Parents Chris Cruse and Gracie Cassar of Eumundi say goodbye to their daughter Ivy-Winter. Picture: Heartfelt Australia.
Parents Chris Cruse and Gracie Cassar of Eumundi say goodbye to their daughter Ivy-Winter. Picture: Heartfelt Australia.

Grieving family offers ‘cuddles’ after loss of baby

Next Thursday will be bittersweet for Eumundi's Gracie Cassar as she cherishes the memory of her daughter Ivy-Winter.

Two years ago Ms Cassar was 30-weeks pregnant in Sunshine Coast University Hospital when doctors lost the battle to save her baby.

Ms Cassar said Ivy-Winter was "born sleeping" and despite the overwhelming grief felt by her and partner Chris Cruse, there was one great comfort.

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"We were one of the lucky families who was able to use a cuddle cot for our daughter which meant Ivy could stay close to us during the night," Ms Cassar said.

She said a cuddle cot was a cooling system that laid beneath the baby within a bassinet.

It allows families to keep their baby close and create beautiful memories before saying goodbye.

Ms Cassar said it reduced the distress of separation to keep handing their baby back to hospital staff for temperature checks.

"I can't imagine not being able to use a cuddle cot - that would have added so much more trauma to an already traumatic situation," she said.

"Every single second from the moment you give birth to the moment you have to say goodbye forever is so precious and it goes so quickly and you can never ever go back in time and relive that moment," she said.

Eumundi parents Chris Cruse and Gracie Cassar with their son Aston.
Eumundi parents Chris Cruse and Gracie Cassar with their son Aston.

To mark Ivy-Winter's March 4 second birthday, Ms Cassar, who has since given birth to son Aston, set about raising funds for a cuddle cot to donate.

Ms Cassar has been overwhelmed by the response of complete strangers.

As of 11am Wednesday her online efforts totalled more than $6950 since being launched 15 days earlier.

She now hopes to raise enough funds to buy two special cots.

"We get to give a preference to where the cot will go and we've said either a hospital or a funeral home on the Sunshine Coast, but it will go to where it's most needed," she said.

She said the generosity was similar to what they experienced after they lost Ivy-Winter.

Someone paid for their hospital bills, donated memory boxes as well as flowers.

Volunteer photography service Heartfelt Australia was able to take a moving family snap of mum, dad and Ivy in hospital.

"I was lying thinking what can I do for Ivy's birthday, and obviously I can't go out and buy her heaps of presents and have a big party for her," Ms Cassar said.

"I remembered when I was in hospital being told that the cuddle cots get donated and that the one we got to use was donated by another parent who lost a child," she said.

Ms Cassar's past two years have been devoted to keeping the memory of her daughter alive and looking after her newborn son.

"I fell pregnant with him four weeks after we lost Ivy, it was pretty full on," Ms Cassar said.

"Obviously now he's here it's amazing but my whole pregnancy with him was very distressing and confusing," she said.


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