Devastated mother who lost her 8-month-old son to SIDS has an important message for other parents: "It's okay to talk about loss"
The 21-year-old mother-of-three has now come forward and said that she has been struggling to come to terms with her son dying in his sleep when he was only 8-months-old.
Krystyn Johnson, from Boise, Idaho, has said that her family had been complete when she gave birth to her baby boy, Mayson Michael Johnson, in 2017. The 21-year-old mother-of-three has now come forward and said that she has been struggling to come to terms with her son dying in his sleep when he was only 8-months-old. Johnson has revealed that she remembers the incident from April 16 like as if it had just happened. Johnson and her friend had gone to the DMV that morning and had left the infant with 23-year-old Trevian Johnson, his father. She suddenly got a call from his mother at around 9 a.m. She said: "My mom goes, 'Kyrstyn, you need to get home. It’s Mayson, there’s an emergency with Mayson'."
Johnson told PEOPLE in an interview: "My first reaction is that it must have been some accident. I didn’t assume it was this big medical emergency. She goes, 'Trevian went to wake [Mayson] up and he was unresponsive, he was not breathing. This is very serious, he has not taken a single breath or heartbeat since the [paramedics] arrived'."
Johnson said that she immediately rushed home and found the police and the paramedics already there. She then said that she saw an ambulance carrying her son away as she was pulling up to the home. The devastated mother and her family hopped into their car and followed the ambulance to the hospital. She said: "I ran into the emergency room. I knew what they were going to tell me. The doctor looked at me and said, 'I’m sorry'. I was immediately sick, I started throwing up on a trash can. I felt every piece of my soul crack. They took me into the hospital room that he was in, and I remember touching him and it was the coldest thing I have ever felt."
The mother said that she wrapped up the lifeless body of her baby boy in blankets and then sat with him and cried. She said: "He wasn’t this warm baby who cuddled me anymore,” she says. “I could feel this part of my soul just didn’t exist anymore. He was lifeless." After a few tests were conducted, the coroner determined that the infant had died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This shocked the mother because cases of SIDS occurring in babies above the age of 6-months-old is quite rare.
Over the months that followed the tragic incident, Johnson said that she felt numb and that she had tried hard to get through her days with her 2-year-old twin daughters, Lilah Nicole and Violet Ann Johnson. The family held a funeral for the infant and a professional photo shoot was done on the day that would have been his first birthday. Speaking through tears, Johnson told PEOPLE: "My right to raise Mayson was taken from me. He wasn’t sick. He was a perfectly healthy baby. It’s heartbreaking. There was no reason for him to leave me. He had been here long enough to make a big impact. He just didn’t wake up. I promised my son I’d protect him from all things, but I couldn’t protect him from death."
Johnson first shared her heartbreaking experience with Love What Matters and she has spoken out about what happened to let other parents out there know that it is perfectly natural to talk about the devastating impact of losing a child. After Mayson died, Johnson said that she had little access to mental health care and has stressed that grieving parents should have adequate access to treatment at such times.
She said: "It took a very heavy toll on my mental health. I thought I was being strong, but in reality, I wasn’t coping. A couple months ago, it got to the point where I could only think about being with my son and I didn’t feel safe. It just became too much. I tried to seek treatment, something more invasive than just counseling."
"I decided to try and find a healing center that focuses on trauma and grief and how to get through these things, but unfortunately with the insurance I have…that’s been my biggest hurdle, finding an appropriate and healthy way to grieve when I have very limited resources. That’s why I’m sharing my story. For me, the only thing I know how to do — because I can’t get the treatment I need — is to just talk about it."
Johnson says that the pain from the incident is still very much there even though it has been five months. Speaking about her son, the mother said: "Mayson was this very bright child. He would follow his twin sisters around and always wanted to be awake and active. [My favorite thing about him] was his soul. He was smiling from the moment he was born. We had a mother-son connection, we had this bond. He was just so happy. Now I feel empty, but I know I will be there to hold him again."