Life Wellbeing Grief-stricken parents share what helped them cope with the pain of losing their newborns

Grief-stricken parents share what helped them cope with the pain of losing their newborns

Cuddle cots
Belinda and Will Matthews were able to hold their stillborn baby Hunter and take pictures with him days after his death. Photo: Getty
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Warning: The following content may disturb some readers

A mother crying out for her stillborn baby to be brought back from the hospital morgue is a story Belinda Matthews hears too often.

She, along with her husband Will, are mourning the loss of their baby Hunter after he was born dead on January 30.

It comes less than a year after Ms Matthews delivered another stillborn baby, Logan.

The Brisbane couple want other parents to know about an invention that helped ease their grieving process.

Logan was stillborn at 22 weeks on March 5, 2019. Photo: Will Matthews

They are cuddle cots – a cooling system that acts like a refrigerated bassinet and allows stillborn babies to be preserved so grieving parents get time to spend with their children without their bodies deteriorating.

“Will and I got to go up on the roof and show Hunter the stars,” Ms Matthews said.

“I could reach over in the middle of the night and just pull him towards me and give him a cuddle.”

A cuddle cot enabled the grief-stricken couple to create memories with Hunter after his death. Photo: Will Matthews

Mr and Mrs Matthews spent six days with Hunter at Mater Mothers’ Hospital in south Brisbane before his body was brought to the mortuary.

“It’s just priceless for us because we don’t get to make any other memories,” Ms Matthews said, tearing up.

During that short time, they counted 11 more families who were dealing with a stillbirth, including in the room next door to theirs.

“It was just breaking our hearts over and over again that more people as well as us were going through the same,” Mr Matthews said.

“Having six days with Hunter where I could pick him up and I could sit on a seat or lie down and actually think about what’s happened … allows me to deal with emotions that half the time you don’t even know are there because society moves you on so quickly.”

Hunter’s body was preserved for six days. Photo: Renee Czapla

Every day in Australia, six babies are stillborn and the past two decades have seen little improvement in overall stillbirth rates, according to the Centre of Research Excellence in Stillbirth.

Mr and Mrs Matthews are grateful for the time they had with Logan and Hunter. Photo: Will Matthews

Cuddle cots are nothing new but they’re something the Matthews family would have no idea about had it not been offered to them after the stillbirths of Hunter and Logan.

“Cuddle cots are donated to the hospital by parents like us because they’re not a necessity for the hospital to fund,” Ms Matthews said.

“Having that opportunity to prolong the time available with your baby is invaluable,” Mr Matthews said.

They have launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for the Mater Mothers Hospital to buy more cuddle cots, in the hope that families affected by stillbirth suffer a little bit less.

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