After years of unexplained infertility, Shanna Patterson was finally pregnant at the end of 2009 and happily making plans for the birth of her baby girl. She never expected to have to say hello and goodbye to her perfect little baby Allie when she was stillborn at 18 weeks on January 30, 2010. The nurses at Utah Valley Hospital bathed Allie and brought her to Shanna and her husband, Verle, to give them some time to hold her. Shanna remembers cherishing those hours with her baby, but she also remembers the upsetting changes Allie’s tiny body was going through as the hours went on. A sense of guilt was added to the Patterson’s deep grief at the loss of their child, guilt at not wanting to continue to cuddle Allie.
Sara Peterson, a ultrasound technician at Mountain Point Medical in Lehi, had a similar experience when she gave birth to her baby, Ivan, stillborn at 36 weeks. Nurses had to periodically take Ivan away from his heartbroken parents to keep his body cold. There are few things that could have comforted Sara at such a terrible moment, but she knew there had to be a better way to say goodbye to precious children who are stillborn.
Shanna and Sara both learned of the Cuddle Cot after they had gone through the traumatic experience of losing their babies and not having much time to say goodbye in the hospital. The Cuddle Cot is a cooling pad that can be placed in a bassinet, allowing stillborn babies to be in the room with their parents and family for as long as the family wants and needs. Cuddle Cots are becoming more common in hospitals around the country, but they are expensive and have to be donated. Shanna Patterson has started a fund to get a Cuddle Cot at Utah Valley Hospital, which can be found at www.gofundme.com/alliesdayoflove. Sara Peterson decided to donate a Cuddle Cot in memory of Ivan to Mountain Point Medical Center and it will be there in the next two weeks.
Both Shanna and Sara have turned their grief into action. Shanna and her family call Allie’s birthday, January 30th, “Allie’s Day of Love.” Family and friends are invited to do something kind in memory of Allie on that day, even if it’s just giving extra hugs to the people they love. The Patterson family takes blankets and toys to the hospital nursery on Allie’s Day of Love. “I love knowing that Allie’s life mattered, that she’s having a positive effect on people still,” says Shanna.
Sara Peterson feels better helping others and getting her mind off of herself and her grief. As a ultrasound technician, she has seen the losses couples go through. “It happens. It’s not something anyone likes to think about.” Giving the gift of time to parents of stillborn babies through the Cuddle Cot is a comfort to Sara Peterson and her family.