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Keeping their baby’s memory alive while helping others

Emily, Ryan and their two sons next to a Cuddle Cot they donated in memory of their daughter, Charlie

In 2012 and Ryan and Emily Thomas were about to expand their family with a new baby girl named Charlie. The plan was to have their baby at Advocate Condell Medical Center, in Libertyville, IL. Tragically,  something went wrong during delivery and baby Charlie was rushed to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL, where she passed away seven hours later.

“My wife didn’t even have the opportunity to see or hold her, because of the C-section, before Charlie was rushed away,” Ryan says. The hospital did bring Charlie to Emily at Advocate Condell so she could say goodbye, but their lives were changed forever.

Ryan and Emily now have two boys, ages 6 and 3, and are always looking for ways to honor the big sister they never got to know. One of the ways they do that is to donate Cuddle Cots to help other families in similar situations. The first Cuddle Cot was donated to Advocate Lutheran in 2019, the second just arrived at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI.

“Cuddle Cots are used to provide parents with the gift of more time after the loss of their baby,” shares Danielle Starr, RN, perinatal loss coordinator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Aurora Sinai. The Cuddle Cot is a portable bassinet that helps to preserve the baby’s body and give the family more precious moments with their child.

“Parents who are experiencing this terrible loss don’t know what moments are going to be important to them in the future. This allows extended time to hold their baby and take pictures together as a family,” Starr says.

The Cuddle Cot wasn’t available for Ryan and Emily, but helping other families bond with their babies, even for hours or days, is an incredible way to honor their little girl.

“It allows a tangible, physical closeness that we didn’t really have,” Ryan explains. “It’s a way for us to keep Charlie’s memory alive and also help others get through a difficult grieving process.”

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