My husband Jerred and I were thrilled to finally be expecting our second baby girl in March 2017. Our first daughter Evelyn (3.5 years old) would often kiss my enormous belly and then announce that she planned to teach her sister “how to dance and play with toys”. By the end of February, everything was ready for our new addition and the pregnancy had been textbook. I was just finishing my last day of work before starting maternity leave when I realized I hadn't felt any movements since that morning. While Jerred put Evelyn to bed, I drove myself to the labour and delivery unit just for the reassurance that everything was ok. But the nurses could not find a heartbeat. I called a friend to stay with Evelyn and Jerred came quickly to the hospital. In an ultrasound, our doctor confirmed our worst fears: that our baby girl had died. It felt like a nightmare. And I would still have to give birth to the baby.
We decided to wait until the next day for the birth to give us time to let the news sink in. After a sleepless night, we went to the hospital for induction. We were greeted by a group of sympathetic nurses, who gently guided us to our room and attended to our every need as the doctor induced me and labour began. Thankfully, it was a relatively easy labour and delivery and our second daughter Faye Amelia was born at 4:12pm weighing 6lbs 15oz. She was gorgeous, with tons of dark brown hair, her daddy's eyes, and the sweetest little heart-shaped face on earth.
Still in shock and completely exhausted, we mustered the energy to make the most of the next four hours with Faye. We gave her a bath, dressed her, took pictures, held and kissed her, took a lock of her dark brown hair, took hand and footprints, looked at her sweet face, and tried to make lasting memories. A nurse finally said, with much tenderness, that it was probably time they took Faye down to the morgue. As she took Faye, the nurse assured us that she "would take very good care of her." I mustered a weak "Bye, Faye" as they took her away.
About 5 hours after birth, we went home from the hospital, as we couldn't stand to be there any longer without Faye. The doctor had wanted me to stay at least overnight before discharging me.
The subsequent weeks were a complete blur but we had much support from family and friends. I began my own research about stillbirth. Early on, I read a family's story where they had access to a cuddle cot and spent over 24 hours with their stillborn baby. It is essentially a cooled bassinet that allows the baby to stay in the hospital room with the family until the mother is discharged or as long as the family wants.
All families experiencing stillbirth are different- while some choose not to see or hold their babies, others do. Many factors may impact their decision. For us, we knew we would have wanted to spend as much time with Faye as possible. Immediately after birth, the shock mixed with exhaustion kept me from making the most of the only time I would ever have with my daughter. If we could have kept her with us longer, we would have had some time to rest without feeling rushed and I would have stayed longer in the hospital to receive the postpartum care I needed.
For those who choose to do so, baby lost families have such a limited time to make memories of their children. The cuddle cot gives them the option of spending as much time with their baby as they want to without being rushed. This may mean having time to have a professional photographer come in to take pictures, invite other family members to come meet the baby, or whatever brings the family comfort.
We received incredibly compassionate and supportive care from the doctors and nurses on the labour and delivery unit. And we feel that providing the Cape Breton Regional Hospital with a cuddle cot is one way that we can further support other families experiencing stillbirth and to do so in Faye's memory. If you would like to contribute whatever amount you can to this initiative, know that it will have a significant impact on families going this tragedy and who would like to spend more time with their babies. I know our story is not an easy one to read, but thank you for reading and for your support! I am more than happy to address any questions you have about this campaign or our story.
Donation Information: The minimum donation is $5 on the gofundme website. We are working with the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation (registered charitable number 130404593RR0001) and the labour and delivery unit manager has approved the purchase and use of the cuddle cot on the unit. Tax receipts can be made available upon request by noting in the comments that you’d like one sent to your email address. You can also donate by credit card by calling the office donation line at 1 (902) [phone redacted], by donating at www.becauseyoucare.ca (note that your donation is for “Cuddles for Faye”), or by sending an e-transfer to Rochelle Hatcher, Manager of Fund Development Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation, at [email redacted].
Below, you can learn more about how and why cuddle cots are used in hospitals:
- Gail Gouthro
- Nicole Granziol
- Ian Hunter
- Peter Sutherland & Tammy Byrne
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