By Charlotte Nisbet
A devoted mum has created a scrapbook of memories with a TEDDY BEAR after losing her baby at 17 days old.
Laura Elliott, 27, and her husband, Mark, from Derby, were left heartbroken when their son, Cowen, died after losing his battle with a deadly strain on meningitis last October.
But after having his ashes placed inside a teddy bear, Laura has taken ‘Cowen the Bear,’ on all their family days out since.
This includes bike rides, family parties, holidays, trips to the shops and park – and she has even documented his journeys in a scrapbook.
The couple, who have two younger children, insist it is helping them create memories with Cowen from beyond the grave.
Now, with their first abroad holiday with teddy bear, Cowen, booked, the family are looking forward to their biggest adventure yet.
Laura, a former supervisor at Starbucks, said: “Cowen the bear has been by my side ever since we lost our baby last year.
“I’ve bought a big handbag so he fits in it and we always take photos of him out and about.
“He has been on so many adventures and having him around has helped us with the loss of Cowen.
“Our daughter, Skyla , three, and Ethan, six, can now make memories while knowing their little brother is with them.
“We’ve been on so many family days out with the teddy now that it wouldn’t feel right if he wasn’t with us.
“If we are on a bike ride, going to parties or school, Cowen the bear is always there.
“Cowen the bear wears a different outfit every day and is even coming on a family holiday with us to Lanzarote.
“I started a scrap book of his adventures last year and I’ve been updating it with photos every week.
“It’ll be lovely for Ethan and Skyla to look back on when they’re older too.”
Laura was left heartbroken with her son, Cowen, was stuck down with meningitis in 2016 – at just 17 days old.
It took just three and a half hours for the illness to ravage his tiny body and despite the best efforts of hospital staff, he died on October 29.
Laura added: “Cowen had colic and was always a little restless so when he started to refuse any milk, I didn’t think anything of it at first.
“But the following morning his whole body turned grey and when I went to change his nappy, I saw the purple pin pricks on his body.
“I rushed him to hospital but it was already too late, his organs were shutting down and his heart was no longer beating.
“After being ventilated and watching the rash spread all over his body, we were told there was nothing more that could save him.”
Shortly after his death Laura was told about Cuddle Cots – a cooling pad which can be placed in any crib to allow families more time with their babies.
She added: “I’d never heard of one before but Cowen spent 18 days in one after he died while in the funeral home.
“It stopped his little body was deteriorating and allowed both myself and Mark’s families to cuddle Cowen even at his funeral.
“I’m now raising funds to give our local hospital another Cuddle Cot to give any future parents the option to have the extra days we had with our baby.”
Laura opted to have Cowen’s ashes placed inside a memory bear as she knew it would be easier for her young children to understand.
She said: “The last few months have been a complete blur but slowly we’ve come to terms with the loss of Cowen.
“I didn’t even know you could have Cuddle Cots or ashes into bears but I hope my story allows other people to read about the options available.”
Helen Lee, from Central England Co-operative Funeralcare, said: “By purchasing cuddle cots, we are able to offer parents more time to sit with their child, to take them home for some time before the funeral and, most importantly, to be able to cuddle their baby.
“Providing families with the choice of a cuddle cot is very important. So many of the decisions we make as a Funeral care provider are with the families in mind and what we believe is the right thing to do.
“We are extremely proud of our Rainbow Service. We can provide complimentary support for parents who have lost a child from 16 years and under. Parents are able to focus their mind on their child and creating memories instead of having to worry about finances.
“The cuddle cot will now form part of this choice for families who have suffered the loss of a baby.”
To donate to Laura’s fundraising page, visit here.