WYANDOTTE — Tears of joy are shed often in the Birthing Center at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.
The labor and delivery medical staff works hard to prepare new mothers and fathers for delivery and life at home with a new baby.
But occasionally the tears are ones of sorrow when parents suffer the loss of a pregnancy or infant.
After the death of her baby girl, Brooke Marie, in 2005, Angela Winton felt compelled to help others in similar circumstances.
She founded Metro Detroit Share, a pregnancy and infant loss support group based in Taylor.
Through a donation from Winton’s group, HFWH recently received a Caring Cradle – a special type of cradle for fetal loss – so families who have lost babies can spend more time with them before saying goodbye. The temperature-controlled cooling devices cost approximately $4,500 apiece.
The cradle now at Henry Ford Wyandotte was donated in honor of Brooke and Preston William Szuch, the son of Brian and Carla Szuch, a fifth-floor nurse at HFWH.
Since her loss, Winton has become a treasured part of the HFWH community, according to Women and Children’s Health nurse Andrea Carlson.
“The Downriver community was tremendously lacking in support for loss of children,” Carlson said. “To me, Angie is one of us here. Through her loss, she has helped so many other families.
“She was close to term when she delivered here, and was so appreciative of the care she received here that she hosted a bowling fundraiser for the bereavement fund on the one-year anniversary of losing Brooke.”
The Caring Cradle came to HFWH in July, and unfortunately has been used once already.
“This is our first one; we didn’t even know they existed,” Carlson said.
Cathy Osgood, HFWH’s vice president of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer, said the hospital is extremely grateful for Winton’s heartfelt donation.
“The Caring Cradle provides precious time for parents to spend with their departed infants as an important part of the healing process,” Osgood said.
Pregnancy and infant loss affects thousands of parents every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States.
Since founding Metro Detroit Share in 2008, Winton has expanded her mission to provide support resources to families who endure the loss of a child during pregnancy or infancy. The volunteer-based group is made up of parents who have lost children.
The members provide memory boxes and early pregnancy loss bags at no cost to hospitals and OB/GYN offices; host twice monthly support meetings in Taylor and West Bloomfield; offer online support resources; and provide funeral assistance, perinatal bereavement training and an annual remembrance ceremony for families called the Walk for Remembrance & Hope.
In 2018, the group paid for a headstone for a mother who had waited 20 years to get one for her child’s grave because she could never afford it.
Winton and her husband now have two children, but not a day goes by that they don’t think of Brooke. That lifelong struggle is what she said pushes her to continue to help as many other families as possible.
For information about Metro Detroit Share, go to metrodetroitshare.org or call 313-492-1172.