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Remembering Baby Fox

One month ago today, a baby named Fox Elijah King was born to an awesome & radical couple, my friends April & Morgan.  April had a normal, healthy pregnancy, prioritizing an already-stretched budget to eat whole foods; she labored & delivered Fox naturally even though her birth was hard & fast.  He was lovingly welcomed, breastfed & kept intact.  He had a safe sleeping spot near his mama & was held constantly; embraced with an allegiance that can only come from a mother who was totally thrilled with his existence, a woman who studied motherhood to learn the absolute best way to bring a human into the world.  (View photos here.)  

April found information about freebirthing & motherhood while studying cultural anthropology & women’s studies, & as her friend, I was SO happy to be able to send articles about breastfeeding & keeping babies whole to someone who was really interested, someone who I knew would make excellent choices, an activist-friend turned activist-mother.  Someone who would take my son’s old cloth diapers & use them; someone who researched the best carrier to buy.  Someone who was going to be an amazing mother.

I’m always excited whenever anyone is pregnant, but I was so affected by April’s situation because it was similar to mine.  We are both youngish, low-income, unmarried mothers.  We are both also feminists & activists, believers of equality & social justice, people who get thrilled by attending protests.  For people in our realm of folks, in our world, unexpected pregnancies can be alienating.  It can be alienating from our friends, because having a child is an enormous responsibility that many of them likely can’t imagine being ready for at this juncture, & it can be alienating from our families as they can fail to know how to be supportive of a pregnancy that they aren’t supposed to be happy for.  April wrote about that lack of real, genuine, enthusiastic support here.   

I felt so proud of April because I know how challenging it is to not have the emotional guidance to help make the best decisions or financial assistance to help afford the highest-quality gear, & I know what it’s like to find all of these answers on your own, without wisdom from family or a close unit of friends.  Single, low-income mothers are some of the least likely to breastfeed but April chose to & did it with complete commitment.  Coming from this position, the statistics do not favor you to make consistently solid choices, but April did & her motherhood shined throughout her pregnancy & after Fox’s birth. 

Yet one week after Fox was born, he simply, devastatingly, didn’t wake up from his sleep.  They were all asleep & when they woke up, he was gone.  I found out online through a statement from April, in the evening 7 days after I had been celebrating his birth, & I immediately shut down my computer, in complete denial, unable to grasp what I had just read.  I kept hoping it wasn’t real, that I had misread it, but I was too scared to check.  How could this be real?  How could a healthy baby, born 8lbs 4oz on his due date, just not wake up from his sleep?  How could this be happening to April & Morgan, my friends who had worked so hard to do this right? 

I also had no words.  Language was suddenly failing me now, so completely.  There was nothing I could say that would properly express how totally horrified I was to read this news, how deeply saddened I was for their loss, & how utterly confused I was that this was happening to them.  I just couldn’t understand how this was now their reality.  As a mother, I honestly cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a child; my mind just hits a wall, like the heartache would be too much & it won’t let me imagine any further.  Since April & I live about 4 hours apart, I felt helpless & desperate to try & fix this situation, which is so far from fixable.  There was no conclusion from the medical examiner; there was no reason for this.   

I never met Fox.  I was going to visit them before Christmas to see him & deliver more baby things, but instead I was going to his funeral.  I am thankful I was able to be there; it was an excruciating, heartbreaking, soul-shattering, but absolutely beautiful tribute to him, as well as a testament to April & Morgan’s parenting.  Their grief was palpable.  He was a lucky baby, for that week.  He got more love & comfort & care than some babies get their entire childhood.   

I was really struck by the crowd that came to remember baby Fox.  My heart was worried because my impression was that there was a lack of support & I can imagine how I would feel if people who had not embraced my pregnancy also failed to turn out in solidarity during such devestation.  But they were there, an onslaught of tattooed, bike-riding, dreadlocked love.  The men cried, the women cried.  One friend wrote a song that he sang in memory of Fox.  Morgan’s mom wrote a poem that easily moved everyone to tears, & Morgan sang this song by Elliott Smith, a song that April had sung to Fox after his birth.

The moment I saw the tiny casket, it occurred to me that a tiny casket is the most wrong thing in the world.  It doesn’t make any sense; it seems totally unjust.  I had never had anyone in my life experience a loss like this, so I didn’t know how intensely it would strike me.  But that was easily the saddest thing I have ever seen.  We all helped bury Fox.  After his casket was placed in the ground, Morgan shoveled in some earth, April was on her knees pouring the dirt in, & friends & family took turns adding handfuls.  It felt good to be a part of it, but it also felt too final, too complete, & so wrong that it was ending like this.  I just kept thinking “This is so dumb.  This is so dumb.  This wasn’t supposed to happen.”  It felt like such a glitch in the system, something that time should reverse for, to make it right again.

So many of the decisions we make in the natural parenting community are made because we know they have been proven to be better & safer for children.  Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDs, as does safe cosleeping (either sleeping near or bedsharing), not smoking, & keeping babies whole.  These decisions are made with the health of our children in mind, & April made those same decisions.  When I researched baby loss, I read that one of a few things not to say is “At least you can have more children,” because no child will ever replace the child who died.  Fox is real, his passing is real, his existance is real.  But I do hope that April decides to have more children someday because she was an amazing mother, she is an amazing mother, & she will be an amazing mother. 

The brilliant, compassionate, generous people over at drmomma.org wrote a loving piece in memory of Fox; it includes an opportunity to donate to help cover the cost of the funeral.  There is a link & an address at the end of the article, along with statistics explaining the average cost of funerals.  It takes some families years to be able to afford even the simplest grave marker for their child.  Why funeral homes don’t automatically donate these things is beyond me, but if you are in a position to donate even one dollar, we could be helping April & Morgan so much.  They do not need this weight on their already-heavy shoulders; we need to lift it.  Donate here.

I found Earth Mama Angel Baby to be a great resource as the friend of someone who has lost a baby.  They have a portion of products & wisdom that is specifically for baby loss, which is such a considerate thing to do as a company that caters to mothers. 

Have you experienced the loss of a child, or have you known someone whose child died?  How did you cope, what did you do?  What resources did you find valuable?  I encourage you to leave your story here.  In the meantime, I am remembering baby Fox & honoring everything April & Morgan did for him.  One friend at Fox’s funeral suggested that we take a moment in silence to surround them with love & light & support; that is what I aim to do now.  April will be updating her blog, when the time is right, to include her experience with Fox & losing him, as well as her potential future pregnancy.  Book mark it, leave comments, show your love.  She is a unique person with a valuable perspective that should be supported & remembered.  Peace & love.

Kristen Tea

About Kristen Tea

I am a 27-year-old single, attached, informed, lactivist, intactivist, peaceful Minnesotan mother of almost 4-year-old Sun Ronin a.k.a Sunny Boy. I am an artist & lover of expression. I'm also a student with many things to learn, including nutritional therapy, lactation consulting, doulahood, yoga instructing, & more. I believe that unplanned pregnancies do not have to equal uninformed motherhood, & women have the power to restore humanity to everything we touch.

Comments (35)

Thank you for sharing this heart-breaking story about Baby Fox and his amazing parents. I, like you, cannot even fathom the incomprehendable devastation of what happened. I just cannot. I am thankful for drmomma.org endlessly, every day. I am sending a donation and I wish there was anything I could do that would actually help in any other way. This should never have happened: it is an absolute TRAGEDY in the truest sense of the word
I lost my son DJ 4 years ago on October 8, 2006. He was 13, skateboarding and fell hard. He never recovered. Since then our family has had to ride this horrible ride-it is unbelievable, unimaginable and is wrong on so many levels. Afterwards so many people gave my family lots of books to offer support but they were too lofty and not helpful to me. I had a close friend compare the loss of DJ to the loss of her dog. After that I decided I didn't want another parent to hear that comparison, those hurtful words. Since then I have interviewed 13 families that have lost children (from 20 minutes to 35 years of age) and asked them over 25 questions on how they handled the loss of their child, how it affected areas such as their marriage, intimacy, friendships. I asked them what they did with their children's rooms, clothes, etc. It is titled Flowers on a Child's Grave...Now what It will be available in Dec on ebook and to order. I am so sorry for your friend, I know the pain and it sucks but time does help to manage it. If you have any questions or would like me to talk to your friend please don't hesitate to email. I unfortunately know too much about the pain she is going through-(She can follow me on facebook or twitter where I post my blog about surviving the loss of a child) Sincerely, Lisa Epperson--forever DJ's mom
Oh, April, I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet baby Fox. My daughter died shortly after birth on May 14th of this year. I had a normal pregnancy and labor, but for reasons we will never know she was unable to live outside of me. She was born at a beautiful birthing center in the country in Oregon. I know how devastating it is to say good-bye when you have done everything in your power to ensure the health of your baby. The online world has been wonderful in helping me through my grief. Sites like Glow in the Woods (www.glowinthewoods.com), Grieve Out Loud, (grieveoutloud.org), and Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope (facesofloss.com), as well as my own blog, are the life rafts carrying me through this storm. I am so glad you are remembering Fox, Kristen. For those who have lost babies it helps to have their names spoken, their stories told, their lives remembered. Love your friend, speak of Fox, and continue to give her the space to mourn her sweet baby. Love and light.
Heartbreaking. I found myself clutching my baby closer as I read this, tears dripping down my face. .-= melissa´s last blog ..The best picture yet! =-.
This is truly heartbreaking. I can't imagine ever losing my son. Him not waking up from his sleep was always my number one fear...I remember waking up almost every hour checking to see if he was breathing. I just cannot imagine or conceive how April & Morgan is feeling...I know I would have the hardest time recovering. Please send my condolences to April and to let her know that there are many people thinking of and praying for Fox... .-= Sheryll´s last blog ..What Are Parents Looking For in a Babysitter =-.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Being pregnant, this was especially difficult for me to read. I can't even imagine what Fox's poor mommy and daddy must be going through. It makes my stomach hurt and heart ache!! .-= Xela´s last blog ..A Season For Change =-.
Kristen, Thank you for this post. I am April's friend and housemate, and I've seen firsthand how devastating this has been for April, Morgan, their families, friends and all the communities they are part of. Thankfully, many people have been extremely supportive. I was at the funeral too, and seeing the broad cross-section of punks and radicals, friends and family, was truly moving. There are indeed no words to express the traumatic and cruelly unfair grief around a baby's death. All of us are doing our best to be supportive, but it doesn't mitigate the brutal awfulness of the situation. We will all go on, and keep expressing our love and solidarity with one another, but we will never forget Fox and the love he received during his brief life. Thank you again, Niels
I read this a little while ago and put on Elliott Smiths s/t while I made the kids a snack. Even though I have never met your friends or their lovely son, I think of them often. We continue to send love and light to Fox, April and Morgan. <3 .-= karen ´s last blog ..Slowing Down =-.
You know I NEVER cry, but when it regards children hurt or dying I can't help the tears. Condolences to the family, especially the mother. I know Kayce from 'heart and hands' blog has had to deal with multiple child losses and will have valuable advice for you in helping this family. Great post, so tragic it had to be written. .-= Cherie - Natural Mama NZ´s last blog ..Child-led learning Un-schooling =-.
"a tiny casket is the most wrong thing in the world" truer words have never been spoken. I have been to 2 funerals for infants and one for a small child and it changed me forever. I can not fathom how people manage to function when they lose a child. I remember reading Aprils story and donating right away and have been thinking of her and her family often. I send her love and healing energy.
Lisa , first I would like to say how sorry I am for the loss you and your family suffered when DJ died. Words fail, we simply do not know how to respond when someone loses a child, it is every parent's worst fear to lose a child. This brings me to the part of your posting: "I had a close friend compare the loss of DJ to the loss of her dog. After that I decided I didn’t want another parent to hear that comparison, those hurtful words." The friend who said this, didn't mean to hurt you. She was probably not able to find the right words. No, there is NO comparison. Just as no two people will grieve the same way for a child, a parent, a sibling......or a dog. Two years ago, my father passed away very unexpedtedly, a month later my beloved dog died, and 7 months later, my friend and fellow cancer-support group member, died after a long battle with Ovarian cancer. None of these deaths can be compared to the other, and yet, I am still staggering, trying to deal with my father's death. But,the grief for my dog was also very real. I am absolutely not comparing, or saying that losing a dog is the same as losing a child. I just want to say that your friend most likely didn't mean to hurt, she was probably at a loss for words. To April and Morgan, I am truly so sorry for your loss. Yes, words fail to express my sorrow for Fox, who was so loved. I am sending love and light, to all who love Fox. RIP. .-= Mathilda´s last blog ..An autumn day in Central Park =-.
What a devastating story. Thank you for writing about it, and remembering Baby Fox, on this blog. It's just so sad. And you write about it so eloquently here. .-= Jennifer Margulis´s last blog ..Miracles All Around Us =-.
I have been reading everything on Baby Fox since peaceful parenting posted it... And I am still brought to tears. And my heart aches so much for this family. I agree that this Angel Baby got more love in a week then some kids get in a life time... And how unfair this is... The tears flow for this mom... <3 for Baby Fox!!
This brought me to tears, as a first time mother I cannot imagine the pain and loss of losing a child. My daughter was born 8 weeks early, and we were lucky enough that she is doing great and was relativly healthy. Fox was a little angel who's time was cut too short on this earth. I will be thinking of April and Morgan during this time and hoping that they have the love and support so needed. Unfortunatly I am unable to send money, but I will spread the word. Thank you for sharing this story
I lost my son on Christmas Day 2004. He was 16 days old. A normal, healthy baby, he woke up to nurse that morning, fell back asleep and never woke back up. It is the most excruciating experience you can imagine. In three weeks, my family and I are welcoming the birth of a new baby boy, the first and only since Eric. This baby is due around the time of my son's birthday. So many emotions run through me these days, so many worries and so much hope. Most of all, I know that I can raise healthy girls, but I worry about this boy, as my legacy with sons is such a sad one. If you have a minute in the coming weeks, please say a prayer for us this holiday season.
I too lost my baby boy Joey to Sids at 10 weeks 5 days old. Here is a link to his story. The dates at the top of the post are incorrect though. He was born May 21, 2008 and passed on August 4, 2008. http://www.naylenshope.com/joeyfanton.html For me the first year was horrible. The first 4 months are the worst. I was in so much pain and all I could think about was my baby boy. I can not compare the pain I felt when I lost my son to anything I have ever experienced before. For me, the best thing I did was to find a support group online (www.dailystrength.com - They have a Sids group). Although it was sad to see all the parents on here and know that they too had lost a baby, it was comforting to be able to talk to someone who truely understood the pain. I could talk to other parents that had lost a child and it gave me hope that things would get better. I know a lot of other parents have found local support groups and they say this also helps. This was not an option for me as there are no local support groups in my area. My heart goes out to Fox's family. God bless you and your family. Stay close and surround yourself with people that support you.
Utterly heartbreaking. I can't even imagine. And I so agree that "a tiny casket is the most wrong thing in the world" -- I can remember thinking at 14, when I attended the funeral of a baby I had babysat, that coffins that size shouldn't exist. My thoughts go out to April and Morgan. .-= Heather´s last blog ..A Horse in Nigeria and Induction of Labor Part 1 – Naturally =-.
Thank you for your words; you have described how I feel perfectly. I know how much your empathy means to me & I can imagine how much it means to April.
Lisa, I am so sorry for your loss. My son is 2.5 & I can't imagine knowing him for so long & then losing him. Thank you for turning it into something helpful for the rest of the world. I will be looking for your book in December!
Angela, I am so very sorry to hear about the death of your daughter. Not finding any reason is so sickening, I think, especially when everyone appeared healthy. Thank you for sharing those resources & I LOVE your blog. I love it. It is so beautiful but devestating & such a good way to recognize your experience & remember your daughter. I will share it with April as I think it will be an invaluable resource. Much love.
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