Local nonprofit organizations, Ashlie’s Embrace and God’s Tiny Angels, donated a CuddleCot™ system to Mercy Medical Center on December 22. The cooling system allows parents and families more time to say goodbye in the event of stillbirth or neonatal loss.
Erin and Anthony Maroon, founders of Ashlie’s Embrace, lost their daughter when she was stillborn at 41 weeks. Erin says she was told, ‘You can keep her with you,’ but ‘What does that mean?’ she thought. Because of the natural changes that occur after death, her small features were changing quickly. After holding her for less than an hour, Erin and Anthony said goodbye to their baby girl.
As Erin prepared to go home, she read an online article about the CuddleCot system, which is used extensively in the United Kingdom. The Maroons started Ashlie’s Embrace to help provide CuddleCots to U.S. hospitals and medical centers. Each year, more than 24,000 babies are stillborn in the Unites States alone.
“With the CuddleCot, you can change your baby, bathe her and hold her,” Erin says. “Losing a child is difficult enough. We want parents to have an option if they have to live a lifetime of memories in just minutes.”
The Maroons met Tiffany and Mike Lokie, president and treasurer of God’s Tiny Angels, at a God’s of Tiny Angels pregnancy and infant loss support group.
“They were passionate about doing something to remember their daughter,” Tiffany says. Mike and Tiffany also know the pain of losing a child. Tiffany delivered their baby stillborn at 34 weeks. Through fundraising efforts, God’s Tiny Angels funded the nearly $3,000 CuddleCot donated to Mercy Maternity Services though Ashlie’s Embrace.
“It’s been a neat and meaningful experience to coordinate this with them,” Tiffany says about donating the CuddleCot system. “We would have definitely used it, if we would have had that option,” says Mike.
“When my daughter was born, she looked perfect,” Tiffany adds. “But by the time family arrived, her color was changing. I wanted my family to have the opportunity to see her the way I did when she was born.”
Linda Heitger, BA, BSN, RN, perinatal loss coordinator at Mercy Maternity Services, says Mercy’s policy has always been to allow the baby to stay with the family as long as they wish to give them the precious time they need. A newborn outfit, donated by Cathedral of Life, and a teddy bear, donated by the Peace Bear Project, are given to parents suffering the loss of their child. Mercy Maternity Services also offers a Perinatal Loss Memorial Service in October, during National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Heitger and Stacy Kovacs, MSN, FNE, RN, director of Mercy Maternity Services, believe the CuddleCot will enhance the compassionate care Mercy strives to provide.
Kovacs says, “I am grateful for this generous donation, which will give parents more time to spend with their child and grieve a painful loss in a loving, comfortable and peaceful environment. That alone is priceless.”
More About God’s Tiny Angels
God’s Tiny Angels is a non-profit Christian organization dedicated to providing continuous support to families who have experienced the loss of an infant child through miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, or infant death and to those facing infertility challenges. The organization offers monthly support groups at the Massillon Family YMCA and annual fundraisers, including its annual Walk for the Angels. For more information, visit www.godstinyangels.org.
More About Ashlie’s Embrace
Ashlie’s Embrace is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing CuddleCots to U.S. hospitals and medical centers. The organization was founded by Erin and Anthony Maroon. The Maroons lost their first child, Ashlie, when she was born stillborn at full term in October 2015. For more information, visit www.ashliesembrace.org.
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