An Indiana group is trying to raise money to place technology in hospitals that would give families more time to spend with their stillborn children. Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows about 1 percent of all babies in the U.S. are stillborn.
The devices are called Cuddle Cots.
Technology Gives Parents Gift Of Time
There are few possessions the Kreitzer family holds more dear than the mementos of the brief time they spent with their daughter.
“This bear is what we call our Alaynna bear,” Maria Kreitzer says as she points to a teddy bear wearing a big, pink bow. “And she weighs five pounds, just as much as Alaynna, her birth weight.”
A little more than a year ago, Maria delivered her daughter at Reid Health in Richmond. Alaynna was stillborn.
“Our pregnancy was uncomplicated,” Maria says. “We had no warning signs. We had no idea.”
Alaynna was the first baby born at Reid who used what’s called a Cuddle Cot. A company based in the United Kingdom developed the technology. The rectangular, blue unit uses a hose to cool a large pad that’s placed in the bottom of a bassinet. It allows families to spend up to 48 hours with their stillborn babies after they’re delivered.
“It’s just so important to get an opportunity to meet her and hold her and examine her and feel her,” Maria says. “We changed her outfit several times, she was held by many family members and friends. And that’s absolutely something we can never get back.”
Mother Forms Non-Profit To Expand Use Of Cuddle Cots
Brittany Irvine’s son was also stillborn. She founded the Indiana Cuddle Cot Campaign as a result.
“I instinctively told my husband, ‘We’re doing it.’” she says. “We have to create something and help others.”
Irvine’s goal is to get a cuddle cot in every hospital in Indiana. But, the starting the conversation isn’t always easy.
“Nobody wants to talk about a dead child. Nobody wants to talk about early miscarriages, and it needs to be talked about,” Irvine says.
“Nobody wants to talk about a dead child. Nobody wants to talk about early miscarriages, and it needs to be talked about.”
Bereavement experts say it’s important to talk about losses and give families different options for handling their grief.
“Even though there is no steadfast rule that families can only have their children with them x number of hours, families feel rushed,” says Registered Nurse Stephanie Nicholson
That’s why families like the Kreitzers are working hard to raise money to place more Cuddle Cots throughout the state. They recently celebrated what would have been Alaynna’s first birthday.
“We had about 75 people in attendance and in lieu of birthday gifts we raised money for the Indiana cuddle cot campaign,” Maria says.
There are 14 Cuddle Cots throughout the state. The Indiana Cuddle Cot Campaign helped place three of them: one each at Reid Health Richmond, Jay County Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children. The organization pays about $3,000 for each unit.
Maria and Irvine are both pregnant and expecting what they refer to as their “rainbow babies” later this year.
“After you have a loss, your children come up with a new name,” Irvine says. “So, if you have a child before your loss, those are your sunshine babies. And, then you have your angel baby and that’s your loss. And, any baby after your loss is called a rainbow baby because it’s your rainbow after your storm.”