LEOLA, LANCASTER CO.-- October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Mike and Michelle McGovern's son, Liam, was stillborn in 2010. Now, they are making a donation that will give families in Lancaster County more time with the babies they don't get to take home.
“It was just really hard to think of him cold, in the dark and alone, " Michelle said, "because I’m his mom and I’m supposed to keep him warm and safe.”
Her husband Mike remembers how the excitement of bringing their first child into this world, quickly changed into heartache.
“When you find out, he’s not gonna be born alive, you don’t know what to do—so all those dream and all that just goes away.”
During her pregnancy, a story Michelle read about a woman knitting for mothers in labor, stuck with her—even now, 6 years after she lost her son.
“Depending on how long the labor was, you got booties and maybe a hat—and if you got a sweater, then it was like… ohhh that’s a doozie.”
Michelle didn’t get a sweater, a hat, or even a pair of booties.
“They came in and they told us that he was gone. So I remember just sobbing to my mother, 'I don’t want to be the woman with one blue sock.'”
Blue sock or not, when Michelle first read that story, she never imagined something so tragic could happen to her family.
“You think you’re bulletproof, you know I was young and I was healthy… That’s not gonna happen to me.”
The McGoverns were not bulletproof at all. And after the bullets hit them right in the heart—they had to say goodbye to their son, knowing they would never see him, never hold him again.
Michelle says she wanted so much to just memorize her baby's face. She says she didn’t want to put him down.
She eventually had to let him go, as nature was taking its course and changing little Liam’s skin, temperature and overall appearance so rapidly. She didn’t have a choice but to let him go on only her second day in the hospital.
Mike says, “We sort of had to send him away I think before we were ready, and we just couldn’t really do anything about it.”
Michelle and Mike are giving a priceless gift to the women's place at the heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center, so families aren't forced to say goodbye to their baby before they are ready.
Mike says, “We want to do this to help other families like us who maybe don’t know what to do.”
That help comes in the form of the donation of a piece of medical equipment called a Cuddle Cot. The cot hooks up to a bassinet, and is a cooling unit that allows families who suffer the fate of a stillbirth, to spend extra time with their baby by regulating its temperature.
Michelle says the Cuddle Cot gives families the gift of time.
While the time the McGoverns had with their son was cut short, they know Liam's legacy will live on.
Michelle says, “To know that he’s not forgotten and that every single time it is used, someone will see his name, and they’ll know that this is because of this little baby boy.”
In order for the McGoverns to donate the Cuddle Cot, they had to raise funds to purchase the device. To their surprise, the money-- in its entirety came from an anonymous donor.
For more information on the device and the Cuddle Cot Campaign, here is a link to the organization's Facebook page.