Family's precious gift in honour of heartbreaking loss

Monique, Jereme, Nate, 8, Kade, 6 and Ryder St Pierre, 3 presented the Gladstone Mater Hospitals midwife Kath Silverwood and nursing unit manager of wards and maternity Arlene Kirk with a $6000 cuddle cot this week.
Monique, Jereme, Nate, 8, Kade, 6 and Ryder St Pierre, 3 presented the Gladstone Mater Hospitals midwife Kath Silverwood and nursing unit manager of wards and maternity Arlene Kirk with a $6000 cuddle cot this week. Mike Richards GLA180817BABY

IT'S 18 minutes the St Pierre family will never forget.

Cradled in their arms, their first daughter Layney died 18 minutes after she was born premature at 10pm on December 20, 2012.

Still without answers on what caused the fatal labour at 22 weeks, parents Monique and Jereme keep her memory alive by raising money for equipment they longed for during their precious hours with their little girl.

Without a cuddle cot at the Gladstone Hospital during Layney's birth, the Tannum Sands family had less than 12 hours to make memories with their newborn.

In those 12 hours, they cuddled their newborn, introduced her to two older brothers Nate and Kade, took photos and Layney's hand and foot prints.

But the stress of knowing their time together was limited is a feeling that has stayed with Monique.

"(A cuddle cot) would've taken the stress away ... We knew we didn't have much time," the now mum of three said.

"We could've relaxed a bit more and had at least 24 hours with her, and more family members could have come and met her."

This week Monique and Jereme donated a cuddle cot to Gladstone Mater Hospital.

A cuddle cot is an insulated cot that keeps the baby's temperature cool, to give families time to spend with their baby.

It's Layney's Legacy's second donation, the first to the Gladstone Hospital two years ago, which up until this week's donation, was shared with the private hospital.

It's a piece of equipment the hospital doesn't want to use, but with six stillborn babies a day in Australia, in tragic circumstances, it may have to.

"On the occasions that you do need it (the cuddle cot) is very valuable," nurse unit manager wards and maternity Arlene Kirk said.

"Parents can stay with their baby as long as they need to to allow grieving and closure before they have to say goodbye."

Janelle Marshall has seen the benefits first-hand of a cuddle cot in the long-term recovery of parents and families who experience newborn death.

Ms Marshall, general manager services of stillbirth support provider Sands, said the cots offer "huge emotional value" to families, through giving the gift of time.

"We know now that how families are treated and how they can bond with their babies is really significant in terms of their grief journey and how they respond to it," she said.

"It's a very, very isolating grief and can make you feel alone, like no one can possibly understand the immensity of the grief," Ms Marshall said.

She said Sands, a peer-to-peer support provider where parents who have experienced newborn loss counsel those struggling with it, gave parents an outlet to share their feelings of grief.

For the Tannum Sands family, donating cuddle cots has helped their healing.

Since Layney's birth, Monique and Jereme have welcomed another son, Ryder, 3.

"We talk about her all the time, we have a photo of her and Ryder talks to her and says 'good morning Layney'," Monique said.

The family, members of the Gladstone Kart Club, help host annual fundraisers for Layney's Legacy.

At $6000 each, the family has enough money to donate another cuddle cot to a central Queensland hospital.

"It's been phenomenal the amount of support we've had, it's just blown us away," she said.

"We never thought we'd be able to purchase three cots."

For info on Sands phone 0732543422.

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