Menomonie, WI (WXOW) - A Menomonie family wants parents to hear what they've been through, hoping that will help prevent another tragedy.
"She was the most amazing, most beautiful baby ever, she really was. She was just like a light," says Allison Freeman about her daughter Esme Freeman.
About a week and a half ago, Bill and Allison Freeman were faced with an unthinkable tragedy, the sudden death of their four-month-old daughter Esme Freeman.
Bill Freeman says, "I fed her a bottle and I fell asleep laying on the couch with her on my chest." That night, Bill says he was taking care of Esme so his wife could get some sleep, normally Esme would sleep in her crib.
Allison says, "He was trying to help me. And I think a lot of parents are in that same situation and are trying anything just to try and get some sleep."
The next morning, Bill woke up with the baby by his side and instantly knew something was wrong. He says, "I went and got Allison and we called 911 and we tried to resuscitate her as best as we knew how. But, you could just tell, that she was dead. She was gone."
Bill says, "It is the worst feeling I have felt in my whole entire life and I was so angry and I was so sad and I was so many things at once. Most of all, I was really sad."
The Freeman's want to urge parents to never sleep with their baby. "When you get up in the middle of the night... Do it, get up in the middle of the night and do it," says Bill. Allison followed on his thought and added, "Because... we would do anything to be able to wake up in the middle of the night with her."
Bill and Allison say they have seen warning signs about co-sleeping in the past, since the birth of their first daughter Amelia. "We went into the doctor's office just recently and on the back of the door, it says, do not sleep with your child. And, it's probably been hanging there since Amelia was born and I've probably read it. And it was first time I looked at it and said, yeah... Don't. Don't do it," says Bill.
The Freeman's say they are moving forward one day at a time. Bill says, "This is what has been eating me alive is, we are the responsible adults. And we're not only responsible for bringing this child into this world but making sure they're safe. So, how can you not have feelings of guilt?"
They say they have been going to therapy sessions at the Healing Place in Eau Claire. But, there is one thing that keeps them going each day. "We have Amelia. We have a reason to get up. And somebody needs to, you know, get her ready for school," says, Bill.
There have been ad campaigns in other parts of the state about the dangers of co-sleeping, namely Milwaukee. Hundreds of baby deaths have been reported there in recent years, with co-sleeping a factor in many of those deaths.
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