Facebook group helps family turn tragedy into SIDS awareness - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Facebook group helps family turn tragedy into SIDS awareness

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- When Sarah Stoop was expecting her fifth child, she joined the December 2013 Birth Club, a group of mothers all with due dates within that month. After her newborn daughter, Phalen, unexpectedly passed away, this Facebook group became much more than she could have ever expected.

Sarah, Mariah and Rebecca said it's weird going even a few days not hearing from each other.

Monday is also the first time any of them have seen each other face to face, even through a computer screen.

These three women and many others were brought together by the Internet, and even closer by tragedy.

On Feb. 10, Sarah Stoops and her husband Tom lost their 15-week-old daughter, Phalen Thomasina, to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It's a rare condition which leads perfectly healthy babies to die in their sleep. No symptoms. No warning signs.

"It was our fifth kid in this family, and that's when it happened," said Sarah.

She said the Dec. 2013 Birth Club was one of the first places she turned to cope.

"I can't believe I'm going to have to tell this to them. I don't know how it's going to affect them as moms, especially being Phalen as the oldest baby of the group with their babies coming up right in age behind them. But at the same time, it was like, if anyone was going to be there, I knew that they would," she said.

It is that same group of women who have helped raise more than $4,500 for the Stoops family's medical and funeral expenses.

But they're taking that bond even further.

All the way in Jacksonville, Fla., Rebecca took to Facebook to create the SIDS Awareness page in Phalen's honor.

"She was the first baby born in our group, so we knew everything about her," said Rebecca via Skype. "It was kind of like losing a piece of our family."

The page now has more than 400 likes and a message the group hopes to reach many more, while providing the most recent updates on SIDS research.

"I think it's probably something that parents probably go, yep we've heard, and just forget that, it is still very real," Sarah said.

The Stoops have lost a part of their family that will never be replaced. But with the everlasting support of strangers, who have become sisters, it is certain that the memory of Phalen will never fade.

Sarah adds, "it's a group of support. No matter how you look at it."

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