AKRON, Ohio — Megan Gargano and her husband suffered a loss no parent ever wants to experience.
In November 2018, they found out they were going to be parents, but two weeks before their daughter's due date, they were delivered terrible news.
"On that day, two weeks shy of her due date, we heard the two words no parent ever wants to hear, 'no heartbeat'. We were beyond devastated and at a total loss," Gargano said.
On June 18, 2019, they walked hand in hand into Cleveland Clinic Akron General Hospital to welcome their daughter Luna to the world knowing that she wouldn't be able to go home with them.
"There are no words to explain the pain of losing your baby, knowing you will never hear them cry, read them a story, rock them to sleep or give them a bath. Instead, you only have hours to soak in every single detail of your beautiful baby before you have to say goodbye for the rest of your lives," Gargano said. "Your arms physically ache for your baby and you know nothing will ever fill that."
The family spent the next few weeks grieving not only the loss of their daughter, but the memories they were never going to experience.
That's when they came up with an idea to help other parents going through the same thing as them.
They approached the hospital with an idea to create a space for parents and babies to spend time with each other and build memories that will last a lifetime: The Butterfly Suite.
The suite is located in the perinatal wing of the hospital to help ease the pain of parents having to hear babies being born with a separate entrance into the room.
"The Butterfly Suite is designed to create a home-like environment that brings as much peace and comfort to families after the death of their baby(ies). Located throughout the space, families will find notes to help guide and support them during their stay," Gargano said.
Inside the suite is a couch that can be converted into a full-sized bed, a fridge, a rocking chair, a main bedroom featuring a large bed, a handmade quilt, a bassinet with a CuddleCot cooling pad that will help prolong the amount of time the child can spend with them, and more.
Gargano said a suite like this is important for hospitals to have since more than 26,000 babies are stillborn in the United State every year.
"Typically, when a baby(ies) passes away in utero or delivery, the mom and baby continue their care in the labor & delivery unit, which can be extremely difficult and triggering, as everything around you is a reminder that your baby is gone. You are surrounded by a room filled with equipment no longer needed, you can hear newborn babies crying and you see families having happy moments as they introduce their newborns to visitors," Gargano said. "Our physical, emotional and mental needs are very different following our births, which is why we need a functional space designed to fill those needs."
Gargano said losing a child is the worst pain anyone will ever experience and that she hopes the suite will bring comfort to those who need it.
"As we say, we hope it’s the least used room in the hospital, but if it is needed we are thankful we can help provide this important space to families," Gargano said.
Gargano said her goal is to bring a Butterfly Suite to every Labor and Delivery Hospital in Northeast Ohio.