Last August, first-time parents Emily and Chris Fricker gave birth to stillborn boy and girl twins at 22 weeks and four days. The couple turned to CuddleCot — a bassinet with a built-in refrigerator underneath — to preserve their little ones’ bodies and give them extra time to say goodbye.
“I thought that was really impactful,” Chris says.
“They were as much a part of our life as any other child, and I sincerely mean that,” Chris says. “Even if they’re not here with us now, you know, I really do feel like I carry them with me every single day.”
After their monumental loss, the Frickers decided to give other grieving parents an opportunity to spend precious moments with their infant(s). They started a GoFundMe, and raised more than $6,000 to gift two Illinois hospitals with one CuddleCot in memory of the twins.
On talking openly about their loss
Emily: “I think it’s about six months now. And it is still very difficult to talk about. At the same time, Chris and I do still like to talk about it because it brings awareness to people who don’t understand the situation. We didn’t know that this could happen to people before it happened to us, with it being our first pregnancy. So if we had maybe been able to hear somebody else’s story before, we could have maybe been a bit more prepared.”
Chris: “We first learned about the CuddleCot from our delivery nurse, who was wonderful. Her name’s Brittany. She was with us the entire evening and we knew that our twins probably weren’t going to make it just based on their gestational age. What we didn’t know is that we would be able to spend nearly as long as we wanted with them. We got to spend that first hour, hour and a half with them, just kind of holding them [and] telling them how much we loved them. We got them baptized while they were still with us. … It is sad that there’s a lot of hospitals in the country that don’t have [a CuddleCot]. So there’s a lot of parents that approach losing a child without having that immediate support right there. And of course, family is supportive and the doctors are supportive, but there’s nothing like being able to just hold onto your child for just a little bit longer.”
Emily: “It is something that is definitely a decision that you have to make between you and whoever you have the child with, or even if you’re just on your own, to you stay with your child even after they pass. But the opportunity to be able to do that the CuddleCot offers is … at least it’s an option for people to do that and spend time with their children or a child. If they didn’t want to use it, they didn’t necessarily have to, but at least it was offered and that was something that was important to Chris and I when we were doing the donations of the CuddleCots to the hospitals we chose, was that they agreed to at least offer it to every family that had a loss and give them the opportunity to spend time with their baby or babies. And if they didn’t want to use it then they didn’t have to, but at least it was available to them if they chose to do it.”
On naming and baptizing their twins, Sylas and Sybil
Chris: “You know, for me, it just it makes them human, because they are, they were. You know, they were here with us. We had just bought our new house shortly after finding out that we were pregnant. I had picked up a paint for their nursery the day that Emily actually went into labor with them. Obviously not knowing, we had just decided on their names about a week or two before, I think it was a week before.”
“… Every time I’m driving to work, you know, I bought a new vehicle and I always thought about what it’s like to have them in in my truck with me. And every single day when I’m driving to work or I’m driving home from work, it’s pretty much all I think about. And so, you know, a lot of people in the past haven’t named their child that has passed, and that’s OK too. But it’s also OK to let a child that didn’t make it still be a part of your life. It’s OK to still carry that child with you. … We will tell our future children about them, because it’s not a story that we’re shy about sharing. It’s important for us to carry them with us. It’s important for other people to know that they were here. They’re a part of our family. And it’s important for people that we don’t know to know that there’s other people out there that can help support them.”
Marcelle Hutchins produced this interview and edited it for broadcast with Todd Mundt. Serena McMahon adapted it for the web.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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