Lindsay Paulsen wasn’t worried when she spotted the missed call from her son Declan’s daycare centre.
The American mum had only just arrived at work so she assumed that the 11-month-old had simply developed a runny nose.
“He was being transported by ambulance to the hospital and I needed to get there.
“I’m trying to talk myself down saying that it’s probably nothing and he’s OK.
“Because at this point in my life, bad things like this couldn’t happen to me.”
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‘HE KNEW HIS TIME WITH US WOULDN’T BE LONG’
Lindsay had felt like her life was finally on the right track when she and her new partner, Cody, welcomed baby Declan into the world.
She said she didn’t truly know what love was until she saw Cody holding their newborn baby boy in his arms.
A short time after Declan was born, Cody and Lindsay got married, officially uniting together their blended family.
“Our daughters walked down the aisle pulling a radio flyer wagon with Declan hanging out in the back,” Lindsay said.
“He was an easy baby. Declan slept for long stretches at night, smiled and cooed constantly and anyone that met him fell in love with him.
“Looking back at my time with him, I often wonder if the reason he was so wonderful was because in some way he knew his time with us wouldn’t be long.”
‘I FELT SOMETHING WAS OFF’
A few months after the wedding, Lindsay was surprised to discover she was pregnant again.
The pregnancy wasn’t planned and Lindsay wasn’t sure how she felt about it.
She was busy caring for baby Declan and found it extremely hard to deal with the side effects of pregnancy at the same time.
“I don’t know if it was my mother’s intuition but during my pregnancy I felt something was off,” she said.
“I had a hard time bonding with the baby growing in my belly because I had a feeling one of my children wasn’t going to make it.
“I just didn’t imagine it would be my son.”
‘SOMEONE WAS WAITING FOR ME’
But one morning just before Lindsay was due to start her maternity leave, she received the call from Declan’s daycare centre that changed everything.
Declan had gone down for a nap and hadn’t woken up again
She raced to their local hospital, unsure what had happened, praying her baby boy was OK.
“When I ran inside the doors into the ER and someone was waiting for me, I knew it wasn’t good,” she said.
“I saw my husband kneeling on the floor outside the room door, dirty from work and his face buried in his hands.
“I went behind the curtain and saw my son looking so tiny on the hospital bed in just his nappy, and a dozen doctors and nurses around him trying to start his heart.”
‘COME ON BUDDY, COME ON’
Lindsay has no idea how long they stood outside Declan’s hospital room waiting for the doctors.
Cody paced the hallway, yelling “Come on buddy, come on” as more hospital staff poured into the room.
“I have never felt more helpless and scared in my entire life than in those moments,” she said.
“Cody finally spoke up and said, ‘Just f**king tell us!’ ‘I’m sorry, we did everything we could,’ was all the doctor could say, like some line from a movie.
“A movie about someone else’s life because my son wasn’t dead, he couldn’t be!
“We had just taken his 11-month milestone photo the day before.
“I already scheduled his first birthday party for a few weeks from now. The decorations and his party outfit were at home in his room.”
‘THAT WOULD BE THE LAST TIME I SAW HIS BODY’
The shock and grief about what had happened didn’t hit Lindsay until doctors wrapped Declan in a sheet and placed him in her arms.
She realised straightaway that her baby son was gone – the sparkle in his eyes was missing.
“His smell was gone, too; the smell that all mothers know, the smell of their child,” Lindsay said.
“Then he let out his last breath in my arms … and all the tears I had been forcing down started falling.
“I cried all over my boy, tears falling onto his skin. I had never seen anyone die before and now I was sitting there trying to memorise every inch of his face, the weight of him in my arms.
“That would be the last time I saw his body.”
To read more about Lindsay’s story, follow her on Instagram
This story first appeared on Kidspot.com.au and has been republished with permission
Originally published as Mum’s horror over baby’s daycare death