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Cuddle Cot helps give local family precious time with late son

James, the son of Catherine and Jim Ashe, had a chromosome disorder called Trisomy 18. After his death, the Ashes kept James in a Cuddle Cot for three days while they grieved. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

A local family is grieving after they lost their son to Trisomy 18. Although the Ashe family has had an emotional year, they want others to know about the Cuddle Cot, a device that helped them say goodbye to their son in a special way.

When Catherine and Jim Ashe found out their family of four was expanding to five, they were overwhelmed with joy. But at 26 weeks, their happiness shifted to worry. An ultra sound and genetic testing showed their baby boy named James had a chromosome disorder called Trisomy 18. The chromosome disorder, also known as Edwards Syndrome, is commonly fatal for babies before birth.

According to Trisomy18.org, a Trisomy 18 error occurs in about 1 out of every 2,500 pregnancies in the United States and 1 in 6,000 live births. The number of total births is much higher because it includes significant numbers of stillbirths that occur in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

Despite the grim news, Catherine and James knew they had to give their boy a fighting chance. On Aug. 1, 2016, at 37 weeks, James, weighing four pounds, 12 ounces, was born by C-section.

"He (Jim) said it was like winning the Super Bowl that he was alive and doing pretty well," said Catherine.

After five months of making precious memories, James' health started to decline. And on Jan. 2, he took his final breath.

"Nobody ever prepares you for something like this. I try really hard to be grateful that we had him at all," said Catherine.

After his death, the parents began planning his burial. Instead of sending their son off to a morgue or funeral home, Catherine took James home from the hospital with her that day. Mountain Area Pregnancy Services had a Cuddle Cot device set up for the family when they arrived.

"Catherine drove James from the hospital here, and he was on the Cuddle Cot for three days. But he could have stayed longer if they desired," said Julie Morris, with Mountain Area Pregnancy Services.

The cot preserves the body while the family has time to grieve.

"You don't have to have your baby taken away from you after they pass. You can have time," said Jim.

"The Cuddle Cot gives them the opportunity, instead of going to the morgue or funeral home, to be able to hold their baby longer, to have photographs, make memories and say their final goodbye. It's just that bonding that the mom has with the baby," Morris said.

Three days after James' passing, he was laid to rest, in the family's backyard under a maple tree.

"It was the most tragically beautiful thing we have ever experienced. We read a book called "On The Night You Were Born," and then we also sang "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" because I sang that to him while he was in the hospital," said Catherine.

A year later, on what would have been James' 1st birthday, there was a celebration of life.

"You have all these dreams for them and when you have a sick baby you realize you shouldn't be focused on that far. Jim and James taught me that you really have to live in the moment," said Catherine.

Now, her son's legacy lives on. The family raised enough money to provide Mission Hospital and Park Ridge with their first Cuddle Cots, donated in James' honor.

The cots at Mission and Park Ridge stay in the hospital while the cot at Mountain Area Pregnancy Services can be taken home by families. By providing the hospitals with a cot, the Ashe's are giving the gift of precious time back to families.

"It's been terrible losing him and finding out. It was terrible, but we would not change it . We wouldn't change anything. He was perfect," said Jim.

Catherine now writes a blog called Loving James to help her healing process. To follow her blog click here.

To learn more about Trisomy 18 click here.

To learn more about the Cuddle Cot click here.

To find out more information on Mountain Area Pregnancy services click here.











Catherine and Jim Ashe gave birth to their third child, James, on August 1, 2016.


said they are thankful they got more time with him than they expected in part to a special device available here in the mountains.



that helped them say goodbye in a very special way.

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