Danielle Williams’ second child, a boy, would have been celebrating his eighth birthday this year. But he won’t get the chance.
One night as an infant, he went to sleep and never woke up. The medical term for his death is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly called SIDS.
Although the number of babies who die from SIDS has declined dramatically since the 1990s, more than 3,500 babies still die from SIDS in the U.S. each year. In just one six-week period in Baltimore in 2018, six babies died from SIDS.
Medical leaders say many babies pass away because they are placed in unsafe sleep conditions.
After discovering she was pregnant again in 2018, Danielle knew she needed to be proactive about protecting her new baby.
“My doctor referred me to DRU/Mondawmin Healthy Families, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it because I haven’t run into a lot of programs that try to prevent SIDS,” she explained. “This time I wanted to be more educated. At DRUM they explained what [SIDS] is, showed us videos, gave us booklets and they were just so helpful in teaching me ways to help my baby.”
DRUM encourages all parents to follow the “ABC’s of Sleep.” Babies should sleep alone, on their backs, and in a crib.
Danielle says DRUM also gave her individual support as a mother.
“A lot of programs just focus on stuff for the child, but DRUM is there for me, as well,” she said.
The 32-year-old said her Family Support Worker, Jessica Davis, has become a confidant who listens to her struggles, refers her to programs, and offers advice.
“I didn’t have to do everything by myself,” Danielle said. “I had this encouraging person who I could share my goals with and who wouldn’t judge me.”
Her daughter Madison was born on Thanksgiving Day 2018. Danielle says even after her child’s birth; Jessica remains her rock.
“A lot of people were discouraging me from starting a new career at 32, but I just wasn’t happy in security,” she said. “Jessica encouraged me to pursue nursing and is always pushing me. She would say ‘Did you register for class? How are your grades?’ She was there for me and gave the motivation that I needed.”
In May 2019, Danielle graduated as the valedictorian of her Certified Nursing Assistant program. She credits DRUM with being instrumental to her success and the health of her baby girl, who is now 10 months old.
“A lot more people need to hear about DRUM and take advantage of their services,” Danielle said. “They are here to help you become a better parent by teaching you to help yourself…You may not have the support at home, but you can get it with DRUM.”
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