‘Don’t blame yourself’ – heartbroken mom after another baby dies in daycare

It’s been more than a year since her baby boy died while in the care of his day mom. And there’s only one way to get through it, says Maxine Fourie – one day at a time.

Baby Jakes, her little boy with her partner, Jaco Oosthuizen (35), was just 18 weeks old when he died in May last year at a daycare centre in Pretoria. It was only his third day at the centre.

Maxine (33) says when she hears of other parents going through the same nightmare something breaks inside her.

Bloemfontein couple Natasha (33) and Johan (35) Ackerman lost their four-month-old baby boy, JJ, a few weeks ago on his first day at a local daycare centre. The cause of death was given a viral lung infection. Natasha Ackerman told news site Netwerk24 her baby was perfectly healthy when she dropped him off on Monday 2 July. Later that morning she received a call telling her that her baby was dead.

Maxine says baby Jakes was also perfectly healthy when she dropped him off at daycare that fateful May morning. But unlike the Ackermans, Maxine still doesn’t know what caused her baby’s death.

She’s found it hard to come to terms with the tragedy. “Some mornings I didn’t want to get out of bed. In the evenings I’d go outside to cry so I wouldn’t upset Jaco,” Maxine tells us.

“I was angry at God at first but where at first I turned away from Him, I’ve now turned towards Him.”

She says both she and Jaco have gone for counselling, first individually and then together.

“Support each other and don’t take out your pain on your partner,” is her advice to grieving parents.

Maxine says she took a picture of Jakes every day of his short life and she still often looks at the photos. She’s put up pictures of him all over the house.

She also has videos on her phone of him and finds herself smiling at the memory of her little boy every now and again.

She and Jaco had little Jakes cremated and are keeping his ashes “so that he can be with us always”.

“It’s the worst thing that could happen to a person,” Maxine says, adding, “But don’t blame yourself or search for the mistake within yourself.

“The hurt never goes away – you just learn how to live with it.”

She says she used medication such as mild tranquilisers just to get through the day, but she’s since stopped using them.

“That day [Jakes died] I walked out of the hospital and said I’m done having children . . . But now I’m broody again.”