Two parents in the U.K. spent 16 days with their dead baby girl in an experience that they claim helped them grieve.
Parents Charlotte Szakacs, 21, and Attila Szakacs, 28, were given the devastating news that baby Evlyn had a debilitating chromosome abnormality after a 20-week scan in September 2016.
Evlyn lived four weeks after her birth on December 13. She was born with an underdeveloped brain, narrow airways in her nose and lungs, and a narrow aorta.
She succumbed to her illness on January 10 at an England hospice.
"I've never really felt like a mum," Charlotte said. "I feel like when I was pregnant and I had all the stuff ready for Evlyn but now I'm just not pregnant. It's hard to explain, it doesn't feel real – I'm just empty."
The family used a “CuddleCot,” a device that keeps a baby’s remains cool so that the baby doesn’t deteriorate as quickly, to spend time with their daughter after she passed, even taking her out for walks in her stroller.
They spent 12 days at the hospice with her and four days at home where she slept in the cot in their room before her January 26 funeral.
“So many people have never heard of parents being able to spend that time with their babies and other moms reached out to me saying they think it would have helped so I really want to raise awareness,” Charlotte said. "I know it might not be the best option for everyone but for us it was so important to be able to have that family time – and just properly cuddle our little girl.”
Charlotte said having that time with Evlyn made a difference for her emotionally.
"I was really nervous about bringing her home because I didn't know if it would feel right, but it was so nice to have her there," she said. "And it wasn't just for us but for Evlyn so she got to come home."
Charlotte said they removed Evlyn from the ventilator the day they entered the hospice and that she was calm and peaceful.
"We got to hold her and cuddle her properly for the first time for an hour before they turned off the ventilator,” said Charlotte. "She passed away just a couple of minutes after they took out her breathing tube.
"She was so weak she didn't take a single breath. I was holding her in my arms as she went and her dad had his arms around us both.”
While Charlotte said would give anything to have her daughter with her, the mom said she knows Evlyn is in a better place.