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Hunter's Story

Hunter James, our third child, was born May 31, 2001. It was a difficult pregnancy. I was on bed rest for months. I wasn't due until my husband's birthday, June 8th. It was decided he would come into our lives a week earlier. We went to the hospital at 10 p.m., to be induced. Wow, did it hurt. I had been through this twice before and didn't remember the pain being so intense. But, when they gave me my precious, healthy, baby boy, it was all forgotten. His big brothers, Matthew, 10 and Brendan, 3 were so happy and proud. He brought so much joy to our lives in such a short time. We watched him grow and learn and become his own little person.

Hunter was eating from a spoon and showing excitement when you talked to him. And that smile, who could resist that little toothless grin. As soon as he heard a voice he recognized he would search the room until he found that person and show how happy he was to see them. Mornings were our favorite times. Hunter loved the morning time and would be so happy and so much fun to be with. We would lay him down and talk and play and he would respond back by small little cooing sounds or kicking his little feet as fast as they could go. Boy, does it hurt every single morning.

Then came that horrible day. My husband was home with all 3 boys, while I was at work. My parents were coming to pick up Matt & Bren to keep them over night, so they could visit the train station the next morning. Dante laid Hunter down for his nap around 5:45 p.m. and went to help Brendan get ready. When he went to get Hunter, no more than 15 minutes later, our little angel was gone. Dante tried so hard to bring him back but, he was already gone. He called me at work to tell me to go to the hospital but, wouldn't tell me why. While driving to the hospital, I had all sorts of horrible images, but nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to be told.

I got to the hospital in about 5-10 minutes and was told by the triage department that my husband was in the "bereavement room"!! Can you believe they told me just like that? I then knew that one of my precious boys were gone. When I opened the door, I saw Matthew, Dante, a detective and then my Brendan. I was then told that Hunter had stopped breathing. I collapsed on the floor screaming. My two older boys jumped to comfort me. I was crying uncontrollably and a few nurses came in to calm me down. I told them that I needed to be with my baby and they told me I could go as long as I calmed down. I promised I would and they let me see him. I believe every kind of specialist available was there trying to bring my angel back. I asked for a priest, even though my child had been Baptized, I still wanted one there.

All they would tell me was they were still trying to help him. They were working on him. The police that were there were unbelievable. Dante was questioned over and over and over. Finally, about an hour after him being with the doctors they came out and told me that they brought him back and they were going to transfer him to the city hospital CHOP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia). They have a SIDS team there. The priest came out and told me he anointed Hunter and then he was ready to be taken to the other hospital. The detective would not let us go with him until we let them in to our apartment to examine the premises. We rushed back home to find that we couldn't enter, even to get Hunter's favorite blanket or medical card, because they labeled our home a "crime scene".

After about 15 minutes of waiting, the detective came and we all went upstairs. They did a quick look around and said they saw no signs of neglect or abuse so we could go to Hunter. But, they couldn't close the case until they got word from CHOP on his condition. We raced down to the hospital, which took between 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. This is a high security hospital. So we had to be escorted upstairs to the 6th floor. This was the longest elevator ride of my life. They wouldn't let us see him. They made us wait in the family lounge and once again all we heard was they were working on him. But, they did tell us we needed to register him. As soon as that was done, in came the doctor, a nurse and a social worker and we knew what was to be told to us.

I told them to just tell us he was gone and that's what they did. They escorted us to another room and let our family come with us. We had to tell them that he was gone. I wanted to be with him, they told us to wait a few moments while they prepared the room. When they came to get us I felt as though I was walking the last mile. They let us hold him and talk to him and spend as much time as we needed. They also let our family too. There was no rush. We even waited for my parents (they had our other two boys at their house). I was very upset that I didn't have a lock of his hair. Hunter was born with a thick head of brownish, blonde hair and so they gave me a lock of his hair for me to cherish. They also made me a cast of his hand.

Hunter looked so very peaceful. Just as if he was still asleep. No pain was on his face. I loved his little fingers and when I opened his hand he had a single strand of my hair in the palm of his hand. He loved my hair. He would bury his face in it and always had a piece either in his hand or around a toe. My husband cut a lock of my hair for Hunter. The roughest part was having to tell our boys that their brother was gone. Matthew cried but Brendan just wanted us to bring his baby brother home. All we could tell him was that Hunter was with the angels. Now he tells us Hunter is on the moon and if he falls he'll catch him.

The outpouring of support we have had since this monster took our baby has been a little overwhelming. A friend gave us a place to bury our son, to sleep and the funeral home was very generous as well. Not to mention the donations made by friends and family to the SIDS foundation. Without all the support who knows where we would be. I just thank the Lord for leaving us Matt & Bren. I cannot and never will understand why our baby had to go, but our boys give us the strength to carry on. Without them I don't know where we would be. Brendan tells us all the time that he misses us and loves us (which he never did before). In a way this has made our family closer, but Hunter will always be with us, in heart and soul. - Katie Martino

Mommy and Daddy love you, Hunter and will always be with you!

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