Catherine Hughes, who is from Perth, Australia, has shared a picture which she says shows the ‘moment my heart broke’ when she realised her son Riley ‘wouldn’t make it’.
The mum devastatingly had to say goodbye to her baby son when he developed whooping cough and passed away at just 32 days old.
Being just a few weeks old, Riley was too young for the vaccination against the disease which is administrated at six weeks old.
Since his death, Catherine has researched whooping cough and realised that if she had been vaccinated against the disease herself, it could have helped her baby boy.
Catherine has set up Facebook page Light for Riley where she explains that at the time of Riley’s death ‘we discovered that women in the UK, USA, Belgium and New Zealand were being recommended a whooping cough vaccine in their third trimester.’
She continues to say that, ‘since the introduction of this pregnancy vaccine, the UK has seen a reduction in infant deaths from pertussis by over 90%.’
Tragically it was just two days after Riley’s death that Catherine’s state government announced the introduction of a program where these third trimester booster shots would be offered free of charge to pregnant women.
Through her page she seeks to educate people about the dangers of whooping cough, and positively promote the need for vaccination.
It was on her page that she shared the image, which she captioned, ‘This is the moment my heart broke. This is the moment I realised you were unlikely to make it. This is the moment my life turned upside down. This is the moment I wanted to throw up in fear. This is the moment where I just didn’t want to let go of your hand. This is the moment I learned just how much I loved you.’
The image has so far been liked over 4,000 times with many social media users flooding the photo with messages of support.
One Facebook user commented, ‘That is a moment no parent or child should suffer or experience. Thanks for all the advocating and work you’ve done. RIP Riley’
Another thanked Catherine for raising awareness around the disease, ‘We are off to get our 6 month needles this morning. I am so sorry you had to go through this pain. But on behalf of many, thank you for doing all you can to make sure our babies are safe. Riley certainly had purpose ❤❤❤’.
Speaking to Kidspot, Catherine opened up about the moment she found out how serious Riley’s condition was.
‘When the doctor gently told us that Riley was likely not going to make it, I felt like someone had reached into my chest and gripped my heart tightly, squeezing it. My stomach felt like it was filled with rocks and my hands started to shake.’
She continued to explain the anger she felt at being faced with such a terrible situation, ‘I felt angry. I was angry at the visiting doctor who’d told me Riley was perfectly healthy. I was angry at myself, for thinking that breastfeeding meant my baby would be fine.
‘I was angry at this bacteria, an enemy that I couldn’t see, that had destroyed my son’s body. I was angry at every single God/Higher being that I had desperately bargained with and pleaded with.’
The mum admitted that the shock was overwhelming, ‘I felt shocked. Shocked that I wouldn’t be taking home my baby. Shocked that I would never look into his beautiful blue eyes ever again.
‘Shocked that our family of four was about to become a family of three again. Shocked that whooping cough, a vaccine-preventable disease, still killed children in this day and age.
‘More than anything, I felt broken. Whooping cough had destroyed my son’s life and I thought his death would destroy mine. And despite the immense pain, the tears, the heartbreak and the scrutiny, it hasn’t.’