Wake County News

Raleigh family preserving stillborn son's memory through gift to hospital

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - A Raleigh family is making sure its stillborn son’s legacy lives on by helping other families grieving the loss of a child. 

When their daughter was 2 years old, Jennifer and Haywood Alexander learned they were expecting a baby boy.

“You think about having a boy and a girl, perfect little family and all that, so it was incredibly exciting,” Haywood recalled.

“I had a lot of fun picking out all the bibs and burp cloths, and I think I was the most prepared mother in Raleigh,” Jennifer added.

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They named their son Griffin and were ready to meet him.  At 38 weeks pregnant, Jennifer thought labor was beginning, but quickly realized something was wrong. An ambulance rushed her to WakeMed.

“We found out he no longer had a heartbeat,” Jennifer said. “I just prayed that it was a nightmare.”

After eight hours of labor, Griffin was stillborn.

“He was the most beautiful baby boy I'd ever seen. He was 9 pounds and 2 ounces, and he was perfect and beautiful in every way,” she said.

The family had 24 hours to spend with Griffin.

“I promised him when we said good bye that we'd be parents he'd be proud of, and his life did have purpose. It does have purpose, and that purpose is to be there for other families in similar situations.”

That’s why the Alexanders donated a Cuddle Cot to WakeMed in Griffin’s name. It gives families more time to spend with babies who’ve passed away.

“The Cuddle Cots are cooling bassinets the families can keep at the bedside,” Jennifer explained. “To give them more time to create those memories, get other family members to the hospital to say good bye.”

Griffin would have turned 5 on Sunday, and the family said he is never far from their thoughts. Their 7-year-old daughter, Marguerite, talks about her brother and includes him in her prayers.

“Even though she never knew him or never met him, she keeps his memory alive. She understands,” Haywood said.

“He will always be a part of our family, and I feel like there's some things that death just can't take away,” Jennifer said. 

The Alexanders say the nurses and doctors at WakeMed were so kind and caring, it helped give them some comfort in the midst of an awful time. They hope their gift of a Cuddle Cot can bring a little bit of comfort to others.

WakeMed now has a number of Cuddle Cots. At least one is available in every WakeMed hospital.

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