- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - When their daughter Annie Grace was stillborn in March 2014, Aaron and Terra Lange knew they wanted to find a way to honor her short life.

They collected a few thousand dollars by asking friends and family members to donate to an endowment in lieu of flowers after little Annie’s passing, and started researching ways to use the money befitting of the circumstances.

“Just nothing was making sense. Nothing felt right,” Terra said. “Nothing was feeling like the right thing to do until I found this online.”

The Metamora couple were on hand May 9, along with their four other children - Weston, 8, Kyler, 6, Dean, 4 and 1-year-old Quinton - to unveil the CuddleCot they donated to the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Family Birthing Center.

The CuddleCot, a specialized cooling device fitted for use in a bassinet, can allow families to spend more time with a baby who is stillborn or dies shortly after birth. Without such a device, deceased babies tend to quickly deteriorate, and seeing the changes brought on by those natural processes can be distressing to families already confronted with a great loss.

“She was changing very rapidly after birth, so we were not able to spend much time with her at all, maybe an hour or two,” Terra said. “If we had had something like this available to us, we would have been able to be with her the next day.”

The situation severely limited the time they had to interact with the child. Terra and Aaron had hoped to have Annie baptized and wanted some pictures taken by a professional photographer, but that was impossible. Since Annie was born in the late evening hours, only her oldest brother was able to see her.

At the time of Annie’s birth at UnityPoint-Heath Proctor, CuddleCots weren’t even available in the United States. Now a growing number of hospitals offer the made-in-England product to families experiencing the loss of an infant, including Pekin Hospital, Graham Hospital in Canton, and, thanks to the donation by the Lange family, OSF. UnityPoint-Health Methodist is in the process of acquiring one. Almost always hospitals acquire them through a donation, as each costs about $3,000.

Without a CuddleCot, parents usually have just a few hours with a stillborn baby, but with one families could expect to spend 24 hours or even longer with the child, giving more family members a chance to see or hold the baby and parents more time with him or her.

“We don’t want parents to feel rushed with the time they have with their baby,” said Sarah Greer, a perinatal supportive care coordinator at OSF. “We never put a time limit on the families, but this does just help slow the natural processes.”

Greer said already the CuddleCot has been used by two families at OSF. As a high-risk perinatal center, OSF serves about 70 families per year that experience stillbirth or perinatal loss.

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Source: (Peoria) Journal-Star, https://bit.ly/1Xqb2Nt

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