Tragic Noah died after becoming wedged between furniture in his nursery – his brave mother Fiona Ivey spoke to photo-features to raise awareness of her campaign to save other lives.
She wants to see parents warned of the dangers and the middle cot level which Noah was sleeping on when he died, banned.
Story featured in Take A Break Magazine
As told by Fiona Ivey, 34, Plymouth Devon.
I was running his bath when eight-month-old Noah pulled himself up for the first time.
‘Did you see that?’ I beamed with pride to my husband Neal.
But Neal was already cheering. ‘Clever boy!’ he cried.
We both clapped and Noah squealed, his big hazel eyes dancing with delight.
‘Best lower his cot now,’ I said.
But with the round of bath time, nappy changing and feeds, not to mention cooking dinner and getting ready for work the next day, the task was forgotten.
‘Goodnight, little man.’ I whispered as I checked on him before creeping off for an early night at 9.30pm. Tomorrow was my second shift back at my job as a support worker since finishing maternity leave and I wanted to get as much sleep as possible.
Only in the night I woke up with painful acid reflux.
‘Neal,’ I said, shaking him gently.
‘Urgh…’ he mumbled, deep in sleep. ‘Is it Noah? Does he need a feed?’
We’d already agreed he’d do the night feed tonight with me working in the morning.
‘No it’s me. I don’t feel well.’
Neal was tired and annoyed at being woken. Noah was a light sleeper so sleep was precious. We started bickering.
‘Forget it!’ I said, snatching a blanket and heading for the settee.
I left the baby monitor on its stand next to the bed.
Neil woke to feed him at one, and I expected to hear his familiar wail at 5.30am. But when my alarm shrilled at 6.30am and I put the shower on, there was still no sign of Noah stirring so I crept in to check on him.
But feeling around his cot in the darkness, terror hit. He wasn’t there.
Could he be with Neal? I wondered. But we never brought him into our bed…
It sounds crazy, but my first thought was that he’d been taken.
‘He’s gone, he’s gone!’ I screamed.
I could hear Neal’s footsteps thundering down the hallway.
As he ran into the room I flicked on the light. It was then that I spotted his little sleepsuit.
He was dangling between the change station and the cot. He must have fallen out. Assuming it had only just happened, I went to lift him. But Noah’s tiny body was floppy, his bonny face ashen.
Please God, no, I whispered. But it was too late. I knew he was gone.
The life seemed to drain out me too as I lay him down on the sofa bed and hysterically ran to my friend who lived in the flat upstairs while Neal dialled 999.
As we came back into the flat I could hear him performing CPR on Noah but I was too terrified to look. Deep down, I knew it was hopeless. It was too late, my beautiful baby boy was gone.
Suddenly, the flat was filled with strangers, paramedics and police.
‘I’m so sorry,’ an officer said gently. ‘But there’s nothing more anyone can do.’
No, no, no. The room swirled around me. I couldn’t take it all in.
‘We’ll give you some time with your son,’ they said gently. ‘Time to say goodbye.’
But I didn’t want to say goodbye. I wanted to hold him in my arms and give him his morning feed and cuddle.
‘His giraffe,’ I said. ‘He needs his giraffe.’ It was his favourite. He slept with it every night.
I wanted to go back into Noah’s room to get it but an officer blocked my way. It was a crime scene now. They were taking video footage, evidence. I felt like a criminal. Maybe I was.
We followed the ambulance to our local hospital, three miles away. The police explained that as Noah’s death was as yet unexplained, there would need to be an investigation.
I nodded, numb. Of course.
Family and friends came to say their goodbyes, give their condolences. But I couldn’t take it all in. I couldn’t believe that I was saying goodbye to my son just months after I’d welcomed him into the world. It seemed so unfair.
Even when the chaplain came to give Noah a blessing I couldn’t believe we wouldn’t be christening him in the summer now.
Leaving him at the hospital was the hardest thing. Back home, the house felt empty, too quiet. Now I longed to be woken in the night by his hungry wails. Instead, I lay awake tears running down my face.
I was certain that I was going to be arrested. As far as I was concerned this was all my fault. I hadn’t lowered the cot and I’d gone to the lounge without the monitor.
If only I’d stayed in my own bed, I was certain I would have heard Noah stirring and got up.
‘You’ve got to stop doing this to yourself,’ Neal begged. ‘It was no one’s fault. It was a tragic accident.’
‘I don’t know why you didn’t hear he monitor either,’ I said. I couldn’t accept that no one was to blame. I needed to blame someone.
Desperate to block out the pain I started drinking and taking risks, going out late at night, hoping something bad would happen to me to punish me for what had happened to Noah.
Neal was the strong one. ‘Please stop this, love,’ he begged. ‘I hate to see you doing this to yourself. We’ve lost Noah, I couldn’t bear to lose you too.’
Two weeks after Noah’s death an autopsy showed he had died from positional asphixiation. No matter how much I wanted them to, the police didn’t blame me. But I still did.
We held his funeral the day before my 29th birthday. Noah was cremated in his dungarees with his giraffe toy and his favourite fishy book.
The pain was like nothing I’d ever felt. No mother should have to xxx their child.
I hoped that saying goodbye to Noah properly would help give me some sort of closure but the next day, my birthday, my body still ached for my boy.
‘Come on, let’s just go somewhere,’ Neal said. ‘Let’s just get away for a few days.’
I was reluctant but Neal was right. It was nice, just the two of us, getting away from it all. I felt some of the burden lift.
Only problem was, coming back home to that empty flat. Every morning I passed Noah’s room on the way to the bathroom I would have given anything to be able to kiss him good morning.
As the weeks passed, I came to see that another baby would be the only thing that could ever help me to move forward.
‘I need to be a mum again,’ I told Neal.
He agreed to try and a few months later, I found out I was expecting. I was nervous, but excited.
Our perfect little boy, Roan was born the following February.
‘Doesn’t he look like his big brother?’ Neal said.
I couldn’t see it myself. Maybe it was because after punishing myself for so long I needed to look forward, not back. I would never forget Noah but it was time to move on. To be happy.
Roan is now three and having him has finally brought me peace. It’s every mother’s worst nightmare to check on your baby and find them gone. We planned to move the cot to the lower setting but we never got that chance. For months, I tortured myself with the fact my baby would not have died had I have done those things. I wanted to be punished because I felt so guilty but nobody could punish me more than I have punished myself.
Parents aren’t aware of the dangers of positioning nursery furniture too close together. Whenever you see the nursery set out in shops and brochures it’s all close together, it looks lovely but that can be dangerous, Had Noah had just fallen from his cot he would have been bruised but OK, but instead he got caught in between his cot and his changing station and died.
I also want the middle cot level, which Noah was sleeping on when he died, to be banned. Had there not been a middle level he would have been on the bottom and this would never have happened.
If telling our story can help save just one baby’s life, then our Noah won’t have died in vain.
Fiona has started a petition. If you would like to sign it please visit (Fiona is in the process of setting up a petition to call for a change in policy re the cot levels and position of furniture) Read more here https://www.facebook.com/Noahs-story-awareness-of-hidden-dangers-568518949973241/