BISMARCK, N.D. — Whether or not you are a parent, most have likely heard the phrase "you never wake a sleeping baby."
But the story of a young couple from the Bismarck area may change your mind about the adage.
Ryne and Rachel Jungling had waited years to have a baby in their life. After seven years of trying, the University of North Dakota sweethearts were finally going to be parents of twins.
After their birth, twins Linnea and Anders were inseparable.
"They would always look for each other," Ryne said. "They always wanted to be with each other."
Thursday, Jan. 10, started as a normal morning for the family of four. They got up at 5:45 and Ryne went to his high school social studies classroom in Mandan. Rachel — a middle school art teacher in Bismarck — dropped the twins off at a friend's in-home daycare.
"Linea was alert and wiggly," Ryne recalled, but Anders wasn't quite ready to get up for the day.
"Anders was sleepy and he looked up at me, and he gave me the sweetest little smile. And I said 'bye buddy' and he smiled and it was so cute," Rachel remembered.
It would be the last smile Rachel would ever see from her baby boy.
A few hours later she received a call at school. Anders was fighting for his life. Police told Rachel that Anders was found unresponsive in his car seat.
"I asked them if they were going somewhere. It was a couple hours after I dropped them off in the morning," Rachel said.
Anders had never been taken out of the car seat. The daycare provider had left him in it to sleep. Doctors say he had gone close to an hour without oxygen.
"That was really tough — to hear something no parent ever wants to hear," Ryne said.
Anders was flown to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, where doctors said he would likely never wake up. After three days on life support, the parents were forced to say goodbye to their baby boy.
"(It was) definitely the hardest thing we had to do," Rachel said.
Instead of planning Anders' first birthday, which was three weeks away, the Junglings were busy planning a funeral for the baby boy who was just learning to walk.
"We miss having him around. We think about him all the time. We talk about him all the time," Ryne said.
Rachel and Ryne said reliving and talking about Anders' story is hard, but it is something they need to do. They have learned in parenting classes to never to let a child sleep in a car seat that's not in a base, but as they have shared Anders' story over the past few months, they have also learned it is something many parents are not aware of.
"I know it is hard to take them out when they are crying and fussy," Rachel said. "When they finally get some sleep ... that's so nice, but it's not worth losing them and never hearing them cry again."
Carma Hanson, director of Safe Kids Grand Forks, said car seats are designed to sit at a particular angle in their base in the car to help keep the child's head elevated.
Once that car seat is removed from the base, it rocks. Carma says the head of a young baby is disproportionately larger than the rest of the body and those neck muscles are still weak, so if their head falls, the baby could stop breathing in a matter of minutes.
"They are not going to wake up and cry and then pass away," said Carma. "They are just going to fall asleep, stay asleep, run into respiratory distress and then pass away while you don't even know what is happening."
Carma says newer car seats have levels on them, so make sure the bubble is in between the black lines.
Rachel and Ryne Jungling were invited to share their story at the Safe Kids Worldwide conference in Washington D.C. in July.