Mother honours lost baby with 5 years of support for grieving families
CANADA. Katie Pereira-Prebble and Zach Prebble’s first son, Lincoln, died just before he was born in 2018.
Since then, Lincoln’s parents have grieved, and also dedicated themselves to supporting other families affected by infant and pregnancy loss. This year, the day after Lincoln’s fifth birthday, they will be raising awareness around infant and pregnancy loss at the first-annual Lincoln’s Walk.
Katie founded a fundraising charity called Links of Love in memory of her son, and has been able to raise enough to buy a CuddleCot for the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital and for other hospitals as a way to give other families more time with their stillborn baby. Katie was given an ‘Order of Collingwood’ for her continued work in the community around pregnancy and infant loss and supporting the local obstetrics units at area hospitals.
The couple have since welcomed a son named Parker, who is three years old.
Katie was 30 weeks pregnant when she noticed the baby in her womb was quiet. She went to Collingwood General and Marine Hospital (CGMH) with Zach.
The next day, ultrasounds confirmed Lincoln had died. But Lincoln and his family still had a journey to make.
“I knew I had to deliver, and I had to get through that,” said Katie.
The medical team tried, unsuccessfully, to induce Katie for three days. On Sept. 15, 2018, Lincoln was born via C-section.
“It was the worst day of our life,” said Katie.
In a different time, Lincoln would have been whisked away. Today, mothers are given an option to hold their babies, but they must say hello and goodbye in the same breath.
“No one prepares you for how quickly the baby changes. It makes an already terrible situation worse,” said Katie.
A butterfly on the door of the hospital room let others know the family was grieving the loss of their baby. Photos of babies on the wall were taken down.
The couple invited a few close relatives to meet their child, and the team of doctors, nurses and midwives helped make an imprint of Lincoln’s hand. The family has five cherished photographs.
Sometimes a stillborn baby is taken to the hospital mortuary so his or her body can be cooled for preservation. However, Katie wanted to keep Lincoln with her for as long as she could.
After two days, time ran out.
“I realised you need to say goodbye,” said Katie. “You need an opportunity to bathe and dress your baby, to take pictures, to create some sort of memory that they existed. Because they did.”
They set to work nearly immediately on a campaign to raise the funds to buy a CuddleCot.
“The CuddleCot allows the family to spend every moment with their baby, precious moments where every minute counts,” she said. Beyond that, she has set out to make sure other families who face a stillbirth will have her support and help.
“As we fundraise, there are stories coming out,” said Katie. “We have met many people along the way who have been through similar circumstances who feel we have been a voice they didn’t have and that is also something we take seriously.”
But a dead baby is a taboo subject. It has the potential to isolate those suffering from a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death because people don’t like to talk about it.
Katie said there were so many experiences and situations she would never have thought of before going through them.
The couple know there’s no way to take away the pain of stillbirth, but they are determined to do all they can for those who will have to go through the same dark tunnel they went through.
“We know how horrible the reality of it is, and know the CuddleCot is one of the only things that can even alleviate some of the pain you endure. We need families to know they aren’t alone and we just knew we had to make a difference any way we could.”
Part of that difference will be raising their voice to grow awareness of stillbirth and infant loss.
“This isn’t talked about enough,” she said. “And I’ll always be an open door for anyone who needs to talk about it.”
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