My name is Renee and this is the story of our perfect little boy Jax. It’s a story I wish I didn’t have. It’s a story I wish ended differently. It’s a story that I feel compelled to share in the hope that others may find some comfort, knowing they are not alone. It’s a story I need to share so that more people will know him and love him and remember him. Our perfect little boy Jax.
In 2012, my partner Shannon and I decided we wanted to start a family. I was 35 years old at the time and we quickly realised that falling pregnant was going to be slightly more difficult than we had hoped. After some time, without having any success, we sought help through an IVF clinic. Full of hope we eagerly began our first cycle. Three embryos, zero pregnancies. We were so upset. We had been so confident the IVF would work. It seemed our dream of becoming parents was getting further and further away. Disillusioned with the IVF process, we decided not to pursue it any further and hoped that we would fall naturally.
Fast forward five months and our prayers were finally answered. It was a miracle. I was pregnant. Shannon and I were going to have a baby!!
Nine months went by and on the 19th July 2013 our little miracle baby was born. Jax James Trounce. He was completely perfect in every way. My lifetime dream was finally here, in my arms. I was holding him. He was real, he was healthy, he was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined and he was all ours.
Life was good. Jax was an absolutely perfect chid. He was so busy and independent. He took after his mummy and was a super-clean and tidy little boy. He liked everything to be organised just right! It became part of his daily routine. He would line his toys up perfectly in a row and all of his cars and trucks had to be revered in to their correct place every time. It was a must! I’m not sure if it was my O.C.D or because he loved watching daddy reversing the car into the garage at home. He definitely associated cars with Shannon. He no longer called him daddy, he was now “Daddycar”. Jax was an absolute joy to be around. My mum and sister would tell me my next child would have to be the naughty one as Jax was just too perfect. I waited and waited for those “terrible two’s” to kick in, but they never came. He remained my placid, well-behaved, gentle little boy.
In the morning he would get up and have his breakfast with his “Daddycar”. Once Shannon left to work Jax would make his way to the bedroom to wake me up declaring “Daddycar gone to work, he be back doon” and then close my bedroom door quietly so that I could sleep in. One memory that always makes me laugh is of this one morning, when I had slept in a little too long, I woke to hear him struggling as he was dragging a 3 litre milk down the hallway saying to himself “bery heaby, bery heaby”. Jax’s subtle way of telling me to get up for breakfast. There are countless beautiful memories of our life with our perfect little boy. Too many to count, and yet never enough.
Our happy little bubble all soon came to an end one morning in March 2016 on a date we choose not to remember. Our lives, and the lives of our family and friends, were shattered into pieces. Jax, our miracle, beautiful boy had passed away without any warning. He was nearly 3 years old. He went to sleep and he did not wake up.
The suffering from that day was unbearable. At the time, we did not know how or why this had happened. Endless nights of tears, we were unable to sleep. We replayed that morning over and over and still could not gain any clarity as to what had happened. The devastation of losing Jax destroyed us. There was no escape from the pain. We were lost, confused, bitterly angry and utterly heart-broken.
For seven months we waited. No explanation. No reason. Nothing to tell us why one day we had a perfectly healthy, happy little boy and the next day he was gone. After 7 months a preliminary autopsy report arrived. Finally, perhaps we would have some answers? But no, the autopsy provided us with only more sadness and frustration. Investigations so far showing “Natural cause of death”. Natural? What was natural about this? What is natural about two loving parents losing their only son, a small child. How could they say this was natural? We were living in this nightmare, constantly searching for answers. Where did it all go wrong? What did we miss? He was our only child. Our darling boy who we lived and breathed for, who we would have done anything in the world for. We did everything we knew how to give him a healthy, loving, caring life…and then one night he goes to sleep and never wakes up?? It didn’t make sense. Nothing made sense anymore.
We needed answers.
A few months went by and soon it would be Christmas. I couldn’t bear the thought of Christmas without him. Happy families sharing their love and joy with their children and we have nothing. Nothing to be joyous about, nothing to be thankful for, living every day in this living hell. We decided to go away on a cruise around South East Asia hoping to escape anything to do with Christmas. Hopefully the countries we visited didn’t celebrate Christmas the same way and we could just avoid the whole festive season. Just 4 days before we left the final autopsy report arrived. Yes, the same answer has been confirmed.
Our baby Jax had passed of “Natural Causes of Death”.
We went on our “holiday” if that’s what you could call it. Trying to pretend we could be happy, failing epically. But there was one small miracle that came from that holiday. I returned to discover I was pregnant again. Since losing Jax, I had been pregnant two other times., both ending in miscarriage. I was scared about this pregnancy. My only child was taken from me, I’d suffered two miscarriages already. Why would this end any differently?
This same week we also received a letter from Dr Graham Jay from the Gold Coast Hospital asking if we would like to discuss the autopsy report further. We were so appreciative of this as this was the moment that we finally received some answers. We learned after thorough medical examination, autopsy and toxicology, the cause of his death was deemed unexplained and fit into a category called Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC). Most people have heard of SIDS in babies, but Jax was 4 months shy of turning 3, he was past the age that this would be classed as SIDS.
In one way, this did ease our minds a small amount knowing that we hadn’t failed him as parents, but then in another way it created another black hole for our thoughts to travel down. Why us? Why our only child? How does this happen?
As time went on, Shannon and I battled through our grief together, struggling day in and day out. We found that counselling was not the answer for us. Eventually, we decided to seek further help from our doctor. The doctor prescribed medication to help us through. This did not sit well with Shannon so instead he started to run and then joined a gym. This really did help. Shannon slowly came alive again.
For me, I had returned to work casually a month after Jax passed. I’m not sure how I even thought about work at the time, but it actually did help. Some days were harder than others, especially when clients would arrive at the clinic with their newborn babies or toddlers. This was actually one of my hardest struggles after Jax passed. I would avoid all friends that had children around Jax’s age and even still to this day I won’t attend birthday parties. It only breaks my heart.
So now that brings us to where we are now. What keeps us sane during our waves of grief? Our family and friends. Without all their support each day it would be impossible. In addition to the ongoing support from family and friends I also came across a parent-run SUDC support group on Facebook. This is where we all connect as parents and share our stories and support each other. This then lead me to the SUDC Foundation, which is the only charity globally that is dedicated solely to SUDC. It is an international charity that funds research into SUDC with a hope that one day this will be something that can be predicted through genetic testing and therefore prevented. The SUDC Foundation also offers family support and connects you with other parents who have suffered this grieving journey.
We are now nearly two years on in this journey. It’s not a journey we ever asked for and I resent that we have been given this path to walk. But I am proud of how far we have come together as a couple and a family.
Shannon and I welcomed our beautiful rainbow baby Conor Jax Trounce into the world in September 2017. A beautiful baby brother for Jax. The pregnancy was incredibly difficult and there were many times we thought we would lose him too, but it seems life finally decided to let us have a tiny piece of happiness again with our second beautiful son. I can now see a little ray of sunshine through all the grey and I hope that history will not repeat.