INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – The gift of time is a precious commodity that has no dollar value, yet most people desire more of it and would put it at the top of their Christmas list if it could be bought. In this fast-paced world time is of the essence. But what happens on those occasions when time stands still?
For many in our community this is a sobering experience when they are faced with the loss of a child during pregnancy. The Buggy Bunch experienced this profound grief when one of their own, co-founder Erin Refsland and her husband, Joe, lost their baby girl, Ava, at 35 weeks last January.
What ensued afterwards was an outpouring of love and support from The Buggy Bunch staff and friends to help the family in time of crisis. For Erin and Joe, the grief was unbearable and the process they endured at Indian River Medical Center encompassed learning how very little time they had to spend with Ava before saying goodbye.
“We have the most wonderful job in the world, until it’s not,” said Megan McFall, RN and Director of Women’s Healthcare at IRMC.
She and her staff experience approximately 20-25 stillbirths each year ranging from 16 to 40 weeks’ gestation. That averages almost two per month.
It’s a silent statistic.
As is the case with The Buggy Bunch, when there is an unmet need for families, they seek to fill it, and so they did. In December, The Buggy Bunch donated to IRMC Women’s Healthcare Center, their first Cuddle Cot in honor and in memory of Ava Cecilia Refsland.
The Cuddle Cot is a cooling pad that rests in a bassinet. The quiet and non-obstructive device keeps the baby’s temperature at a level that preserves the body for several days to allow more time for parents to spend with their child.
What families need most when faced with the loss of a child is time. Time to hold their baby they have carried for months but will not take home. Time to love them, take photos of them, show them to family, time to make memories.
“This is something our unit could not have without the help of The Buggy Bunch. This is huge,” says McFall. The Cuddle Cot is used in hospitals around the world and costs $5,000.
“Our hearts break with the families that will use the Cuddle Cot, but know this bassinet will be a blessing to them when the unthinkable happens,” the Refslands said. They added that this donation is part of the healing process. “We are so grateful to The Buggy Bunch and Indian River Medical Center as this Cuddle Cot presentation has brought some healing to us after the stillbirth of our precious daughter, Ava. We hope that when families use the Cuddle Cot and see that it was donated in Ava’s memory, they will know they are not alone and they are loved.”