Elisha Palmer, a 36-year-old writer and mother from Iowa, didn’t know what to do after her 3-month-old son Knox died in his sleep last December.
“There’s not a word in the dictionary that exists to describe the pain when you’ve lost your child. I kept saying I don’t know what to do with my arms. My arms are empty. He was always in them,” she told People.com.
“He was completely healthy. He just went down for a nap and didn’t wake up. There was nothing that would have been a red flag. We did everything we were supposed to do,” she says. And yet, Knox died.
Doctors attributed the death to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) because they could find no actual explanation of why he died. The Mayo Clinic describes SIDS as “the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SIDS is the leading cause of death for babies 1 to 12 months old.
“There are so many things that are just a blur,” Palmer says. “I remember being in the emergency room. I remember the doctors coming in and they were sobbing. They let us go back and hold him and tell him goodbye.”
Palmer was left with empty arms, no explanation of why her baby died and lots of guilt. She had heard about—and even considered—getting a baby monitor that tracks a baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels, but didn’t.
How could the monitor have helped? Well, even though the cause of death is unknown, SIDS might have something to do with defects in the part of a baby’s brain that controls breathing and waking.
Instead of wallowing in guilt and sorrow, Palmer has found a way to honor Knox’s memory and hopefully save the lives of other babies by starting the Knox Blocks foundation and a Facebook page in his name that raises money to give away the monitors that might have saved her baby’s life.
“I carry that guilt of why didn’t we get one,” Palmer says. “I feel like if he had one there is such a good chance he would be here with us and so our ultimate goal is that no baby goes without this device.”
They have raised more than $33,000 and started giving away the monitors. Then Owlet, the company that makes the monitors, heard about Palmer’s mission and committed to matching whatever Knox Blocks raises, dollar for dollar. So far, 100 monitors have been given away.
If you or someone you know would like to apply for one of these monitors, you can visit the Knox Blocks application page.