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The Day My Baby Died
It was the worst phone call of my life. "Kyra, Hayes isn't breathing!" I could not believe what I was hearing. All the way to the hospital I screamed, "My baby can't die, my baby can't die."

Seeing him at the hospital, tubes everywhere and no sign of life is a memory that will live with me forever. I stood next to him, rubbing his head, holding his hand, coaxing him to come back to us. After about 25 minutes of hard work, the doctors pronounced him dead. I was allowed to hold him one last time. He was so heavy, so lifeless. I wanted him to open his eyes and look at me like nothing I had ever wanted before. It would not happen. He was gone forever.

Hayes was perfectly healthy. The reason given for his death was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). I had heard of it. I even received a brochure in one of our pre-natal classes. But no one talked about it. There was not much of an emphasis on it at all. I suppose it was one of those things that you think will not happen to you.

But here I am without my beautiful son. We were just getting to know each other. I understood his laughs and his cries. He gave me so much life. Now, when people ask me if I have children, I don't know how to answer. Can I still be considered a parent if my child is dead? How do I go on? How do I find peace, much less happiness in our lives again? I can't stand the fact that I will not see my child again, that I will not see him grow up, play with his friends or hear him laugh.

Though we will never have our son back, we felt we had a mission to educate others about SIDS and to aid in research so that one day no parent will be faced with losing their child to this terrifying cause.

It is tragic for such a strong source of light to dim so quickly. And yet, we must remember that Hayes lit a light within us all that will continue to shine. His life will not leave us, though his presence has. We will hold him close to us and treasure all that he gave, not just as memories, but as the life altering lessons that they were.

The Hayes Foundation will help guide our mission, and through our efforts help others fulfill their dreams of watching their children grow up.

Oliver "HAYES" Hitzeman
January 23, 2002 - June 11, 2002

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On January 23, 2002, Kyra Was Given a Gift
Oliver "Hayes" Hitzeman entered their lives and promised to change them forever. Hayes did not give of himself easily; in fact, from before he took his first breath he taught his parents that life would be lived on his terms; that for all their planning on how he was to enter the world, Hayes taught them that they could not control nature. Hayes quickly let them know that he was to be their teacher; that was his gift.

And on that same day, Hayes received a gift from his parents; their love and a part of their souls. They gave him safety and comfort, sustenance for both mind and body, and a nurturing that came from a place within themselves that was deeper than they had ever experienced, deeper than they thought possible.

And the rest of us watched, and listened, and learned, as this beautiful little boy unfolded his personality and took his place in the world.

Hayes liked to laugh; he was a happy boy. He loved bath time and had long conversations with his friend Big Bird in the mornings. He quieted on long walks with Kyra and relaxed in the calm of lying on the back deck. He loved the trees and being outside.

Upon waking, when Kyra picked him up, he would meet their eyes and smile. He knew that he was loved and that was enough to bring him ultimate joy. Through Hayes, Kyra experienced a deeper and truer love than they had ever felt before. For as much as one can love their parents, their siblings or their spouse, the love a parent has for their child stands apart.

Hayes taught his parents to smile wider, to sing louder and to value life to its fullest. He taught them to see that life's possibility was endless and how to pay attention to the details. He was the bond that brought Kyra's family together as one.

Hayes brought a focus to Kyra and that touched all aspects of their lives; at home, at work and with their friends. He showed them what was important and what was trivial. He made them better people.

It is tragic for such a strong source of light to dim so quickly. And yet, we must remember that Hayes lit a light within us all that will continue to shine. His life will not leave us, though his presence has. We will hold him close to us and treasure all that he gave, not just as memories, but as the life altering lessons that they were.

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Following these guidelines may help reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • Place your baby on the back to sleep at night and naptime
  • Use a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib
  • Eliminate fluffy, loose bedding from your baby's sleep area
  • Keep your baby's face clear of coverings
  • Be careful not to overheat your baby
  • Breastfeed if possible
  • Don't allow anyone to smoke around your baby
  • Consider offering your baby a pacifier at naptime and bed time for the first year (but not for the first month for breastfed babies)
  • Do not allow your baby to sleep in an adult bed
  • Consider using a fan in the baby’s room for air circulation
  • Tell anyone that may keep your baby about This Side UP
Hayes Hitzeman Foundation Supporting Research and Awareness of SIDS