Single woman who fell pregnant at 38 after fearing she would never have kids reveals her heartache after her four-week-old son died suddenly in his sleep

  • Claire Pringle, 40, from London, lost her son Thomas to 'cot death'
  • Doctors were unable to provide a reason for the baby's sudden death  
  • SIDS affects around 300 babies a year but the cause is often unknown
  • Now Claire is raising money for vital research to help other mothers 

A grieving mother has called for more research into sudden infant death syndrome after her baby died suddenly at just four weeks old. 

Claire Pringle, 40, from London, lost her son Thomas to 'cot death' in August 2015 but doctors were unable to find the exact cause.

Claire, who once feared she would never have children, says she feels she is 'stuck in a limbo' since her baby died - and not having an explanation has made it impossible for her to have 'closure'.

Claire  lost her four-week-old son, Thomas (pictured) in August 2015 when he was just four weeks old but doctors were unable to find a exact reason - now she feels she is 'stuck in limbo'

Claire lost her four-week-old son, Thomas (pictured) in August 2015 when he was just four weeks old but doctors were unable to find a exact reason - now she feels she is 'stuck in limbo'

The finance director is now raising money for research into sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which occurs in around 300 babies a year in the UK and for which the exact cause is often unknown.

Recalling the moment she discovered was pregnant, Claire told MailOnline: 'At my age and being single, I wasn’t expecting to have children so it was brilliant news.'

Claire was not in a relationship with Thomas's father and says it was her own decision to 'go it alone'. And as she entered the first few months of her pregnancy, everything seemed to be going smoothly with scans showing a healthy baby boy was on the way.

Claire's son Thomas, who died suddenly when he was a month old. Claire had a smooth pregnancy and there was no indication that anything was wrong

Claire's son Thomas, who died suddenly when he was a month old. Claire had a smooth pregnancy and there was no indication that anything was wrong

Thomas as a newborn - he was born two weeks late and weighed 10lbs. Claire said: 'He had these big blue eyes and he was just a happy, smiley boy. He was the best behaved baby'

Thomas as a newborn - he was born two weeks late and weighed 10lbs. Claire said: 'He had these big blue eyes and he was just a happy, smiley boy. He was the best behaved baby'

With Thomas two weeks overdue, Claire was induced in August 2015 and following a four-day labour, was besotted with her new arrival who was perfectly healthy at 10lbs.

'He had these big blue eyes and he was just such a happy, smiley boy,' she said. 'He was the best behaved baby, my friends couldn’t believe I was out and about with him in the park at just two days old.'

But Claire's world came crashing down just four weeks later, when she woke at 3.30am to feed her son.

'I’d already got into the habit of waking up in the middle of the night to give him a feed,' she explained.

Claire told how Thomas was so well-behaved, she was walking him around the park just two days after giving birth. But just a few weeks later she found him unresponsive in the night

Claire told how Thomas was so well-behaved, she was walking him around the park just two days after giving birth. But just a few weeks later she found him unresponsive in the night

'I don’t know whether I heard something or whether it was just the normal routine of waking up, but I decided to go and check on him and he was unresponsive. 

'He just looked like he was sleeping. I was about to phone my mum, thinking surely I’m just being over-worried, how could anything have happened? But my gut was telling me phone 999.'

Before long Claire's house was surrounded by ambulance sand police cars. But despite paramedics trying their best to revive Thomas he showed no signs of life.

'They told me to bring a friend with me to the hospital,' Claire recalled. 'At that point I realised it was serious.'

They raced to nearby King's College Hospital where, after a gruelling 45-minute wait, a consultant delivered the devastating news that there was nothing more they could do for Thomas.

Speaking of the moment she found her son unresponsive, Claire recalled: 'I don¿t know whether I heard something or whether it¿s just the normal routine of waking up'

Speaking of the moment she found her son unresponsive, Claire recalled: 'I don’t know whether I heard something or whether it’s just the normal routine of waking up'

'I was in complete shock,' recalled Claire, who said it all happened so quickly she felt unable to process the news.

An initial post-mortem came back inconclusive and, following subsequent analysis, a coroner was forced to conclude it was sudden infant death syndrome - cause unknown.

Claire said she simply 'couldn't accept' not having an explanation for her son's death. 'At least if I knew a reason, it would provide closure,' she said.

'For those first few months, I was just in a complete fog,' said Claire, who buried her son in Ireland in September 2015. 'It was like I wasn’t even there in my body. I was just hovering about just in a zombie zone, walking through treacle.'

'When there's no reason [for the death] it’s hard to make sense of it, because you’re angry and you blame yourself. You want answers but you can’t get them. 

Now Claire is focusing her energy on raising money for the Lullaby Trust which provides specialist support for bereaved families and funds research into SIDS

Now Claire is focusing her energy on raising money for the Lullaby Trust which provides specialist support for bereaved families and funds research into SIDS

'For his funeral, I carried his coffin by myself. People kept saying, "You’re so strong to do that," but I almost didn't feel anything; I felt completely removed from the situation.

'I couldn’t make arrangements to see anybody or go out, I couldn't bear to leave the room. I shut down.'

Claire returned to work the following November on a part-time basis, but struggled to concentrate or to think of anything else besides her son. 

'I work in a school and lots of the kids had questions. I couldn't help thinking, how does everyone else manage to produce a healthy child and mine died? It isn’t fair.'

Now Claire is focusing on raising money for the Lullaby Trust which provides specialist support for bereaved families and funds research into SIDS.

This weekend she will take part in a half marathon alongside four friends, with the group having already raised £6,400.

Claire is taking part in a half marathon alongside four friends, with the group having already raised £6,400 in Thomas's memory which will go towards vital research into SIDS

Claire is taking part in a half marathon alongside four friends, with the group having already raised £6,400 in Thomas's memory which will go towards vital research into SIDS

WHAT IS SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME?  

Sudden Infant Death syndrome describes the unexpected death of a baby or toddler that is initially unexplained.

Cot death was a term commonly used in the past. It has largely been abandoned, due to misleading suggestions that sudden infant death can only occur when a baby is asleep in a cot.

Causes of SIDS may include accidents, infections, congenital abnormality or metabolic disorder.

It is common in babies aged between six and eight weeks. 

For those deaths that remain unexplained, experts believe there are likely to be undiscovered causes. 

'I agreed to do it with friends earlier in the year,' Claire said. 'It was only six months since Thomas had died and I was barely functioning, so it was meant to be a motivator to get me out of the house.'

Claire added: 'Less than 300 babies die from cot death each year, so it doesn't get the focus it used to.

'But The Lullaby Trust fund research into trying to work out what happens, and why healthy babies are still mysteriously dying with absolutely no reason or warning.

'I personally believe there must be a reason. I can’t understand that there is no reason, a healthy baby doesn’t just die.

'I don’t think, for me, I’ll ever get an answer. I can’t be stuck in limbo hoping for that answer - but at least if more research is done, it might help another mother like me.'

Claire will be running the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon this weekend to raise money for The Lullaby Trust. To register interest in next year’s race visit royalparkshalf.com 

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