FOR most mums, Mother’s Day is one to be treasured forever, however, Nicaela Bier is desperate to forget it.
In May, the 28-year-old was due to celebrate her very first Mother’s Day with her 11-month-old son Ryder at their home in Las Vegas.
But May 8th 2022 became a day that Nicaela would remember forever for all of the wrong reasons when Ryder was killed in their home.
“He was snatched away from me at just 11 months old,” Nicaela says, voice cracking.
“I will never understand why he’s gone, and my heart will be broken forever.”
When Nicaela met Joshua Ross, 32, in November 2019, she was already mum to then-8-month-old daughter Aubreanna.
The couple fell in love and were thrilled to discover they were pregnant the following year.
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“On June 6, 2021, I was holding my son, seeing him in Joshua’s arms and watching Aubreanna give him a kiss. It was just incredible,” Nicaela recalls.
Nicaela was a Recovery Technician, and life as a working mum-of-two proved hectic.
She says: “In April 2022 we’d just moved into a new, bigger house, and there were unpacked boxes everywhere.”
“Life had gotten so crazy that I decided to leave my job. Something told me to take some time, to be home with the kids and to just enjoy them.
“I have such a strong intuition and try my best to follow it as best as I can.” She pauses. “I don’t always though.”
Nicaela is thinking of her sofa.
I will never understand why he’s gone, and my heart will be broken forever
Her voice cracks as she remembers the day that she bought it in March 2021.
“It was a three-chair electric recliner, and each section had a button which controlled it,” Nicaela says.
The mum says she remembers the dart of fear when she got it home, the thought that it could be dangerous for an inquisitive Aubreanna and then-tiny Ryder.
But she pushed the worry away, telling herself not to be silly, that everything would be fine.
And for months it was.
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“Ryder was the happiest baby. He was always smiling,” the mum remembers.
“Adventurous and quick, in April he was almost walking, able to stand if he held onto things.
“Aubreanna adored being a big sister. Ryder was her best friend, and the pair were always having fun.”
As April turned into May, Nicaela was thrilled with her decision to step away from work, with every day free to spend with her children at home.
May 8 2022, Mother’s Day in America, began like a hundred others.
Nicaela says: “It was a Sunday, Joshua’s father Kevin was staying and all of us were hanging out at home. Joshua was going to cook us all dinner so went off to the supermarket.
Making sure that the door was secure and seeing the children were playing quietly, Nicaela made a quick toilet trip.
I felt sick with fear
“I heard what sounded like a toy dropping, but there wasn’t any crying,” she says.
“Then I heard Aubreanna calling for Bubba, which is her name for Ryder, and she came into the toilet looking for him.”
Nicaela wasn’t worried to start off with but joined the hunt, checking rooms and opening wardrobes, calling for her son.
“A few minutes passed and I felt a tiny shiver of worry,” she recalls.
“I checked the front and back doors just in case, somehow, I’d left them open. But I hadn’t, and there was no sign or sound of Ryder anywhere.
“That’s when the panic kicked in.
“As the minutes ticked by and Ryder was still nowhere to be seen, I felt sick with fear. I called Joshua and started to freak out.
“That’s when I looked at the couch and my stomach dropped to the floor.”
It’s impossible to describe how it felt to see Ryder there, lifeless and trapped behind the chair’s metal bar
Everything about the recliner looked normal, but with a growing feeling of dread she pressed the button for the middle recliner. As it slowly opened, she saw him.
“It’s impossible to describe how it felt to see Ryder there, lifeless and trapped behind the chair’s metal bar,” Nicaela says.
“It was like time stood still as I pulled him out, seeing his bluish-purple face.”
Niceala realised with horror that as they’d played, Aubreanna must had opened the recliner, and then closed it without realising that Ryder had climbed inside.
Kevin immediately began CPR as Nicaela frantically called an ambulance. Joshua, who’d abandoned his shopping ran through the door, closely followed by paramedics.
What followed was like a living nightmare for the family.
“As my precious baby was on a ventilator fighting for his life, I swung from fear at losing him to denial – surely this couldn’t really be happening?” Nicaela says.
“Then came the waves of guilt at the fact I’d left the children to go to the toilet, and why had I ever allowed that couch into my house?”
In my heart, I knew that our life would never be the same again
As the days turned into weeks Nicaela juggled visits to Aubreanna, who was being watched by a relative, to hospital vigils by Ryder’s side, watching her beloved boy surrounded by wires and machines.
“My tears never stopped,” she remembers.
“How could they when he was so ill? I was desperate for everything to be okay, clinging to the hope that somehow this could all be fixed. But in my heart, I knew that our life would never be the same again.”
Then they got the news they’d been dreading.
Nicaela explains: “Ryder’s brain injuries were so severe that he wouldn’t be able to walk, breathe, or eat on his own. He would never talk, and they didn’t know if he'd even see. What kind of life is that for our boy?”
So, on May 20, 2022, they made the heartbreaking decision to transfer Ryder to a hospice.
“We visited him every day, and it was so hard to see Ryder like that. He was there in body but not in spirit,” the mum says.
“My joyful, giggling 11-month-old boy, who loved his sister and cuddled his unicorn, had already gone.
“So, when the call came on May 26th that he had passed, I felt glad that Ryder wasn’t suffering anymore. My beautiful boy was finally at peace.”
Life since has been a struggle. while the sofa has gone, the family still lives in the same house.
What happened was just a horrible accident
“I hate being here,” Nicaela says.
“The only reason we bought this bigger place was so the kids would have more space. Now it feels cursed.
“On what should have been Ryder’s first birthday all I could do was stay home and rest. It was just so hard.
“As for Aubreanna, who is now three, she points at his picture and starts to cry, calling for ‘Bubba’.
“I explained that he’s in heaven, that she can talk to him anytime she wants but that he won’t be coming home. How can she possibly understand?”
“I just don’t want her to blame herself. What happened was just a horrible accident.”
As she struggles with the loss, Nicaela tries to find moments of happiness.
She explains: “I look at Ryder’s photos and remember what a happy baby he was.
“He really did enjoy every moment of his life, even though it was so short. To talk about him is my way of keeping his memory alive.
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“You never know how long you’ll have with loved ones, so make the most of every moment.
“Life really can change in an instant.”
Friends are raising funds to support Nicaela and her family – you can donate here.gofundme.com/f/memorial-fund-for-baby-ryder
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