On Monday seven-month-old Karliene Hüygen from Montana, Pretoria, was found lifeless in her crib at her crèche. She was later declared dead in hospital.
Pictures shared on social media by her parents, Chrisma and Hendrik, show a happy, smiling baby – and have now become a sad reminder of a little girl’s passing.
The cause of death hasn’t been determined.
Chrisma tells YOU they don’t blame the daycare centre in any way, which is why they don’t want to mention its name.
“She was lying in her crib. I really believe it could’ve happened at home too,” Chrisma says.
Chrisma dropped Karliene, their youngest, at 7am and 40 minutes later she got the call to say her baby wasn’t breathing.
“The personnel from the school had taken her straight to Montana Hospital but the paediatrician told us she was already dead at that time.”
She rates the school 110% for how they handled the situation, Chrisma says. And though they’re still waiting on the results from the autopsy, she suspects she knows what happened.
“Karliene would sometimes suck her thumb and then vomit. I wonder if she hadn’t choked. But in the end, I think it was just her time.”
Karliene had been one of a set of twins. Her twin died in the womb when Chrisma was just eight weeks pregnant.
“My mom put it so beautifully, ‘Her twin had come to fetch her’,” she says.
The family are religious and Chrisma says their Christian faith is what’s keeping them standing. Their son, Sion (4), says his sister is with Jesus now, Chrisma tells us. But she says Hendrik is struggling to come to terms with it. “Karlienetjie had been the apple of his eye. She was his copy-and-paste – he’s really struggling.”
On Tuesday Hendrik wrote a heartrending message on Facebook. “Karliene, my love, I couldn’t sleep – the hurt inside Daddy’s heart is just too much. You’d have been seven months old today but just a day before you were suddenly taken from Daddy and Mommy. My blued-eyed blossom, you’d given me so much joy in such a short time. How do I say goodbye? Because I can’t. I can’t carry on without you, my love. Daddy loves you so much, my first and only daughter. I’m shattered. I feel like a zombie wandering around in a daze. I don’t know what to do. What do I do now? No day can ever be the same because you’re not there. Daddy will never forget you, I promise. You’ll live forever in my heart. You were a copy and paste of me and I know you’re at God’s feet now, watching over Daddy and Mommy and your brother. Your life on Earth was short but you’re an angel with Jesus now and there, my love, it’s so beautiful. Daddy will hold you again someday and then I’ll never let you go . . . Love you, my blue-eyed blossom.”
A service will be held for Karliene on Valentine’s Day in the Ewige Lig [“eternal light”] church in Montana.