There are few things more rewarding for a parent than watching your children grow up. Kyrstyn Johnson could certainly relate to that, as she was a proud mother of three. However, in April 2018 she suffered a devastating tragedy when her youngest child, Mayson, passed away in his sleep.
A resident of Boise, Idaho, Kyrstyn gave birth to twins in October 2015, naming them Lilah Nicole and Violet Ann. Unfortunately, the girls spent close to a month in a neonatal intensive care unit following their birth, as they weighed only a few pounds each.
With the twins now fully recovered, Kyrstyn received some big news ahead of Christmas in 2016, discovering that she was pregnant with her third child. Close to nine months later, the mom gave birth to Mayson Michael on August 22, 2017, following a grueling labor that lasted for more than 15 hours. Despite that pain, though, she noticed something about her son straight away.
“From the moment he came into this world, Mayson was a bright light with the biggest smile on his face all the time,” Kyrstyn wrote on Love What Matters. “He loved life and learning how to do new things. He loved to follow his sisters around the house and see what they were up to.”
“He always wanted to be a part of what was going on in the world around him, because he loved it so much,” Kyrstyn continued. “I saw a bright future for him. I saw it all in this bright, amazing, happy and healthy little boy.” Tragically, though, that all changed on the morning of April 16, 2018.
Kyrstyn’s husband Trevian was in charge of Mayson that morning, as Kyrstyn was visiting the DMV along with one of her pals. However, the 21-year-old then received a worrying phone call about her baby. “My mom goes, ‘Kyrstyn, you need to get home,’” she told People in September 2018. “‘It’s Mayson, there’s an emergency with Mayson.’”
Initially, Kyrstyn believed her son had been an accident of some sort, but that wasn’t the case. “She goes, ‘Trevian went to wake [Mayson] up, and he was unresponsive. He was not breathing,’” Kyrstyn continued. “‘This is very serious, he has not taken a single breath or heartbeat since the [paramedics] arrived.’”
With that in mind, Kyrstyn quickly made her way home, arriving just as the ambulance was taking Mayson to the hospital. At that point, she leaped out of her car and joined the rest of her family as they followed the paramedics. When they reached the hospital, the mom then headed towards the ER.
“I ran into the emergency room,” Kyrstyn told People. “I knew what they were going to tell me. The doctor looked at me and said, ‘I’m sorry.’ I was immediately sick, I started throwing up on a trash can. I felt every piece of my soul crack.”
“They took me into the hospital room that [Mayson] was in, and I remember touching him, and it was the coldest thing I have ever felt,” Kyrstyn added. “He wasn’t this warm baby who cuddled me anymore. I could feel this part of my soul just didn’t exist anymore. He was lifeless.”
The coroner subsequently carried out a number of tests on Mayson, hoping to discover how he passed away. In the end, it was found that Kyrstyn’s son had suffered sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
“He wasn’t sick,” Kyrstyn explained. “He was a perfectly healthy baby. It’s heartbreaking. There was no reason for him to leave me. He had been here long enough to make a big impact. He just didn’t wake up. I promised my son I’d protect him from all things, but I couldn’t protect him from death.”
During the months following Mayson’s passing, Kyrstyn struggled to cope with her grief. Indeed, the mom’s mental health had been severely affected by the tragedy, but she found it increasingly difficult to get the help she needed. With that in mind, the 21-year-old then decided to open up about her loss.
“I tried to seek treatment, something more invasive than just counseling,” Kyrstyn told People. “I decided to try and find a healing center that focuses on trauma and grief and how to get through these things. But unfortunately with the insurance I have, that’s been my biggest hurdle: finding an appropriate and healthy way to grieve when I have very limited resources.”
“That’s why I’m sharing my story,” Kyrstyn added. “For me, the only thing I know how to do – because I can’t get the treatment I need – is to just talk about it.” On that note, the Idaho native then touched upon another reason why she decided to speak about Mayson’s passing, which related to an emotional photo shoot.
As Mayson’s first birthday approached in August 2018, Kyrstyn wanted to do something special. So the 21-year-old looked for a photographer to pull off an “angel baby photo shoot” for her son. After finding someone for the project, she was then photographed commemorating his birthday, alongside his twin sisters.
“After seeing these photos, I realized that maybe, just maybe, I can take my experience, educate and end the stigma of infant and pregnancy loss,” Kyrstyn wrote on Love What Matters. “To show other bereaved parents they are not alone. Everyone says they are sorry and they are there for you, but time moves so quickly and those people move on.”
“Yet you feel stuck and alone, so very alone,” Kyrstyn added. With that in mind, she encouraged the friends and family of any bereaved parents to stay in contact with them, as that would help in the long run. “We will never forget our pain, and all we ask is that you don’t forget us,” the mom said.
Although that advice will no doubt help a lot of people, Kyrstyn herself is still working through the grieving process. Indeed, while her husband is there for her, the 21-year-old can’t help but think about Mayson and the bond they formed in those brief eight months together.
“Mayson was this very bright child,” Kyrstyn told People. “[My favorite thing about him] was his soul. He was smiling from the moment he was born. We had a mother-son connection, we had this bond. He was just so happy. Now I feel empty, but I know I will be there to hold him again.”