NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — When Julie Roberson dropped off her five-month-old son at daycare, she had no idea it would be the last time she saw him alive. Liam unexpectedly passed away in 2018 from natural causes. His devastated mother couldn’t see or hold him for a week.
“There’s no better gift than the gift of time and to be able to say goodbye on your own terms and when you are ready,” she told WAVY.
A special cradle donated to Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital in Liam’s memory promises to give that gift to other grieving parents.
“So the entire inside of this cradle will get cold and that will help to preserve the baby’s appearance,” said Labor & Delivery Nurse Manager Kristy Ford.
The Cenotaph smart cradle has a metal plate inside that cools a gel mattress. The mattress can also be removed so parents can wrap a baby inside and hold them close.
“So it gives them days instead of hours,” Ford said.
The donation was made by the organization, Kennedy’s Angel Gowns. Its founder, Heather Wilson, lost her daughter Kennedy in 2009.
“It’s a high statistic that we don’t talk about, and of course, it’s more prone to happen to women of color so … we continue to bring awareness,” Wilson said.
Nurses expect the cradle will be used at least twice a month for infant loss, helping grieving families say goodbye the way Roberson wishes she could have.
Her message to them?
“Really cherish every single moment that you have,” Roberson said, “and those last moments are really what’s gong to leave that imprint on your heart.”