In late July 2015, under the care of the same two nurses during her last pregnancy, Marin General Hospital patient Jessica Harrison gave birth to a healthy baby boy weighing 7.1 lbs. named Lleyton.
While 2015 will be remembered as a happy year that brought Lleyton into the Harrison family, their loss in 2014 will never be forgotten.
Her name was Adeline Rose Suzanne Harrison.
In February 2014, at 39 weeks of gestation, Jessica had a planned delivery of her stillborn baby. With the help of the hospital’s midwives and dedicated team of nurses, Jessica treasured the next few hours in the room with her baby girl, though it felt far from enough.
“People are used to elderly people passing, but when it comes to infants, people don’t understand the tragedy,” Jessica said. “It can be a very silent and isolating time.”
Stillbirth is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, stillbirth affects more than 25,000 families each year. Research by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that one in 160 pregnancies result in stillbirth. A majority of stillbirths occur before labor, though a small percentage happens during labor and delivery.
In her grief following Adeline’s passing, Jessica realized not all mothers are given the same hours to spend with their children in the wake of a stillbirth. It was then that Jessica decided to help other mothers suffering from a stillborn birth, honoring the memory of Adeline, as well as the respect and unconditional support received from Marin General Hospital.
“I felt there was something more we could do and it’s a very silent tragedy to go through that people don’t talk about,” Jessica said.
Jessica reached out to friends and family through email about a tribute to her daughter. With the help of loved ones, Jessica was able to raise funds for the Flexmort CuddleCot™, which she planned to donate to Marin General Hospital as a gift for receiving quality care when delivering Adeline.
The CuddleCot is a piece of medical equipment that uses a cooling system to slow the natural changes that occur in babies that have passed, prolonging the amount of family time and helping with the bereavement process during an experience that can be both traumatic and devastating.
Used across the world to help parents who are suffering the loss of a baby, the CuddleCot allows families to provide after-death care to their families.
After receiving excellent medical care and bereavement support from Marin General Hospital’s private midwife practice and team of nurses, Jessica made the decision to donate the CuddleCot to the hospital. In addition to being a patient at the hospital, Jessica serves as a representative and liaison between Marin General Hospital and the March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization supporting programs and research working to end premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality.
The donation signifies Jessica’s determination to give parents and families more time to spend with their newborns in the face of stillbirth. She also hopes the donation will promote stillborn awareness, as stillbirths are often a topic seldom discussed.
Although the emergence of the CuddleCot in the West Coast is still in progress, Jessica hopes more maternity programs in hospitals will embrace the device and its gift of time to grieving parents.