Published: 12:00, 08 May 2019
| Updated: 13:07, 08 May 2019
At her 20-week scan, Stacie Goddard was told her baby would not survive because he had no kidneys, no bladder and his lungs were not forming.
She gave birth to her son, Peter, after 22 weeks. He weighed just 420 grams - the same as a can of baked beans - when he was born and was small enough to fit in the palm of her hands.
For the last three years, Stacie, 24, from Cliftonville has been fundraising to buy a cuddle cot for grieving Thanet parents who have lost a child.
Stacie has raised £1,800 to fund the piece of equipment which helps give parents extra time with their babies after losing them to miscarriage, stillbirth or in the early days after birth.
She handed over the special cot to Gore Brothers Funeral Directors in Margate.
Peter, who was Stacie’s first child, was born at the QEQM in Margate on July 1, 2016
Stacie says the grief she felt after losing Peter spurred her on to help others who have experienced similar tragedy.
She said: “He lived for a little while and passed away in my arms as we were talking to him.
"It was how we wanted it and it’s a nice memory, not a horrible memory.
“I just needed to do something with my life. I had an empty void.
"For me that was helping other people who had been through what I’d been through, any form of child loss.
“I’ve done a lot of awareness for pregnancy and infant loss and thought I need to do something more to help my local community.”
Stacie, who now has two other children, dyed her hair "Peter Pan bright green" in memory of her son, who was named after JM Barrie’s character, and also raised the cash through organising online pageants, raffles and setting up a fundraising page.
“It’s been a big effort from quite a few people and together we’ve just been able to get something amazing,” Stacie says.
She believes having access to a cuddle cot when her son died would have helped her to come to terms with her loss.
She said: “We didn’t have access to a cuddle cot when we lost my son, we had just 16 hours with him.
"If I had had access to this more of my family members could have met him, I could’ve brought him home and bathed him and dressed him.
“I had Peter on the labour ward so when I was spending time with my dead baby, I had women giving birth to living children and all I could hear was children crying and that was traumatic.
“If I had a cuddle cot I could have gone home like a normal mother would.
"If I could have been normal just for a couple of days it would have helped the grieving process a lot.
“I tried for Peter for four years and to have your whole life planned and have that snatched, there’s nothing you can do.
"In his memory, with his third birthday coming up, I hope to give families that opportunity we didn’t have.”
Alex Gore, company director at Gore Brothers, says they are the first funeral directors in Thanet with a cuddle cot and he hopes it will be used to comfort grieving families.
He said: “By having our own cuddle cot we can offer local families the gift of extra time with their baby in our branches or in the comfort of their own home.”
Mr Gore added they do not offer a charge for child funerals and will not charge families to use the cuddle cot.
A cuddle cot can be used in a Moses basket or baby's crib and is a cooling mattress which stops the child’s body deteriorating.
It works by pumping cold water into insulated pillows which the baby can be laid on and wrapped up to keep them cold.
"We didn't have access to a cuddle cot when we lost my son, we had just 16 hours with him... if I had had access to this more of my family members could have met him" - Stacie Goddard
They can give parents extra hours or even days to take their baby home.
Stacie says she feels being able to do "normal" things with a baby can be vital to the grieving process.
Parents can take child out for short walks and dress them and give them a bath just like parents with a living newborn would do when they arrive home for the first time.
Pauline Harris, whose charity Cariad Baby Gowns has funded 25 cuddle cots since 2017 used by funeral homes around the country, says they can also help grieving parents explain what has happened to a baby’s older siblings.
She said: “You can take the baby home and say they are sleeping and not going to wake up so the next generation don’t grow up with the taboo.”
Mrs Harris, who lives in west Wales, set up the charity after experiencing a miscarriage, stillbirth and an ectopic pregnancy in the 1970s and 1980s.
Her son was stillborn but buried in a communal grave without any opportunity for her to see or hold him.
“I understand what ladies are going through. I asked to set up a charity because there were very few support services,” she said.
“Our main aim is to get as many cuddle cots out in as many areas as possible so every parent has the opportunity to use one.
“We’ve had parents who had up to eight days extra - it’s about that gift of time.
“I travel all over the country doing this. It’s my baby I didn’t have and I make sure women don’t have the same experience I had.”
More by this authorMatt Leclere
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