EAST PEORIA- Tazewell County statistics show too many babies are being born prematurely and with low birth weights, so the county's health department is taking action.
Friday it hosted a "Working Together for Healthier Babies" conference as part of its Infant Mortality Task Force. One of the guest speakers was Jessica Gordon.
"My teddy actually weighs 12 pounds because Payton weighed 12 pounds the day before he passed away," Gordon said, hugging a child-sized bear.
Jessica Gordon looked through pictures and other momentos, they're all she has left of her son.
"This is the blanket he was wrapped in the first time I held him," she said, holding it close.
Gordon was there to share her story. She went to breast-feed her 10-month-old baby one night, and fell asleep, accidentally smothering him. Her words were directed at an audience of medical and childcare experts, hoping to put an end to accidental infant deaths.
"It happens when people are breast-feeding in the bed, it happens when people are sleeping with their babies in bed and I didn't realize how often it happened until it happened to me. And I started looking into it and I realized that it happens a lot more than anyone wants to acknowledge," Gordon said.
She said she thought she was doing everything right, putting Payton to sleep in his own bed, laying him on his back. She says the one mistake was breast-feeding in bed, in the middle of the night, as an exhausted new mother.
"Turn on the lights, turn on the TV, set an alarm on your phone to go off after 10 minutes so that you wake up, if you do fall asleep. Just simple things that you can do like that to help yourself stay awake," she said.
Gordon said she hopes her story will prevent other parents from having to go through the same thing.
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