At 14 weeks of pregnancy, Ashley Agnitch received devastating news. Her unborn child, Greta Lynn, had a genetic disorder called Edwards Syndrome, and she wasn’t expected to survive pregnancy, labor, or delivery.
Miraculously, baby Greta was born on April 12, 2017, and she had the chance to spend five hours with her family before passing. This devastated Ashley but, as a nurse, she was grateful for the time she did have with Greta, something many families who lose newborns don’t get.
Before giving birth, Ashley researched resources for families who have recently lost a newborn. She came across Cuddle Cots, something that was unavailable to her and many other parents.
“Bereaved families often experience early separation as their baby is taken to the morgue to slow the natural process that occurs after death … The Cuddle Cot is a cooling bassinet that provides the gift of time as it allows the baby to room-in with the family,” Ashley said.
After Greta passed, Ashley felt called to leave her position as nurse liaison to a position in the Labor and Deliver unit at Marian Regional Medical Center. She quickly discovered just how great a need there was to better support families going through infancy loss.
“I wanted to give local families precious time to bond with their babies,” she said. “We found out early on that Greta wouldn’t survive, but not everyone is given that time to prepare.”
In order to do just that, Ashley worked hard to raise enough money to equip two local hospitals with Cuddle Cots.
“Cuddle Cots offer both time and opportunity — the chance for families to have photos taken, offer a blessing over the baby, perform a baptism, and enable friends and family to meet the child,” she said. “You will never get those moments back; that’s all you have. To give them precious time to make those beautiful memories is so important to me.”
Her colleagues, family, and friends were incredibly supportive of her mission and helped her raise more than $12K on GoFundMe in a little over four months. Since then, Cuddle Cots are already being used to better support grieving families.
“My goal is to help as many families as I can,” Ashley said. “Through this process, we have learned that grief and joy can coexist. To allow parents the time to process loss, but still be able to find joy, laugh, smile, and be in the moment, gives me great happiness.”
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