By Andi Bourne

Turning Tragedy into the Gift of Time


March 22, 2018

Photo provided

Kendra and Jurian Coombes of Seeley Lake are raising funds to purchase a CuddleCotTM for St. Patrick Hospital in memory of their daughter Huntley Blaine Coombes. This equipment allows families to create memories and spend as much time as they need with their baby.

SEELEY LAKE – Sunday, Nov. 5 Kendra and her husband Jurian Coombes were getting ready for bed when they both felt their daughter kick. The next day they were going to welcome Huntley Blaine Coombes into the world.

When they arrived at St. Patrick's Hospital at 7:30 a.m. they were so excited. Kendra was being induced and they would soon meet their little girl. After spending an hour trying to find Huntley's heartbeat, they were given the devastating news. Huntley silently entered the world at 8:45 p.m. Nov. 6.

To honor Huntley, the Coombes are raising money to purchase a CuddleCot™ for St. Patrick Hospital's maternity ward. This equipment will give other parents and families facing this same devastating loss the gift of time allowing them to hold and love on the little one for as long as they want without the baby having to be taken away.

Kendra Vernarsky graduated from Seeley-Swan High School in 2010. She married Jurian in June 2014.

After trying to conceive for more than a year they were finally pregnant. They had a miscarriage in October 2016. In February 2017 they were pregnant again.

"It was a terrifying time for both my husband and I," wrote Kendra on her GoFundMe page. "Then at 12 weeks, we got to see and hear the heartbeat for the first time. Throughout the duration of the pregnancy, all was well."

When Huntley was born she weighed seven pounds, four ounces and was 20 inches long. It was less than 24 hours since the Coombes last felt her move.

When a child dies in the womb, the body starts to deteriorate almost immediately. Because of this, parents aren't able to spend as much time with their baby as they need without the baby having to be taken away and chilled multiple times.

"How many times do you want your baby taken away?" asked Kendra's mother Amy. "Being taken away once is more than a person needs to go through."

"When they took her away I wanted that to be the only time," said Kendra. "That was hard enough as it was."

* * * * *

Stillbirth affects about one percent of all pregnancies. Each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States.

"I knew it happened but it's not really talked about," said Kendra who added as hard as it is, she loves talking about her little girl. "I want to help change that. I feel like the only people that can help change that are the people that it has happened to."


Kendra found a support network on Facebook with other families from all over the world. A couple of the members said their hospitals had a CuddleCot™ so she started researching it.

The CuddleCot™ cooling pad is placed in any Moses basket, crib, bed or other receptacle. It is connected by a specially insulated hose and is quietly cooled using the CuddleCot™ cooling unit. The CuddleCot™ system comes in its own carry case with two sizes of cooling pad for premature and full term babies. It cools to an ideal temperature for preserving the baby without being too cold for the parents and allows family as much time as they need.

"When families experience such a devastating loss, our desire is to help them create as many memories as possible [including photographs, hand molds, locket of hair]," wrote Tracy Hartzell, BSN RNC-OB, Family Maternity Center Clinical Nurse Manager at Providence St. Patrick's Hospital. "All families grieve differently and the goal is to help support the parents in whatever way works best for them. Often, being able to have as much time as possible to bond with the baby helps with this grieving process."

"Nobody has to come [into the room] until the parents come out and say they are ready," said Amy as her voice cracked from the memory and tears started to flow. "Just that would be huge. It is bad enough that you are going through what you are going through."

"Dr. Garnass was crying with us," said Kendra. "He was just amazing along with everyone there at his office at St. Pats."

Hartzell said that St. Patrick Hospital along with many other hospitals do not have a CuddleCot™ because it is very expensive. The equipment costs $3,000.

"I wanted to do something to honor Huntley. I'm not crafty – I don't knit, I don't crochet – so that is what I could think to do to help other families," said Kendra.

As the tears began to flow she added, "It's the only time you get."

Once the Coombes reach their $3,000 goal, a CuddleCot™ will be donated in Huntley's name to St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula. If they have enough for more, they will purchase one for Community Medical Center and continue donating to other Montana hospitals as the funds support.

Hartzell wrote, "It would be a blessing to be able to offer families experiencing this loss the gift of time."

To donate make checks payable to Huntley Coombes Memorial Account. Please place Account Number 299725 in the memo. Checks can be mailed to Missoula Federal Credit Union, 3600 Brooks Street, Missoula, MT 59801 or to the Coombes, P.O. Box 190, Seeley Lake, MT 59868.

Donations can also be made online through GoFundMe by visiting

Photo provided

Kendra Coombes holds her daughter Huntley Blaine Coombes. Huntley was born Nov. 6, 2017. She weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces and was 20 inches long.


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