As I lifted down the framed photo of Reece from the mantle, my oldest son watched me from the couch. I switched the photo from a black and white to a color one.
“I wish I could hold Reece,” my oldest chirped from his perch.
“Yes, I wish I could hold Reece every day, too, buddy.”
“No, I mean, I wish I could hold him when he was born, even though he was already dead.”
I sucked air. How did he know that his not meeting his long-anticipated baby brother was one of my unwavering regrets? Since Reece was born near midnight, it just didn’t make sense to have the boys brought to us so late. To wake them in the middle of the night to drive them an hour to see us and an hour back. I suppose had I known and been firm on it, I would have let them meet him in the morning, although death is not kind to such a newly formed body. Reece was already starting to discolor after holding him close, despite the rotation of ice bags. My oldest son at least knows that Mommy’s heart regrets not having all three sons together for a meeting and a few pictures.
There wasn’t time. With a baby who is born still, there truly isn’t EVER enough time with them. We want our babies to be with us for the rest of our lives, that’s how it’s supposed to work, right? We are supposed to have time with our children for the rest of our time.
When we lost Reece, I posed the question to a group of baby loss parents.
“What would you do with a sum of money left in your child’s name?”
“I’d buy a Cuddle Cot.”
“If it was a few thousand, I would buy a Cuddle Cot and donate it in my baby’s name.”
That led me to what you are probably asking yourself now. What the funkenwankles is a Cuddle Cot? Thank you, Google machine to leading me to an answer. I fell in love with the idea of purchasing one. I asked my husband what he thought. He liked it. I handled as much as I could through email since Cuddle Cots are made in the United Kingdom, not here in the U.S. Ryan got to call the U.K. and he was a bit giddy telling the story about doing so.
A few weeks later, a large box arrived.
The box sat in the hall for a few days. I teared up every time I passed it. That amount of money was supposed to be offered to a living Reece to waste on a trip to Europe. Or to pay for his first half-decent college car. Not this. And certainly not in his memory. But we couldn’t buy him a mediocre car or a trip to see the world. He is gone. What if we could buy time for others whose baby has died?
My husband and I opened it together after the boys went to bed.
A Cuddle Cot is a piece of equipment that works as a cooling device for babies who are born still or have a life-limiting diagnosis and will soon pass. The coolness increases the amount of time parents and visitors can spend with their baby. Here are the pieces.
The square box has a few simple buttons and a fan that pumps and circulates cold water through the tubes and into the two different-sized pads. Depending on the age of your baby, size can really make a difference. Being that Reece was 34 weeks and weighed almost five pounds, he would have needed the larger pad. A baby born at 20 weeks would need a small-sized everything.
With a Cuddle Cot device, parents can keep the baby in their room, eliminating the need for Baby to be sent to the morgue or retrieved from there. This device can extend a few hours with Baby into a few days. How I would have loved to have days with Reece. For those that wished, there would have been time to come and meet him during the daylight hours.
Ryan and I discussed donating the Cuddle Cot to Bellevue Medical Center where Reece was born. Our journey was respected and handled with the utmost dignity. But I had a deep fear that this device would not be used as it needed to be. Babies are being born still more than we are made aware. This device is needed to extend the family time. Time we did not get. A hospital in Omaha has one and due to improper storage, was malfunctioning during its use. No. Collecting dust in a closet somewhere? Dust on my baby’s name? Hell No.
This needed to go into the hands of someone knowledgeable. Someone who knew the power of this machine for family of loss. We have chosen to donate the Reece Michael Cuddle Cot to HEALing Embrace. They were the front-line of support for us when Reece was born. This organization has done ground-breaking work in the area of pregnancy and infant loss. What better way to say thank you than to support them in their work helping families of loss?
His stay was brief, but his impact lasts forever.
For more information about how you can help families of loss through HEALing Embrace, consider making a monetary donation. Nothing good can be done without the support of others. http://www.healingembrace.org