Amie Marzen, center, president of Madeline’s Mission, with other members of the organization board and staff of Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick. Madeline’s Mission donated a Cuddle Cot that allows families to spend more time with a recently deceased child. Taylor Abbott / The Forecaster

BRUNSWICK — Mid Coast Hospital is hoping to help families who have experienced a stillbirth turn their grief into hope and healing.

The hospital recently became one of the first in Maine to offer patients a Cuddle Cot, a bassinet-like cooled mattress pad, that gives families the opportunity to spend more time with their recently deceased baby by delaying deterioration of the child’s body.

The cot was donated June 13 by Madeline’s Mission, a local nonprofit that works with families whose children have died. The Cuddle Cot will be available for use throughout the hospital and not limited to the maternity unit.

“It’s been such a blessing to receive this gift,” Ellen Golding, director of the maternity unit, said. “The staff will be trained on how to use the Cuddle Cot. It’s something that we hope to not have to use, but we will have a prepared staff and we will also have other programs available to support families.”

Madeline’s Mission was founded in January by Amie Marzen of Brunswick, after her daughter, Madeline, died at the age of 4, just two months after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Besides Marzen, who is the organization’s president, board members include Melissa Chretien, Maggie Jansson, Erin Mangalan, and Jessica Brucato.

The board has been working on recruiting volunteers to help the families that reach out to them. While there is no physical address for the organization yet, they can be reached online at MadelineMission.org.

The Cuddle Cot has made its way into over 700 hospitals in the United States and Canada since 2014, according to its manufacturer, Flexible Mortuary Solutions of the United Kingdom.

According to its website, Flexmort manufactures a wide range of deceased cooling systems used around the world. The traditional cost for a Cuddle Cot is $6,000 through http://flexmort.com/cuddle-cots and includes the unit, the bassinet and the linens.

Madeline’s Mission also has a fundraiser available for Cuddle Cots at http://madelinemission.org/index.php/donate. Funds raised will help purchase Cuddle Cots that will be donated to hospitals throughout Maine.

Typically, when a couple experiences a stillbirth, they only have a few hours to spend with their baby. The Cuddle Cot, which includes a cooling system that lays beneath the baby in a bassinet, gives the family more time.

It gives them the opportunity to spend a couple of days with their child to take photos, bathe and dress the body, and take hand prints. A Cuddle Cot also gives families the opportunity to take their baby home, if they wish.

“We think it’s a fabulous donation. The hope is that we never have to use it, but certainly, if we ever have that unfortunate event happen, I think this is a great way for families to spend a little more time with their baby,” Anne Grandchamp, nurse director for the hospital, said.

Part of Madeline’s Mission is to provide families a path toward wellness, healing and hope through immediate loss care, grief counseling and education. Inspiration for the organization came after Marzen received tremendous support from her community after her daughter died.

“It’s a great way to keep our community connected and have resources here that support our local families,” Marzen said. “We’ve had a couple of families reach out to us from the hospital, and fortunately they’ve had a place to land and we are here and able to help them.”

Members are now working with about half a dozen families while also serving families looking for counseling services. The idea of funding a Cuddle Cot came about when Brucato was able to use one after experiencing a stillbirth.

“Until the day of our boy’s delivery, I had never heard of a Cuddle Cot or had a clue how precious one would come to be for our story,” Brucato, of Wiscasset, said on the website for Madeline’s Mission. “I feel so grateful to have been able to keep our stillborn son close by in the Cuddle Cot every moment until we chose to hand him to the funeral home director. I ache to hear the stories of mothers having to repetitively be separated from their baby during those precious few hours. Every moment counts when it’s your only hellos and goodbyes.”

Kendray Rodriguez of Arrowsic said she wished the Cuddle Cot was available when she went through a stillbirth.

“It’s hard to find the right words to express what having a Cuddle Cot would have meant to us after Michael was delivered,” she said in her testimonial on the organization website. “We were allowed to spend a few hours with him after delivery. I even got to take a nap with him in my arms. And then they took him away to the morgue. It was like losing him all over again. Losing a child to stillbirth takes so many things away from you, but the cruelest of those things is time. We had so little time with him.”

Marzen chose to donate the first Cuddle Cot through Madeline’s Mission to Mid Coast Hospital because it was where both her children were delivered.

“Once the word got out, more people have reached out about getting a Cuddle Cot because everyone is passionate about their hospital. Everyone has a specific kinship to the hospitals that they delivered in,” Marzen said.

Marzen added that she would like to see Madeline’s Mission raise money for bereavements kits, which include a canvas and jewelry to capture last handprints and footprints.

Taylor Abbott can be reached at 780-9123 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @tabbotttt.