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Local family gives other parents the gift of time

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Teddy bear made in remembrance of Kipton Jiggs Shore
Teddy bear made in remembrance of Kipton Jiggs Shore

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Stillbirth affects 1-in-100 pregnancies totaling about 24,000 babies each year in the United States.

It has been a continuous journey for a local mother of three, Melissa Shore. Her family is focusing on healing from the stillbirth. Shore's stillborn son is named Kipton Jiggs. Shore and her husband are making sure families get a little extra time with their stillborn baby.

The extra time is given through a machine called a CuddleCot. Melissa and her husband purchased and donated two CuddleCots to a couple of hospitals, one at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse, the other at Tomah Health. A CuddleCot is designed to keep the stillborn baby's body cool, sterile water circulates in the CuddleCot, and the coldness slows down the natural process.

Shore said she and her husband went in for a regular routine pregnancy check-up and heard the news no parents should ever hear, that their baby no longer had a heartbeat. Shore was induced into labor to deliver a stillborn baby.

Shore defines herself as an angel mom. An angel mom is the mother of a deceased child.

"I was induced into labor and delivery for a child that never cries; this baby doesn't open up their eyes; they aren't present to nurse or feed." Shore said. "Its heartbreaking news, there are pieces that you black out, that you don't remember from that day, there's some stuff my husband remembers that I don't, and vice versa."

A stillbirth is when a baby dies before the baby is born.

Shore said the nurse that helped deliver Kipton Jiggs was also an angel mom.

"The nurse that helped me was able to sit with my husband and me, hold our hands, cry through the process with us," said Shore.

In the case were a stillbirth happens, hospital staff asks mothers if they would like mementos done or if they would like photographs taken in remembrance.

Jessica Hill, a volunteer photographer for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, photographs stillbirths. There is no payment for her services.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is a national organization that relies on volunteers to capture remembrance photography for parents suffering the loss of a baby.

Jessica Hill is an angel mom herself.

"Why do I do this? I kind of look at like, what else can I do? I can't change what this family is going through. I can't bring their baby back. If I could, I would, but I can make sure families have something to help them heal." Hill said. "I want families to know that their baby matters, regardless of being stillborn."

Shore said it is a continuous journey, some days are tough, some are better. Shore said she hopes the CuddleCot will bring families solace.
"Keep on going, don't give up." Shore said, "It takes a village to help you heal, you need that support, you need those people in your life to bring you the positive when you're down."

Here is a list of support groups for those who are experiencing the trauma of stillbirth.

Lindsey Ford

Lindsey Ford is a multi-media journalist.

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