Cuddle cot ensures May Rose’s memory lives on

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

WHEN Analee Gibney received the heartbreaking news that her unborn baby had the life-shortening neural tube defect encephalocele, her world came down.

The crushing news was then compounded for her when medics gave the bleak prognosis that it was unlikely that Analee's unborn child would live more than a few minutes once born.

Yet, against all odds and much adversity, Analee had a beautiful baby girl, May-Rose, who was born on March 9 last year with a condition that left the back of her skull with a gap.

May-Rose survived for nearly seven months, before sadly passing away on October 2.

Because of the kindness, help and goodwill the young mum received from the community in her darkest hours, Analee has fundraised to buy a Cuddle Cot and a Snuggle Mat which she is donating to McConville's Funeral Home in Crossmaglen, so that other families in their time of grief can spend some precious hours with their infants.

Describing the moment she received the terrible news, Analee said: "It was really heartbreaking news, you didn't know what to expect, every time you'd go to the hospital every appointment was just bad news after more bad news.

"It's a form of spina bifida but it affects the brain, so when the skull is developing the skull leaves a gap which leaves room for the brain to come through and grow on the outside."

Analee says that she garnered comfort from her unborn baby and found May-Rose a great source of strength in helping her to process her grief and trauma.

"Even though she wasn't born, I found that I got strength from May-Rose, to get me up in the morning to go to the appointments.

"We're presenting a cuddle cot to Crossmaglen and it's for a baby from zero months, stillborn, right up to three months. It's basically a tiny box and you get a Moses basket with it.

"It keeps the body cool and stops it from deteriorating and it allows the parents to cuddle the baby up until they're ready to put the baby to rest," said Analee.

The 25-year-old mum said that she found a solidarity of support from other parents in similarly tragic circumstances that she couldn't receive from the medical specialists.

She said: "There's not enough awareness of it or not enough details about what it is, so I found a forum on Facebook of parents all over the world who had Encephalocele. I joined that and I got more comfort from and questions answered from them than I did by any doctor or specialist.

"May-Rose was born on the Thursday and we prayed for five to 10 minutes with her and we got six-and-a-half months with her - she kept proving all of the specialists wrong," she said.

"She passed away on October 2, she had surgery in late July because she suffered from really bad seizures; her seizures would last constantly for maybe five hours up to 42 hours - maybe more. Towards the end she just couldn't take any more."

Thanking those within the wider community for all their help throughout the traumatic time, Analee said: "I just want to let people know that there are such things as cuddle cots and snuggle mats that you can have that precious time with your baby. It makes the grief a wee bit easier."


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