Cuddle cots bring comfort to families facing infant loss
For Raquel and Frank Virtu it's a bittersweet time.
"I wish we weren't in this situation, but I am glad something positive has come from it," Raquel said from her family's home in Sydney's inner-west.
The couple, parents to daughters Mila, 3, and Allegra, 2, experienced the loss of their third child in November last year.
Their baby, a boy named Luca Samuel, was stillborn.
"The midwife at RPA was so caring. She made the hardest of experiences somewhat easier," Raquel said.
At the time, the number of visitors to the hospital were limited as part of the District's response to COVID-19.
Raquel and Frank arranged to bring Luca home from RPA for 24-hours with the use of a Cuddle Cot - a specially designed cot fitted with a cooling system in a basket that lies beneath the baby.
It extends the precious time families are able to spend with their baby before saying goodbye.
"We're so glad we did it. Our girls were able to kiss and hold Luca. We told them, 'He's an angel who will look after you.' It helped them understand a little. And it gave us some comfort," Raquel said.
Now, they have donated one of the $6500 cots to the Women and Babies maternity service at RPA raising the money to fund the cot via Bears of Hope - a pregnancy and infant loss support group.
"We're so grateful to our family and friends who helped us reach our fundraising goal in a short period of time," Raquel said.
The cot has Luca's name and date of birth embroidered on the hood of the basket.
"We wanted to help others in the same situation. If another family is able to benefit… then some good has come from this," Raquel said.
Every year, about 100 families in Sydney Local Heath District experience stillbirth or neonatal death. The District's multidisciplinary iSAIL (integrated Support After Infant Loss) Clinic, was set up in 2015 to provide care, support and education for bereaved families.
The service has supported more than 400 families to date - including Raquel and Frank.
"The death of an infant either before or after birth is known to be one of the most profound losses a family can experience," Vanessa Postle, a Clinical Midwife Consultant, at iSAIL said.
"We would like to sincerely thank Raquel and Frank for the donation of a Cuddle Cot to RPA Women and Babies. In a time of immense grief, they've thought of others. It'll make a big difference to families who face the loss of their baby," she said.
There are Cuddle Cots in the postnatal wards at RPA and Canterbury hospitals and in RPA's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.