Walking through the hospital doors on the way to the labor and delivery hall is an exciting time for many families. Bringing new life into the world is something a lot of women dream of doing. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings all gather around to experience the joy of a newborn.
However, sometimes God has a different plan. Sometimes the elation of a baby turns to sorrow and grief.
Sometimes, unexpectedly, there is loss and parents end up saying hello and goodbye to their baby all in the same hospital room. The hospital staff often doesn’t have the means or resources to handle the grieving family. Time with the baby is often cut short and opportunities to make a few memories with their child are taken away.
The need to rock, sing to, and hold the baby are events that some mothers often do not get to fulfill in these situations. However, hospitals in the United States have been looking into improving the experience when parents lose their child by implementing the use of an invention, widely used in Europe, called The Cuddle Cot.
The Cuddle Cot has made it possible for parents in their time of deep sorrow to spend a little more time with their baby.
The Cuddle Cot is a trunk that has a cooling device to allow the baby to stay at as normal body temperature as possible while the family spends time with him or her. The cooling water helps keep the baby cool as families say their goodbyes.
Navicent Health Baldwin was lucky enough to be given a Cuddle Cot for the local maternity ward. Kendall Reid and her husband, from Perry, raised money after two tragic losses in order for local hospitals to have access to the device.
“My husband and I lost two children; we lost a daughter, Ruby, in October of 2017 due to unforeseen health issues,” Reid said. “She passed at two days old. Her brother, Jack, was born in May of 2019, but he was a stillborn.”
The Reid family didn’t get to spend a lot of time with Jack.
“We were unable to spend a lot of time with him due to the fact that he was born still,” she added. “The time is just so precious because we don’t get to watch our kids grow up, we don’t get to see those milestones, those memories, so all the memories we make are in that hospital room. So, as much time as we could have had, we wanted it.”
After dealing with the sorrow that came after, the family knew they wanted to do something to not only honor Jack but to help other grieving families.
“We found out about the Cuddle Cots after Jack was born and the Cuddle Cot allows parents to spend as much time as possible with their baby in the hospital room and the baby doesn’t have to go back and forth,” she explained. “It’s giving parents like us more time with their kids.”
The Reids set up several fundraisers to raise money to donate some Cuddle Cots to area hospitals.
“After Jack was born, we asked family and friends to donate instead of sending flowers for his funeral, and we were able to raise enough money for three (Cuddle Cots) after that,” Reid said. “We do a T-shirt fundraiser every year around Ruby’s birthday and we were able to raise enough for two more (Cuddle Cots.)”
To facilitate getting the Cuddle Cots to the hospitals, Kendall connected with an organization called Ashlie’s Embrace.
Erin Maroon started the organization after giving birth to her daughter Ashlie.
“Ashlie was stillborn in 2015 and we spent less than an hour with her, so we had no time, really,” Maroon said. “The Cuddle Cot would have changed everything. We decided to start something to get these in more hospitals.”
According to Maroon, the organization’s goal is “to support grieving parents after stillbirth by having these Cuddle Cots available at hospitals.”
Kendall and Erin’s connection made a lot of good change happen for Baldwin County. There is now a Cuddle Cot at Navicent Health Baldwin to help grieving families.
“Just the fact that they (family and friends) allow me to speak about my kids as if they were here and not in heaven is more than I could ask for,” Reid said.
For more information about Ashlie’s Embrace or to donate, visit www.ashliesembrace.org.