Couple Donates Cuddle Cot
(Honesdale, March 1, 2021)… The maternity staff at Wayne Memorial Hospital was thrilled when Hannah and Joseph “Joe” Henselder donated a “cuddle cot” to their unit—but they hope they never have to use it. It’s essentially a cooling unit inside a bassinet that gives parents of a baby born stillborn or deceased shortly after birth time to say goodbye. The cooling device preserves the newborn’s tiny body for several days so the parents can hold and bond with the baby, creating unforgettable memories.
For parents like Joe and Hannah, who lost their first child last year, a baby boy who lived for just six minutes after he was born, the cuddle cot was a comfort they didn’t expect.
“We didn’t know what it was until the hospital asked us if we wanted it,” said Hannah, “and in the end it was just what we needed. We were able to say goodbye to Myles in a way we would not have had the cot not been available.”
The Tunkhannock couple say their child, delivered in a Syracuse hospital, was diagnosed in-utero with a fatal genetic type of dwarfism, but they chose to carry him full term.
“My grandmother lost twins and she never saw them and it was a trauma she never forgot,” said Joe. “When we were given this cot and were able to hold Myles and say goodbye the way we needed to do, we knew this was a gift that had to be shared.”
The Henselders are keen to donate cuddle cots to other hospitals as well when they can do so. The cots are not inexpensive, costing thousands of dollars, but they offer invaluable emotional returns. Studies show that many women whose babies are stillborn or die soon after birth often suffer post-traumatic stress and depression.
Hannah and Joe were able to hold Myles for three days, a time that “allowed our grieving to happen.”
A small plaque on the side of the cuddle cot says “In loving memory of Myles Theodore Henselder, September 1, 2020. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” (This includes a quote from a book and song, Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.)
Janice Pettinato, clinical co-coordinator of the New Beginnings Birthing Suites at Wayne Memorial Hospital thanked Hannah and Joe for the donation. “This is really a gift of the heart,” said Pettinato, “and we truly appreciate it.”
Wayne Memorial Hospital records close to 500 births each year, most delivered by ob/gyns or certified nurse-midwives from the Women’s Health Center, part of Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers.
Photo, left to right: Joe and Hannah Henselder; Janice Pettinato, RN; Brikele Mallick, RN; Natasha Freethy, RN; and Lauren Medina, RN.