Grieving Nanaimo parents fundraising to comfort others in the event of a stillborn delivery

A couple from Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, is raising money to help people through one of the most difficult situations in life: the tragic death of a child.

Erin Sowerby Greene and her husband Cameron von Poser were excitedly expecting their first child, when on the morning of Oct. 20, 2022, they were given the tragic and sudden news their newborn baby had no heartbeat. 

Erin was diagnosed with cholestasis of pregnancy, a liver disorder, two weeks prior, and after a ten-hour labour, their daughter Briar was born sleeping. Greene said they were overwhelmed with emotions, unprepared for the outcome, and operating in survival mode.

“Due to the nature of the body’s decomposition process, we didn’t get to spend very much time with her. We spent probably an hour with her that evening, and then she was taken away to the morgue to stay cool.”

An autopsy was ordered in a bid for the family to get some answers, but the process shortened how much time they got with Briar.

The couple has since thrown themselves into the bereaved parent’s community and learned about CuddleCots to allow parents to spend more time with their child in the event of a stillbirth. 

“Instead of keeping your baby warm if they were alive, the CuddleCot keeps your baby cold so that you can keep them in the room with you as long as you’re comfortable with.”

Since their tragic night, Sowerby Greene and von Poser teamed up with the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation to fundraise to bring a CuddleCot to the Nanaimo Hospital, raising enough money on the first day the fundraiser went live.

Now, they are continuing the fundraiser effort in Briar’s name to put a CuddleCot in hospitals in Campbell River, Cowichan, and Comox.

“It’s not considered life-saving equipment so many hospitals don’t have it, but for someone who’s lost a child, it’s a huge part of the grieving, the mourning, even the bonding process with your child.”

She said a lot of people are not even aware the CuddleCot exists, or how important it can be for grieving families. 

“I know that other people will have to go through this huge, deep, tremendous loss, but I hope that the work that we’re doing in Briar’s name will hopefully give them a little bit more time.” 

According to Statistics Canada, just over 1% of births in B.C. in 2021 were stillborn.

Read the full article here.

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