BOSTON (CBS) — It was October of 2017. Four months earlier than expected.
Arianna and Brad Desilets, of Scituate, had been pregnant with twins. Boys. They had already picked out names: Theo and Max.
She went into labor just shy of 21 weeks and both boys had died before she could deliver them.
“We never even thought about that at all,” Arianna told WBZ’s Paula Ebben and Liam Martin. “When you found out you’re pregnant, you’re excited; you’re a little nervous, but you don’t expect it’s going to end in that way.”
Shortly after the delivery, as Arianna and Brad began the long process of coping with the loss, the nurses at South Shore Hospital brought in a device. It looks much like a bassinet, and it’s called a Cuddle Cot. It’s designed for exactly the devastating scenario in which this young couple had found themselves. The device keeps a stillborn baby, or a child who dies shortly after birth, cool long enough to allow their grieving parents time to say goodbye.
“What it allowed us to do is keep the boys in the room with us longer and experience time with them,” Brad said. “Instead of a matter of hours or minutes, we could be with them and say goodbye to them and spend those minutes you’ll never get back with them.”
These devices, Arianna and Brad soon learned, are not standard for maternity wards and NICU departments in the United States. They’re considered a comfort tool, instead of a medical tool, and many hospitals simply don’t have them in their budgets. They cost about $2,700 apiece.
For parents of stillborns at those hospitals, the grieving process can be much more painful, Arianna and Brad argue. The baby often must be moved to the morgue shortly after death.
“You don’t think about it being a more traumatic moment, but it truly is when the baby has to come in and out of the room,” Arianna said. With this cooling device, “You get that time to memorize your baby’s face and fingers and toes,” Arianna said. “This is the only time that you’ll have with your child. So it’s truly important that — whatever the parents choose — they get to make that choice.”
The couple has become so passionate about making this option available for other parents, in fact, that they started a fundraising campaign, titled, “Time to Cuddle”. They’ve raised more than $7,000 and just this week delivered a Cuddle Cot to Beth Israel Deaconess and Mass General hospitals. You can find that fundraiser here.
“It was wonderful,” Arianna said of delivering those cots. “It’s the next step in Max and Theo’s legacy, so we’re grateful.”
“It gives our sons a name moving forward,” Brad said. “The friends and family who’ve donated to the campaign made it all happen.”