Inspired by October being pregnancy and infant loss awareness month, a Breslau resident is raising funds to bring comfort and closure to mothers experiencing loss at birth.
Christine Keachie has been a photographer for several years, documenting family life. Known for her strength in capturing candid moments, Keachie took a call that would bring the issue to her attention.
“About a year and a half ago I was called by one of my families to come and they asked if I would capture their baby, who was born as a stillbirth,” said Keachie. “There are photographers and organizations that do that specifically, but they trusted me to be that person – they wanted me to be there if I was comfortable with that. Having been through miscarriage myself, I kind of jumped at the opportunity to help the family, so I went and captured quite a bit for them.”
After that first experience, she was contacted by others to use her photographic abilities in a similar capacity.
Having been born at Cambridge Memorial Hospital and taken her three children there over the years, Keachie thought the location could benefit from what’s known as a cuddle cot, which can extend parents’ time with the baby.
“When we had our loss in 2017, I became a part of this loss community and I heard people talking about them from different hospitals across Canada, different groups where other mums would talk about these cuddle cots and how they were able to have a day or two or three days, whatever that timeframe was at the hospital. And it kind of intrigued me,” said Keachie, who then did some research to see if the local hospitals had their own, discovering they did not.
Keachie is currently running a fundraiser under the name ‘Cuddle Cot for Cambridge’ to bring one of the blankets, which cost about $3,500, to the hospital.
Currently, photographers are not allowed into hospitals due to COVID-19 restrictions, a situation that in part inspired Keachie to run the campaign.
“Some of these families aren’t getting extended family members in to see the baby pass right now. Mom and Dad are the only ones that are allowed to be there, so grandparents aren’t getting to meet the baby; siblings, aunts and uncles … nobody is able to come into the hospital right now with COVID policies. So I feel like having the cuddle cot gives those families a little bit more time to take the pictures, to do whatever they need to do, have a family member bring a good-quality camera if they don’t have one and drop it off at the hospital. That, or have dad go home and get things to bring back to the hospital to be able to cherish those moments. I feel like because of COVID they’re not having those outside supports to help them, arrange all of that, so I feel more pressure to get this out to the families,” Keachie explained of the effort.
There are multiple ways people can help Keachie’s cause, including participating in an online auction that features items donated by local businesses, direct donations online or purchasing books from Play-A-Latte Cafe in Kitchener.
Cambridge Memorial Hospital is the first on Keachie’s list, and she aims to bring a cuddle cot to Guelph General Hospital and Grand River Hospital in the near future. More information on the fundraiser can be found on her website.