Delivery rooms are usually noisy places, filled with the cries of newborns and the happy sounds of families welcoming a new arrival. But for the more than 23,000 families who experience stillbirth each year, there are no first cries or celebrations. Only silence.
"It's heart-wrenching for everyone," says Amanda Forman, nurse manager for The Baby Place at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea. Each year, her staff helps a handful of families say hello and goodbye to their newborn children. They often have just hours to do so, due to changes to the infant's body after being stillborn. But as KAAL-TV reports, a gift from the community — called a CuddleCot — aims to extend the time these families have together.
The device is "essentially a cooling blanket, giving parents more time to grieve after the death of a baby," according to KAAL. It's a gift that means a lot to people like Paula and Matt Twedt. Their daughter, Morgan, was stillborn when she arrived in June 2014. "When you're saying goodbye forever, every minute you have with them counts so much," Paula told the station in an earlier story promoting efforts to raise funds for the device. "If we would have had the CuddleCot, we would've been able to keep her longer."
Lynne Port has led the fundraising efforts in Albert Lea for the CuddleCot, setting up a Go Fund Me account and hosting a fundraising walk dubbed Strides of Love. "What a great way to help somebody out on probably the worst day of their life," she told KAAL. She first learned about CuddleCots through her work as a volunteer photographer with an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (which we featured previously) that provides remembrance photography at no charge to families who have lost a baby, often to stillbirth.
Lynne's own daughter needed CPR for several minutes after birth, and she told the station that "it was very real that we might not be taking a healthy baby home." She calls the CuddleCot "the ultimate pay it forward." Other families will "benefit from having more time with their child because" the community "had the forethought to raise money," she tells the station. Amanda Forman, the nurse manager in Albert Lea, agrees. "Many of the people who donated have been touched by pregnancy loss and want to do something to help the next family that experiences a loss," she tells us. "It's so heartwarming that this is a gift that comes from the community it will help."
Lynne is continuing to raise funds and hopes to purchase more CuddleCots for area hospitals. You can learn more about her efforts on her Go Fund Me page.
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