Baby Tommy Roden passed away from sepsis on July 3, being just 6 days old. His parents Becki, 30, and Jon, 29 were at his side. Though Tommy was born eight weeks premature, he was getting stronger all the time and doctors were slowly reducing the amount of oxygen given to him. However, it took 12 hours for sepsis to kill him. While the funeral was hosted on July 31, the family wanted Tommy to stay with them. Therefore, his ashes were put in a jar decorated with teddies, and this way, he can go out whenever his brothers Luke, 9, Tyler, 7, and Matthew, 2, go out.
“Tommy will always be our fourth little boy," says Becki. "When people question it, I say, ‘Well, you wouldn’t leave your baby at home.’ He was taken so suddenly from us, but we will make sure he is never forgotten.”
She also recalled his birth, which had gone surprisingly smoothly for someone born so early: “He was actually a good weight for a premature baby. He cried and was breathing on his own. We got a look at him at then they took him up to neonatal intensive care so they could incubate him. He was doing well, but he just needed that little bit of help.”
Tommy was kept in an incubator on the neonatal ward. The doctors and nurses were pleased with how strong he was getting. “We would go and see him every single day,” Becki said. “He was on oxygen two hours a day and then four hours off, and he was kept in an incubator to help him control his body temperature. He was doing so well. I managed to breast feed him once, and we got to cuddle him the next day. All his brothers came and met him. He was getting stronger and stronger.”
On July 2, when the family was back home from visiting Tommy, the hospital called and said that the baby had developed an infection. 20 minutes later, they phoned to say it was sepsis. The parents rushed to the hospital and stayed with Tommy through the night. They were heartbroken when doctors warned them he might not make it. He was still alive when Becki and Jon went out to drive his siblings to school in the morning and came back.
He was still fighting. “His heart would keep dropping out, and then he would come back and then drop out again," Becki said. The doctors asked us if we wanted them to resuscitate him, and we said yes. They told us that his heart was beating, but it was extremely slow – it was not even 40 beats per minute and a normal heart rate is 110bpm. I knew he was doing really poorly, and he couldn’t fight any more so I told them they could stop. We didn’t want him to be in any pain.”
Becki wanted to create memories of the boy, so she dressed him up for the first time and took pictures of them together. Jon joined her in the picture before they went home to break the news to Tommy's brothers. “Luke and Tyler came home and they asked us if we were okay, and we had to just say, ‘I’m so sorry darlings but Tommy was very poorly overnight and he died this morning.’ I had to watch their hearts break,” recalled Becki.
After the funeral, Tommy was cremated and his ashes were placed in a jar. “We want to make sure that he’s always there with us and we keep him as part of the family," says Becki. “We took the children to a barefoot walk and we kept Tommy’s ashes in the side pocket of the changing bag. He is still part of our family and it feels very natural taking him with us. The older two talk about him all the time, and they draw pictures of them and him and the things he is doing up in heaven.”