Bereaved parents take baby home for 'family time' after death, thanks to cuddle cot

Charlotte and Atilla holding baby Evlyn for the first time, three days after her birth.
Charlotte and Atilla holding baby Evlyn for the first time, three days after her birth.  Photo: Facebook

A bereaved mother has spoken about her decision to take her daughter's body home to spend time as a family before her funeral. 

Charlotte Szakacs gave birth to baby Evlyn on the December 13. Sadly, Evlyn had a chromosomal abnormality, which meant she was born weighing just 2.49kg. She also had an underdeveloped brain, narrow airways and coronary complications.

Evlyn passed away at a hospice in Yorkshire on January 10. But Szakacs and her husband Atilla wanted to spend more time with their precious daughter, so they stayed in the hospice with her for 12 days then decided to take her home for the last four days before her funeral.

"I was really nervous about bringing her home because I didn't know if it would feel right, but it was so nice to have her there. And it wasn't just for us but for Evlyn so she got to come home," Szakacs told the Daily Mail

Taking Evelyn home meant that Szakacs and her husband could enjoy some family time. They took her for walks in her pram and took lots of photos.

"I think having the time with her made such a difference. Being able to do so many of the things you imagine, it really helped emotionally," said Szakacs.

Szakacs was able to take Evlyn home thanks to a refrigerated 'cuddle cot' provided by the hospice. And the heartbroken mum now wants to raise awareness so other bereaved parents know they have the option of taking their baby home.

"So many people have never heard of parents being able to spend that time with their babies. Other mums reached out to me saying they think it would have helped, so I really want to raise awareness," she explained.

The couple first learned of Evlyn's condition at the 20-week scan. "Attila and I completely broke down. I think we broke down more then compared to when we lost her because at that point we just had no idea what it all meant," said Szakacs.

"The last thing you want as a parent is for your child to be sick. Even after we were told she would probably never breathe on her own, we still clung onto this tiny bit of hope that she would."

Evlyn was born by caesarean section and immediately rushed to a ventilator. Because of her narrow airways the newborn couldn't breathe on her own and surgery wasn't an option.

The couple were advised to move Evlyn to a hospice, but Szakacs says she wasn't ready to face the reality of her daughter's condition.

But as their daughter deteriorated, the couple made the heartbreaking decision to let her go. "We knew we could either watch our little girl die in a hospital, on a ventilator, surrounded by doctors and beeping machines or let her go peacefully in a lovely hospice," explained Szakacs

"It was the hardest decision you could ever make as parents but I knew keeping her at the hospital would just be selfish.

"Evlyn was moved to the hospice on January 10 and I have never seen her so calm. We got to hold her and cuddle her properly for the first time for an hour before they turned off the ventilator."

Baby Evelyn passed away a few minutes later. "She was so weak she didn't take a single breath. I was holding her in my arms as she went, and her dad had his arms around us both."

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Dr Clea Harmer, chief executive at stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands said she was very sorry to hear about baby Evelyn.

"A cold cot allowed Evlyn's parents to spend extra time with their daughter after she had died, and some parents tell us that spending time with their babies at home or in hospital can help them with the grieving process," said Dr Harmer.

"I would urge anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby to contact us."

Sands Australia:, 1300 072 637