21-year-old Australian mother Carly Wowk had to go through what no mother should experience: her two month old baby was suffocated.
The mother-of-three put her young daughter to bed for her afternoon nap and then went for a nap herself, but she soon got woken up by her partner’s screams.
‘I woke up to screaming, I jolted awake. My honest first thought was he’s chopped his thumb off, he’s been using knives and something’s detached,’ the mother, from Canberra, told Daily Mail Australia. ‘The pain in his cry was undeniable and he brought her into the lounge room. He held her in such a way as if to say “look at her”.’
‘He was screaming, then I started screaming, I flipped the table because it was a quicker route and ran up to them.’
Carly had told her partner to start CPR as she had noticed that Zara was blue.
She said that she screamed ‘where are you, why aren’t you coming right now’.
‘She was still warm, she was stiff. It was like she was still sleeping but she just had a blue tinge to her,’ she said.
‘I knew she wasn’t breathing, he started the newborn CPR with two fingers and I called triple zero. I honestly expected them to fix her like 100%. There wasn’t even a tiny part of me that thought she was going to die, that came as a complete shock. It was the longest four minutes of my whole life… I remember the guy saying that I needed to prepare myself the worst. Until this point, I know this is going to sound funny, but I really didn’t expect them to say that. I said “what? You have to promise me you’re not going to give up” and I made the poor man promise – I probably ruined his day. I sat there screaming and crying but there were no tears, it was like this sound I’ve never heard before and never want to hear again come out of my mouth.’ she reported to Daily Mail Australia.
As the paramedics worked on Zara, Carly and her partner just had to stand by and watch.
Although Ms Wowk was in a ‘messed up state’ she managed to call her partner’s parents to pick up her oldest daughter Aaliyah, who was aged four at the time.
‘At this point they were still working on her and the ambos had spoken to my father in law and said “look mate she’s not coming back”,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘They were being brutally honest with him to be brutally honest with someone because they couldn’t tell us. I knew they were trying everything to bring her back, they just couldn’t… It was when I was introduced to a social worker I knew there was no way she was coming back. The doctors exact words were “we have to give up now”. At this point they had been working on her for two hours. Her brain had been so deprived of oxygen so if she was brought back she would be severely disabled,’ Carly stated. My partner and I held one hand of her hands each as they stopped working on her, as she passed away, and I held her for seven hours after that. It was the worst ten hours of my life.’ she added.
It turned out baby Zara had rolled over onto her stomach, which her mother and father didn’t know she could do yet.
She had actually suffocated herself, contrary to what the family believed that someone else had suffocated her.
She was declared dead on November 19, 2015, at around 5 o’clock.
”Her brain had been so deprived of oxygen so if she was brought back she would be severely disabled,’ Carly explained. I only found out recently through asking questions and through morticians I’ve met, because she was still warm and she was blue but she hadn’t gone into rigor mortis or anything like that she had passed away 20 minutes before we found her,’ she said.
‘I’ve been searching for answers ever since. When we got the autopsy results back and it said SIDS asphyxiation… SIDS two is unsafe bedding. That’s what happened with Zara she had asphyxiation and she actually did suffocate in the bed.’
It took Carly five months for the fact that her daughter was no longer with her to sink in.
‘Finding out information does help. I’m not going to say it heals me… but the more I know the more I feel like I’m there for her through that.’ I wasn’t able to save her and there’s nothing on this earth I would have loved more to have done that. I can’t, but there are kids out there I might be able to in her name.’
Carly stated the main thing she wants to do now is raise awareness about these beds:
She added that the bed that Zara suffocated in was a similar design to this:
‘I want them banned from shelves or I want a massive label on all the brands saying “do not you leave baby unattended in this bed as there’s a possible suffocation risk”. You never think its going to happen to you and I didn’t know it was suffocation hazard. If I hadn’t have used it I would have had a two-year-old walking around.’
She posted this on her Facebook page to raise awareness for these beds that could potentially suffocate another innocent child and end their life prematurely.
‘I would do anything I could to have her back, which I can’t, but I can prevent this from happening to another family.’
Since the death of her Zara, Carly gave birth to her third daughter, Charlotte Hope, who she says is the spitting image of Zara.
‘Since having my beautiful baby [Charlotte Hope] I’m not dreading the future. My mum said it best, I think it broke her heart to see me suffering so much. She said there was a light in my eyes that just wasn’t there anymore but as soon as I had Charlotte that light came back.’
Even though Zara is no longer with her, Carly still has a lot of hope.