Monday, December 22, 2008

Hayes' Best Friend Ice Skates

I went to see a friends' daughter at her ice skating recital. What an amazing performance. Seriously, this 6 year old is amazing. What was even more amazing was that I made it through that performance. I was filled with anxiety about going. This talented girl was born just 2 weeks before Hayes. Her mother and I were pregnant together and had dreams of sharing experiences with our children. 

I was so proud of her. Yet I could not help but think of Hayes the entire time- wishing I were watching him do his thing, whatever that may be. While being proud of this little girl, I was also proud of Hayes for giving me the strength to be there. I cried so hard as she was finishing her performance. I missed him so much. But it felt good. I felt as though I had embraced that fear and that I now can work with it. It may take more time and practice, but I know more about how it feels. I did it. I went to that performance. 

When you are ready, you will know. No need to rush. Your friends will understand. And sometimes, you have to be brave and just do it. You can always make sure that you have an escape if you need it. It is ok to cry, to escape and it is ok if you don't. Just be in the moment.  

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Safe Sleeping

I am so happy to hear that the SIDS Network of Kansas received a grant to distribute new cribs to their community. This is important for many reasons: 1). It sends the message that safe sleeping is an issue, 2). it tells us that our community needs help and 3). it shows what support from any commuity can do.

Kansas is listed as having the 6th highest rate of SIDS in 2006. The fact that they are doing something about it is phenominal. Safe sleeping is so critical, from having the proper bedding and sleeping arrangements to knowing how to position your baby for sleep.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Missing My Baby

I miss Hayes so much. There. I said it. And you can too. The holidays is a very tough time because we feel so much more pain. We miss our loved ones.

It takes alot of effort to feel. But it is important to do this. It does not mean that you have to sit in a corner and mope. Well, you can if you want. But, going for a walk and talking to yourself is fine. Or writing about how you feel in a diary is fine. Invite a family member to take a walk with you and share your feelings. It is ok. And it will feel good.

One thing that I have learned recently is to ask for help. It may be hard to do this because we don't want to bother others. But often they don't know that you want to talk. Let them know. They will listen.

Hayes died of SIDS a little over 6 years ago. I can only imagine how much fun it would be to see him here with our family. I will continue to grieve in the best way I know how. I have learned to live with it as time goes on, but that does not mean that the pain goes away. It really is just that-- I have learned to live with it. Living with it means addressing it, not ignoring it. Ignoring it is not living with it. Remember that it is ok to grieve.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Support That Is Bigger than Life, Or Is That What Life Is

I could only imagine the support and camaraderie that one experiences while running a marathon until Saturday, November 15, 2008. I have trouble explaining the most beautifully intense moments during my race. Seeing my friends as they passed me water, my training buddies meeting me, unexpectedly, at key points on the route to run with me, helping to pace me so that I would not go too fast (I was going too fast...). But then, one particular period in time that was filled with even more elation was at mile 20. I noticed someone was running next to me in cowboy boots. I recall thinking how odd it was. I looked up to see my brother and his son who had driven 9 hours to support me.

I have always been into fitness but have only dreamt of the level of fitness at which I am today. It took me awhile before I would start exercising again after Hayes died. A couple of friends encouraged me. My business coach pushed me as she saw me tearing up every time we talked. I had a lot of anxiety. Every detail of my life seemed enormous. Another friend bought me a pedometer. I began to live and breathe by that thing. I wore it everywhere. That is when I started walking and that quickly turned into running. I wanted more.
What I found was the therapy that it provided. I run first thing in the morning so that 1). Nothing else gets in the way of this important activity for my health and 2). It can provide me with my own time to think. Just think. I solve a lot of problems during this time and then I am ready for my day.

I was asked by a few other friends if I wanted to start running with them. Next, they asked me if I wanted to start training with them. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I went with it. Seven months later, I run a marathon and qualify for Boston. Emotions are overflowing. Check it out here:

Notice in this video that I say “…and I thank everybody for helping me…”

It truly amazes me how we can come together to help one another. I am so incredibly grateful. I have had this same support since the death of my child, Hayes. The beauty is realizing the love that we have as human beings. A true statement to our ability to live.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Few Simple Steps...SIDS

Thanks to the Richmond Times Dispatch for including our Commentary in the Sunday paper. We hope to help others by sharing information when we get it.

You can see the article here.

"What makes SIDS all the more maddening is that it knows no cure: The first symptom is death.
SIDS doesn't discriminate, robbing parents from all walks of life of their bundles of joy as they are just getting to know them. While SIDS occurs more in lower-income families, Los Angeles Lakers star Lamar Odom lost a son to SIDS in 2006, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Bryant's son died several weeks ago unexpectedly, most likely of SIDS (the cause of death has yet to be determined)."

It doesn't matter who you are. You should be aware so that it doesn't happen to you and your family.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reducing the Risk: Fans and SIDS

A recent study revealed that putting a fan in your baby’s room might reduce the risk of SIDS by 72 percent. What’s more, Newsweek reported of another study by the journal Pediatrics that 25 percent of parents of 3-month-olds still aren’t following the recommendation that babies sleep on their backs. The majority of SIDS deaths occur when a baby is 2 to 4 months old.

This number is alarmingly high – in light of the fact that “Back to Sleep” has been suggested since 1994 – and is exactly why we believe there needs to be more education and why we started the This Side Up campaign. If 25 percent of parents don’t know babies are safest from SIDS when sleeping on their backs, wouldn’t you expect the number to be much higher for grandparents? Baby sitters? Daycare providers?

Celebrity Moms for SIDS

October is SIDS Awareness Month. I was excited to hear about the Style My Stroller Campaign – an effort by the CJ Foundation for SIDS to raise awareness of SIDS.

Maclaren donated strollers, which were designed by Angie Harmon (who is expecting her third child), Tori Spelling (who welcomed her second baby in June), Ashlee Simpson and Marissa Jaret Winokur and auctioned off from Oct. 6-13. We’re still waiting to see the finished designs and hear about how much was raised.

Starting a SIDS conversation

In memory of my son, Hayes Hitzeman, I envision a future in which no parent loses a child to SIDS - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

I began the Hayes Foundation in 2002 days after Hayes' untimely and heartbreaking passing with the goal of raising awareness of SIDS and helping to further research so that we all might understand how to help prevent babies dying from this unexplained disease. One of the Hayes Foundation's major efforts is the This Side Up campaign, which is helping to distribute educational baby garments in hospitals across Virginia and Tennessee so that parents and caregivers will understand that the safest way for a baby to sleep is on his back.

As I begin this blog, though, I invite you to come back often for updates on SIDS research, the This Side Up campaign, and most importantly, to help create a community where we can spread the word about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS.