Sudbury

How a Sudbury family is using its experience with perinatal loss to help others

A Sudbury family who suffered a perinatal loss in 2013 is making a special donation to the birthing centre at Health Sciences North. Kaycee and Dan Lavigne are donating a 'cuddle cot', a temperature controlled bassinet for stillborn babies. The donation is in memory of their son Dominic.

Kaycee and Dan Lavigne donate cuddle cot to hospital in memory of infant son Dominic

Kaycee and Dan Lavigne of Sudbury, Ont., with their son Theo. The couple suffered a stillbirth in 2013 with their son Dominic, when Kaycee was just 29 weeks pregnant. (Kaycee Lavigne)

Kaycee Lavigne was in labour for 14 hours with her first son, Dominic.

When it was all over she was mentally and physically exhausted. That's because she experienced a stillbirth when she was 29 weeks pregnant.

"I didn't even realize at the time that you could have a stillborn," Lavigne says.

That was in 2013. Now Lavigne and her husband Dan are providing a donation to the hospital in Sudbury they hope will help other families who must cope with a similar loss.

The couple is donating what is called a cuddle cot to the birthing centre at Health Sciences North Thursday. The $5,000 device is a temperature-controlled bassinet for stillborn babies.

Not enough time with baby

Lavigne says she was so exhausted after giving birth that she didn't get time to spend with her baby before he was taken to the morgue.

"When that time comes and [baby is] there you are just so exhausted ... so having things in place and options for you is just a great step.

"I think that if I had had this option and did have him in the room with me, I think it would have helped in the grieving process, having spent the time with him and having held him would have helped my personal grieving," Lavigne says.

The cot would also be useful if a family member is out of town and needs time to get to the hospital.

"Having the cuddle cot in our hospital will mean that this child can literally be right beside the family. The cooling unit will help preserve their bodies."

In memory of Dominic

Lavigne says the donation is in memory of their son, Dominic.

"I really wanted to do something in his memory and for him."

Lavigne says the topic of perinatal loss has become a taboo subject - not a lot of people want to talk about it.

Perinatal loss is the loss of a pregnancy, including miscarriages, stillbirths and ectopic pregnancy.

According to StatsCanada, one in four pregnancies end in loss.

"People don't like the thought of death in general, but the loss of a baby or a child ... is not a comfortable subject for people, so I think they kind of stay away from it because of that," Lavigne says.

Lost children matter

However, she adds that for parents who have experienced an infant loss, it's important for them to talk about those children.

'Hearing our baby's name is the best thing in the world."

Lavigne does have a message for families grieving the loss of their babies. Those lost children matter.

"My son is still my son and I count him in the number of children I have."

The couple now has a second child, Theo, who Kaycee calls their rainbow baby, because he was born 'after the storm'.

"In time the burden lessens, but we will never ever forget our children."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angela Gemmill

Journalist

Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who has covered news in Sudbury, Ont., for 15 years. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to angela.gemmill@cbc.ca

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