Ask any parent who has ever suffered the loss of a child at birth, “What is the one thing you wished you had, to help with grieving the loss of your child?” Most would say “More time.” More time to hold their child, bond with their child, say goodbye to their child and just time to adjust to losing their child.
Grief, depression, and post-traumatic stress are often quite common in these parents and families, and these emotions can linger for months, or even longer. Jessica and Ryan Kradel and their family know these emotions all too well and want to help others who find themselves in this situation.
Their third child, Henry John, was stillborn at just 21 weeks at Ogden Regional Medical Center. They experienced first-hand the trauma of having so little time to be with their son. Babies who are born premature have very delicate skin, and stillborn premature babies deteriorate quickly, therefore it is necessary to place the baby in the hospital morgue as soon as possible until a funeral home can receive the baby.
“Sending him to the morgue overnight was so hard,” Jessica said. “We have so very little time to hold, be with and bond with our baby—once your baby is handed over to the funeral home—that’s all we get. We will never be able to physically hold our Henry again. We hold him every day in our hearts! If we could have held him longer we would have! Afterwards we kept thinking that we would like to do whatever we could to give families just a little more time to prevent them from having to go through this.”
In discussion with friends and other mothers of stillborn babies, Jessica learned about a device called the “Cuddle Cot.” This is an in-room cooling unit that is about the size of a small humidifier and can be disguised inside a bassinet or blanket. Cuddle Cots help to preserve the body of a deceased newborn for a more prolonged period giving grieving parents a chance to bond with their babies—to love and hold them, take photos, etc. Cuddle Cots can provide parents more time to come to terms with their loss and to gain closure. These devices are used extensively in Britain, and are slowly becoming more common in the United States.
Like most hospitals, Ogden Regional Medical Center did not have a Cuddle Cot when Jessica had Henry.
While the Kradel family left the hospital with arms full of stuff other families had donated, they left without the one thing they wanted most—more time with Henry. This was when the family decided they needed to find a way to help future parents of stillborns and infant loss get just a little more time.
They decided to raise money to purchase and donate a Cuddle Cot for Ogden Regional Medical Center in Henry’s honor. Cuddle Cots cost about $4,000 each so they set their goal at that amount. Jessica set up a fundraising Facebook page called “Hugs from Henry” and posted videos explaining why they were doing this in June of 2020. They also included an option to order “Hugs from Henry John” shirts. Their goal was to raise enough money to buy the Cuddle Cot by February 6, 2021, which will be Henry’s first birthday.
To the Kradel family’s great surprise, they had reached their goal by the first week of August, 2020.
“It was amazing. You put your heart out there and tell people why, and they step up to help.”
The Kradel family was able to present the Cuddle Cot to our hospital on September 23. We are so grateful for their donation and blessed to be able to offer “a little more time” to families at Ogden Regional.