Healthwatch 16: The Gift of Time

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- In most cases, the delivery of a baby is one of the most joyous times in a parent's life.

But sometimes tragedy hits and an infant is stillborn. In that case, a little more time with the baby is all the new mom or dad can ask for.

A young mom from Luzerne County, who knows that pain all too well, is trying to give those parents more time in memory of her son.

At Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center near Wilkes-Barre, a small room in the mom/baby unit held a big crowd. They were on hand to see a special donation from young mom Ashley Mininger of Plains Township.

"My family and I could only have six hours to say goodbye," Mininger said through tears.

After what she calls a normal, healthy pregnancy, Ashley gave birth to a stillborn son named Brayden in May of 2014.

"I actually had a third ultrasound two weeks prior to him passing away. Everything was fine."

No parent is prepared to hear those words: "There's no heartbeat."

A few years later, her cousin experienced the same heartbreak in Florida but was able to use something called a "Cuddle Cot," a specially designed bassinet that cools the baby and preserves his or her appearance, so mom can take as much time as she needs to say goodbye -- hours, or even days.

Ashley immediately wanted to bring one to Pennsylvania.

"I had two hours with my daughter. It was hello, goodbye, then now what," said Christina Stamper.

Christina Stamper from Stuart, Florida, is the founder of Madison's Miracles. Her daughter Madison was stillborn in February of 2007. The group is now a support system for grieving families and works to donate Cuddle Cots to hospitals -- seven so far in the state of Florida.

"This was the first time we came out of the state of Florida," Christina said.

Christina put a Cuddle Cot together to show us how it works.

She and Ashley put a plan together to fundraise the $3,000 it would take to bring one here.

Dr. Desiree Wagner says this will be a great benefit to the hospital.

"When there's a perinatal death, everything can happen really fast. Sometimes mom is being tended to because she was sick during delivery as well. So, it gives them time to bond, to take pictures, to do everything they were hoping for when the baby was born," Dr. Wagner explained.

It isn't what Ashley or Christina got to do but they both say the more they can help other families, the more their families are able to heal.

"We know that our child's life was worth something, even though it was such a short time," said Christina.

"It makes me proud because my son's name is going to live on," Ashley said.

Ashley is now working with Madison's Miracles to be a support to other moms and dads in the area who want to talk with someone about their loss.

She plans to fundraise again to bring another Cuddle Cots to Pennsylvania.