what causes SIDS at this time, but we do know of ways to help prevent it. If we were to only save one infants life and spare one family from pain that would be great, but to save many would be Amazing! Hopefully soon we can find a cause and a cure! Love you all, Tonya and Family