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Mom Who Lost Infant Son Pushing for This Item to Be Available in All Hospitals

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Leslie and Adam Strader lost their son Dean when he was stillborn at 34 weeks in June 2015. Torn over the decision to keep sending Dean back and forth from her bed to a cooling room for preservation, the Straders said their final goodbyes and left the hospital.

Strader recalled the agony she felt each time she parted with her son and vowed to do everything in her power to make sure other parents never went through this. In the months since losing Dean, Strader attended support groups and did online research, which is how she learned about CuddleCot, an in-room cooling device that allows parents to spend significantly more time with their stillborn infants. CuddleCots are small units that can be placed in any moses basket, crib, pram or bed, and their pad and insulated hose cool the the stillborn infant to better preserve their condition, according to the company’s website.

A stillbirth is defined as the loss of an infant 20 or more weeks after a woman becomes pregnant. Stillbirth effects about 1 percent of all pregnancies, and each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the U.S., according to the United States Centers for Disease Control.



After deciding to raise the funds to donate a CuddleCot to her local hospital, a mutual friend put Strader in touch with Susan Wallace, a palliative care professional and social worker, and together the women started pushing for CuddleCots to be a standard offering in all hospitals in their home state of Ohio. They met other local moms with their own fundraising campaigns for Cuddle Cots, and their effort picked up steam.

So far, they’ve achieved this goal in two separate counties, earning enough in donations to give a total of 10 units to all the hospitals in Franklin County and one in Licking County. Strader told The Mighty she purchased the CuddleCots through the U.S. Cuddle Cot Campaign Initiative, which tracks where the devices are located across the country.

Cuddle Cot cooling crib
Image courtesy of Leslie Strader

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think my son would pass away,” Strader told The Mighty. “After something so unexpected happens to you, you can’t help but fill your days crying at first and then, later, researching everything you can about this horrible new ‘club’ you’ve joined.”

“Not one second is taken for granted when you have so few of them with your child,” Strader wrote on the GoFundMe page for her campaign. “Like any new parents, we counted toes, fingers, and compared facial features. Unlike most new parents, we were panicked during our time with our baby, rushing our goodbye as we raced the clock, fearing he would wither in our arms.”

“Feeling as though you can stay as long as you need just to process what just happened to you and how your life is different than what you’d expected is so important,” Strader told The Mighty.

Leslie and Adam Strader with son Dean
Leslie and Adam Strader with their late son, Dean.

“[Imagine] if you had to compress all your hopes into a few hundred minutes, how would you allot them?” Wallace said in an interview with “How would it feel to watch the arbitrary ticking of the wall clock? Would you worry every time a nurse walked by your door, afraid she might tell you that the time was up? How might that background worry change the very experience of bonding with your child? What if the time came but you weren’t ready, not quite yet, to let him go?”

Strader and Wallace are planning on moving forward with making CuddleCots available in other communities in the state. “This project is very emotional for me and if it wasn’t for her, there are times I would have given up,” Strader told The Mighty. “We’ve become a great team.”

Originally published: February 17, 2016
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