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The Gift of Time, Cuddle Cot donation for The Medical Center of Bowling Green


As 2017 quickly comes to a close, I've been reviewing my goals for 2017 and many of the goals I set were for my volunteer work with families suffering the loss of an infant. In working with families during and after their loss, I've been able to identify specific needs that our community and local hospitals have and search for ways to fill those needs in order to help families heal.

Stillbirth effects 1 in every 160 expectant families.

1 in 160.

Those numbers are staggering.

According to recent statistics, those numbers equate to approximately 26,000 babies of 20+ weeks gestation or more born sleeping, per year.

I officially began my volunteer work with families in 2011 when I became a volunteer photographer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, not long after, I saw a quote from Sandy Puc, professional photographer and Co-Founder of the organization Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, that has been very special to me and has guided me and my heart on this volunteer journey. Sandy said, referring to the work that we do with NILMDTS.

" We can't change what is happening to these families ... But we can change the way they heal

for the rest of their lives."

I took those words to heart and set out to find ways to help families in our community begin and continue their journey to healing.

I researched endlessly, online, to find any and all information and resources to help families. In my search, I found the solution to one of our biggest challenges and that was time. How do you give families time when their baby has already passed, or will soon after birth?

For many years and in some cases still to this day, it was common practice to not allow parents to see, hold or cuddle their babies if they had passed. They were discouraged from arranging a funeral and weren't given an opportunity to grieve their loss. Some were simply told to "forget it, move on and/or try again." The thought process was that by not acknowledging the loss it would simply just go away.

It doesn't and it won't.

Fortunately, times have changed and while we still have a long way to go to break the stigma surrounding infant loss, small steps are made every day. Every time you do something as simple as speak the name of a baby lost or hug a family who has suffered a loss to let them know you are thinking of them .. you begin to make that positive change. Studies have shown that parents who have an opportunity to bond with their babies are able to have a more healthy healing process. Data on the effect of holding and spending time with babies after perinatal death largely identifies positive psychological outcomes for the parents. Sadly, the time that families are able to spend with their precious little ones is often cut short due to the fact that hospital rooms are typically warm and if their tiny body is not kept cool, their condition begins to deteriorate quickly.

A solution to this issue has been made available by Flexmort in their creation of the Cuddle Cot.

The Cuddle Cot is a cooling device that literally gives the family the gift of time. Time to allow the family to form an important bond with their baby; whether changing their diaper, dressing the baby, taking photographs or simply just staying close and this helps families in dealing with their loss.

At the end of 2016, I started saving money through my photography work with the intent to purchase a cuddle cot for The Medical Center, as they have the largest need in our area, and then for TJ Samson and I hope to, eventually, have one that can travel, if needed.

Throughout 2017 we were able to put back $1600.00 of the $3000.00 needed to purchase the first Cuddle Cot. I am happy to announce that with the support of the staff at The Medical Center and

The Med Center Health Foundation, they were able to match the contribution made by myself and my husband and we were able to purchase the very first Cuddle Cot for our community.

Our donation is made on behalf of the families that I've personally served in our community

and in honor and memory of their precious little ones.

Baby Myles

Baby Allison

Baby Kason

Baby Vyktoria

Baby Osmaro

Baby Layla

Baby Doug

Baby Asher

Baby Addison

Baby Tyler

Baby Emmanuella

Baby Lamont

Baby Cullen

Baby Lillian

Baby Jaeley

Baby Emma

Baby Jovie

Baby Zoe

Baby Kenzleigh

Baby Iva Rose

Baby Lillian

Baby Thang

Baby Mckinzy

Baby Paisleigh

Baby Quinton

Baby Lennon

and

All Babies Gone Too Soon

My heart is so full knowing that the Cuddle Cot will be available to families. My hope is that there will never be a need for the Cuddle Cot, but the peace of knowing that it is there if it's needed is immeasurable.

If you'd like to donate to help purchase a Cuddle Cot for TJ Samson please visit the gofundme link here

Cuddle Cot Donation for TJ Samson

There's so much more that's happened this year in our community and for our families ...

like Teeny Tears clothing wrapping our tiniest of babies from 14 weeks up in love, dignity and modesty, that are now available in our hospitals

and bereavement doulas trained through Stillbirthday to help bereaved families through birth and postpartum

and the Glory Baby Ministry to help families by creating BEAUTIFUL burial garments from donated wedding dresses

and our more established organizations

Amazing Angels Inc. an organization that donates headstones to families who have lost an infant.

and our Steps for Samuel event that grows every year, in October, to honor and remember our sweet babies gone too soon.

The trees that Steps for Samuel dedicates in our local parks to remember our babies, gone too soon.

There's more plans for expanding resources in 2018!

Thank you to all of the organizations in our community who wrap these families in love and support them through their loss.

"We can't change what is happening to these families

but we can change how they heal, for the rest of their lives."

If you'd like more information on how you can help families in our community. Feel free to reach out! There's many different volunteer opportunities available!

#cuddlecot #NILMDTS #GloryBaby #AmazingAngelsInc #StepsforSamuel #McCoyCounselingCenter #TeenyTears #Stillbirthday

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Samantha Steen Photography | Maternity, Birth and Newborn Photographer Doula. Lactation. Education.| Bowling Green, KY