River’s Story

As told by River’s Mum

On July 2nd, 2011, our precious firstborn, River Jak Adam, entered the world, weighing 7lb 3oz. He was absolutely perfect in every sense.

From the moment I held him, I made a solemn vow to protect him throughout my life. Not a single day passed without expressing to him how cherished and adored he was.

The next four months and four days were filled with the joy River brought into our lives. He was a bundle of energy, loving everything except sleep. Whether it was playing with his little blue elephant, dancing with his Nan to the Wiggles, or strolling along the beach in his pram, he embraced every moment. Yet, nothing compared to the joy of his nightly baths, where his laughter echoed through our home.

On the evening of Sunday, November 6, despite recovering from his first cold, River was unusually smiley and happy during his bath. After feeding, he peacefully drifted off to sleep, and I placed him in his cot before quietly leaving his nursery.

Just two weeks earlier, we transitioned River to his cot as he started rolling in his bedside bassinet. Sadly, I was under the mistaken belief that our visual/audible monitor would offer “bedside-like” surveillance – a belief that haunts me to this day.

River woke a few times for cuddles during the night, and at 11.30pm, I fed him again before placing him back in his cot, expecting him to wake again soon. Checking the monitor, I saw him sound asleep, and as an exhausted mom, I quickly succumbed to a deep sleep myself.

The next morning, waking up to sunlight in our bedroom, I glanced at the monitor, wondering why River hadn’t woken me earlier. Assuming my mum, who had recently arrived from the UK, had tended to him, I went to check on them. To my horror, the house was silent, and my panicked search revealed that both my mom and River were still asleep.

Approaching River’s cot, I was met with a devastating sight. River had moved in his sleep, out of view of the camera. I touched him in a panic, realizing he was cold and lifeless. The scream for help that followed will forever haunt my husband Karl and my mom.

Our beloved little man, the light of our lives, had passed away between 11.30pm and that morning on November 7, 2011. River was just 128 days old.

Despite being healthy, happy, deeply loved, and sleeping safely, the days that followed were a blur as we prepared for our baby’s funeral. The Victorian Coroner confirmed River’s case as category 2 SIDS, with an inflamed trachea, a common cold symptom. However, this alone was not sufficient to explain his death.

No external risk factors were found, and he was on his back when I discovered him lifeless. The forensic autopsy revealed no virus or organ defects – River was healthy, strong, and perfect in every way.

Now, our mission is to understand why these tragedies occur. We are determined to ensure that future generations do not endure the loss we have experienced. River’s name will forever shine brightly as a symbol of hope for the prevention of sudden and unexpected infant death. His legacy is our gift to the world.

Alex Hamilton | Director of River’s Gift