PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Parting with a stillborn is a parent’s first step in a very difficult grieving process. A relatively new device is trying to help make that tragic experience a little less difficult.
The grief for parents of a stillborn is compounded by having so little time to spend with their baby. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, a Plains Township woman who suffered that terrible loss is trying to turn her grief into a gift for other grieving families in Pennsylvania.
“Nothing can prepare a parent to be prepared for losing a child.” Ashley Mininger knows that pain first hand. The mother of 3-year-old Colton had another son named Brayden who was delivered stillborn in May 2014 at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. The time she shared with Brayden was brief. “Six hours. When once his body started changing that’s when (Wilkes-Barre) General told me it was time to say my goodbyes.”
Ashley later learned about a device called a Cuddle Cot which a non-profit group called Madison’s Miracles provided to her cousin in Florida . “She actually got five extra days with her child who was stillborn.”
Even though Cuddle Cot looks like a regular bassinet, the device uses distilled water that runs from a cooling unit through hoses to a cooling mat placed at the bottom of the specially crafted cradle. Ashley said, “It will maintain the temperature to keep it cool to slow the physical changes down.” It can preserve the baby’s body up to five days.
It may be hard to understand what a Cuddle Cot can mean to a grieving family dealing with a tragedy so sudden and so drastic. But by extending the time from hello to good-bye, it could give more meaning to the child’s life after the loss.
With the help of co-workers, family and friends, Ashley raised $3,000 to purchase a Cuddle Cot which she’s donating to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center. It will include a plaque bearing her late son Brayden’s name. “I’m glad that I can have his name live on and it’s not just… he’s not just passed away. He’s still living on and giving people the gift of time.”
Ashley will present the first Cuddle Cot in Pennsylvania on July 23 to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township. She’s not done raising funds to obtain more Cuddle Cots. She’s holding a bowling fundraiser Saturday, July 21 at Chacko’s Family Bowling Center to purchase a Cuddle Cot for Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.