CKHA CuddleCot (Submitted photo)CKHA CuddleCot (Submitted photo)

Grieving parents bring 'CuddleCot' to CK

Parents of stillborn babies in Chatham-Kent are now able to spend more time with their children thanks to a local couple who turned their own devastating loss into an opportunity to give back.

A new CuddleCot recently arrived at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance. The equipment is used in hospital maternity wards to help cool a stillborn baby’s body, preserving it for a day or two longer and allowing grieving parents more time to say goodbye than would otherwise be possible.

The community-led fundraising initiative to purchase the CuddleCot was started by Chatham residents Andrew and Jennifer Foster in 2020, marking the anniversary of the loss of their daughter Claire Rebekah Rose.

At Jennifer's 38-week check-up, the couple received devastating news from the doctor that he couldn't find a heartbeat. After delivery in November 2019, it was determined that Claire had a blood clot in her umbilical cord.

Claire, Jennifer and Andrew Foster. (Photo via GoFundMe) Claire, Jennifer and Andrew Foster. (Photo via GoFundMe)

It was during their time in the hospital that the couple learned about a CuddleCot. To help distract themselves from the loss, the Fosters began researching further researching about the equipment. During that time, they learned the CuddleCot is not a regular tool for hospitals and often has to be donated. The pair decided they would launch a fundraiser in honour of Claire.

“It has been a long road for Jennifer and I to ensure that other local families who go through this kind of tragedy will have the time they need to say goodbye to their little angels,” said Andrew. “Baby loss is a heart-stopping nightmare, but being able to say goodbye properly can start the healing process, and the new CuddleCot will be so helpful to many grieving parents."

The CuddleCot costs around $6,000.

According to CKHA officials, the campaign received strong support from Steve and Kate Peach and the team at Peach Physiotherapy & Wellness Centre.

“Each year our clinic chooses a local organization or program to support, and every time a new patient assessment or treatment plan is successfully completed, we contribute a monetary amount towards our fundraising goal," explained Kate. "When we learned that a bereaved local family was fundraising to honour their stillborn baby girl and to support families experiencing a similarly tragic loss in the future, collectively, and immediately, our team knew that this was the cause we needed to support. We chose to help bring a CuddleCot to Chatham-Kent so that families have access, should they ever need it."

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