CLEVELAND- It is one of life’s most precious gifts.
"When I found out I was pregnant, it was in February and it was a complete surprise; we weren't expecting that at all,” said Erin Maroon.
The Akron woman says it was in 2015 when she carried a baby girl through a perfect pregnancy.
But at 41 weeks, just days shy of giving birth, a sign of trouble.
Erin said, "She just kicked really hard and I remember looking down at my belly and like baby girl, what was that? And, um, and then I didn't think any more about it and then my husband came home and he flew in the house and said, 'Is Ashlie okay?'"
But baby Ashlie was not okay.
There was no longer a heartbeat and after an emergency C-section, Erin’s daughter was stillborn.
Each year, more than 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States. And according to the CDC, another 24,000 infants die each year.
"All I wanted to do was have her in my arms."
After a brief moment with her baby, Erin would soon read an online article that referenced a product called the Cuddle Cot, a cooling unit that allows grieving parents to spend up to 96 hours with a child after stillbirth or loss shortly after birth.
"I was so mad; I was so angry that we didn't have that opportunity."
But now, other families can.
Erin created Ashlie’s Embrace, an organization that partners with local non-profits, making Cuddle Cots available to parents in medical facilities throughout the U.S.
Cleveland’s MetroHealth Medical Center is the latest hospital to join the mission.
Labor and delivery assistant nurse manager Megan King said, "There are situations that are a little bit more traumatic than others and everybody grieves in their own kind of way."
Erin and her husband, Tony, now have a two-year-old boy named AJ.
Turning a tragedy into triumph, while helping grieving families along the way.
Erin added, "I will never make that decision for anyone but I will allow them to make that choice when we provide a Cuddle Cot."
The Cuddle Cot has already been gifted to 35 hospitals in four states and costs roughly $3,000.