In April, members of Little Company of Mary Hospital’s (LCMH) Perinatal Loss Committee donated a CuddleCot to LCMH’s Family Birth Center, making LCMH the first hospital in the Chicagoland area to be able to offer this. After each experiencing the tragic loss of a child, Kathleen McShane, Cathy Petraitis and Susie Schultz, members of the hospital’s Perinatal Loss Committee, partnered together on the quest to bring the CuddleCot to LCMH. These three “angel moms” – as trademarked by Kathleen, Cathy and Susie – made this vision a reality on April 24th, 2017.
Coping with the loss of a baby is an incredibly difficult event for parents. The CuddleCot allows the family to spend every moment with their baby, precious moments where every minute counts, during his or her short time on Earth – whether changing a nappy, dressing the baby, taking photographs, or simply just staying close while dealing with their loss. The CuddleCot is used to cool the baby in situ, allowing the baby to remain with the family thereby providing the family with the gift of time. A cooling pad is placed in a Moses basket, crib, pram, or bed and is connected by a specially insulated hose and is quietly cooled using the CuddleCot cooling unit.
“We are so honored to be able to provide this gift to Little Company of Mary’s Family Birth Center and to all of those families that may also have to endure the painful experience of losing a baby,” said Schultz. “When a baby’s life is brief, every moment is precious. The CuddleCot offers families more time with their little one.”
The Perinatal Loss Committee at LCMH was established in 2005. The committee trains all of the nurses on the unit to offer guidance to any parent who have experienced a perinatal loss, either by miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. They offer compassionate guidance and resources to support families during their time of loss. If this type of loss occurs at the hospital, the Family Birth Center Staff steps in to offer immediate emotional, spiritual and physical support to the family. Additionally, a chaplain is called to accompany the family and offer guidance and prayer during the sensitive time. The team works both collaboratively and individually with the family based on their needs. The Pastoral Care Team at LCMH guides the family throughout the process and provides follow-up calls as needed.
With difficult decisions to be made, bereaved parents are guided and supported by the Pastoral Care Chaplain at LCMH in helping them make the necessary burial arrangements required by the Illinois State law in addition to guiding them to the peace that comes when they know their baby has been laid to rest. The Perinatal Loss Committee at LCMH recognizes that this is a painful and grief-stricken time for families and, in recognizing the value of savoring the treasured memories of their little one, the committee began creating a special memorial box for families.
Memory boxes are thoughtfully prepared and contain blankets and hats that were sewed, crocheted and donated by devoted LCMH employees and volunteers. Photos are taken of the baby tenderly wrapped in a blanket and offered to the family. Additionally, the memory box contains an invitation to the annual Cherished Angel Memory Garden service, a support booklet specific to their loss, a letter to mom, and two angels pins honoring the life gone too soon.
If you or someone you know is grieving the loss of a baby or child, Little Company of Mary’s Perinatal Committee encourages reflection at the Cherished Angel Memory Garden, which is located in the east lawn of the Little Company of Mary’s Sisters Convent at 2801 West 93rd Street in Evergreen Park.
Starting in September 2017, LCMH will offer a free support group on the third Saturday of every month for bereaved parents and families with licensed counselor Kathryn Gardner, MA, LCPC. Kathryn provides support and coping tools to women and couples struggling with health, pregnancy, infertility, perinatal loss, postpartum well-being and reproductive concerns. More information to come.