Harris helps grieving mothers with CuddleCot donation
Published 4:58 pm Friday, July 21, 2023
By James W. Robinson
Sentara Obici Hospital staff is filled with gratitude as Smithfield resident Victoria Harris’ donated a new CuddleCot to help mothers grieving the loss of a child at birth.
A dedication ceremony was held Tuesday, June 13 at the hospital with the Obici staff members joining Harris, her husband Brandon and their daughter Vivian Rose. The cot honors Harris’ late daughter Rose Harris who was stillborn on Nov. 12, 2019.
Owner of women’s boutique Glitterfield Designs in Smithfield, Harris said that the CuddleCot had a huge impact on her and her husband and that it “holds a very special place” in their hearts.
The CuddleCot is a unique cooling device that helps grieving parents to have the gift of time with their baby who has died, according to the company’s website.
Harris reflected on the tragedy that inspired her to take action for other grieving mothers.
“After I delivered my daughter via cesarean, I was unfortunately admitted to the intensive care unit due to an unknown uterine tumor and blood loss,” she recounted. “While in the intensive care unit, I was unconscious for a few days. If it was not for the hospital having a Cuddle Cot available, my husband and I would have never been given the time with our daughter that we desperately needed.”
Following the loss, Harris said she needed an “outlet” to move forward — it was crafting. Eventually, her passion for crafting transformed into creating graphic tees and monogram items and soon, she was able to open her clothing store Glitterfield Designs in 2020.
Following the store’s opening, Harris would undertake a small t-shirt fundraiser to support those suffering from pregnancy and infant loss. In 2022, Harris decided to take the fundraising a step further.
“The goal last fall was to donate a CuddleCot to a local hospital that perhaps wasn’t equipped with one. With the help of many amazing local businesses, I was able to gather gift certificates, merchandise and services to make a raffle basket to raffle off,” she said. “The proceeds, along with donations, is what ultimately we used to purchase the CuddleCot.”
Through her fundraising work, Harris was able to raise $6,000 to $7,000 for the purchase of a new CuddleCot for Sentara Obici Hospital. She reached out to them for the next steps and learned that every hospital was already equipped with a cot. Despite this, Obici made a decision to add it to their system in the event of having two mothers in critical condition.
Providing details of a CuddleCot’s functionally for those unaware, Sentara Obici Bereavement Coordinator Dawn Eure said that it is a “cooling device that allows the baby to remain with the family after delivery.”
“Many times, patients are tired or simply overwhelmed and they need time to recover and begin to process this life-changing event,” Eure explained. “So, this cot allows them the time to spend with their baby and not feel rushed.”
She said that the cot allows mothers time to make decisions and also “hold their baby, bathe, [and] dress” and gives them the opportunity to bond and start the process of grieving the loss of their loved one.
Eure also explained the hospital’s first CuddleCot was donated several years ago from Kennedys Angels and is a great asset to Obici staff caring for bereaved mothers.
Prior to the Harris’ donation, however, Obici would have to choose which stillborn child to preserve in the cot in the event of having two mothers in critical condition.
“If this cot can allow one mother to spend more time with their baby, then it has done so much,” Eure said.
Harris provided a message to any mother and family that has suffered the tragedy of losing a child, emphasizing that they are not alone and it wasn’t their fault.
“It is okay to be hurt, upset and grieve,” Harris said. “You are loved and supported! Everyone grieves differently and that there is no time frame for grief. Always be kind, and love one another even though it is the hardest thing to do while going through something so heart wrenching.”
She said while she prays that the CuddleCot is never needed, she knows that is not realistic, but she still prays that the families who use it will find comfort in the memories made and time spent with their babies.
“Words cannot express how thankful I am to my amazing husband and family who encouraged me to start the fundraiser and the generosity of so many local businesses and the community for making this donation possible,” Harris said. “Rose’s memory will forever live on in our hearts and a piece of her will forever help those other families.”