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Boxes for Kevin: coping with loss of an infant

Area couple donates tools to help with pain.

Erica and Scott Morin have experienced the worse heartache and pain imaginable. They buried their infant son. It’s been close to two years since the Springfield couple held nearly 8-pound baby Kevin and waited for him to die. In those short 46 minutes, Scott bathed and dressed him, photographed him and introduced him to two of his older brothers and his grandparents.

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The Morin’s nightmare began in December 2015. The couple was stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. They were expecting their fifth child who would join three older brothers and a sister. An ultrasound showed problems. The Morins learned little Kevin suffered from congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a birth defect of the diaphragm that pushes the infant’s vital internal organs into the chest cavity preventing proper lung development.

There was a 50-50 chance of survival which depended on the success of surgery during which Kevin would be put on a heart/lung machine shortly after birth. The surgery was dependent on Kevin being born with strong vital signs. It was in December 2015 the Morin’s learned Kevin also had Pallister-Killian syndrome, an extremely rare genetic disorder that ruled out the risky surgery. The couple learned their son would die the same day he was born.

The Morins, both originally from Indiana, are now stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, where Scott is a first sergeant. They are overwhelmed at the generosity and understanding they have found at Wright-Patterson.

Keeping a log of her journey has been therapeutic for Erica. After learning about Kevin’s condition, Erica grappled with a wave of emotions. She wrote, “I am happy to carry baby Kevin and extraordinarily grateful for every miraculous moment I get with him. At the same time, it hurts beyond measure that I will not get to keep him and that he is only mine for a little while. I wish I could change things but I can’t. I can’t help but think of the saying, ‘If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.’ Oh, what truth there is to that.”

The Morin’s wrote the blog to honor their son hoping their words would help parents experiencing a similar fate. And now, nearly two years later as the Morin family struggles with their loss, Erica has found a small way to keep Kevin’s memory alive while helping other parents facing a similar struggle. They are called Boxes for Kevin. For families that suffer the loss of an infant, there is often not time to think about what to bring to the hospital for a memory box. “We know firsthand how important a remembrance box can be. The remembrance boxes give a family something tangible to take home.”

The boxes include a handmade baby blanket, a knitted cap and a bracelet for mom. The Morin’s will deliver the first batch of 50 boxes to the Naval Medical Center of Portsmouth in Virginia, where Kevin was born on March 23, 2016.

Nowadays, when a couples loses a child at birth, the baby is often allowed to remain with the family for up to 30 hours. In the past, decades ago, babies were taken from their parents almost immediately after birth. Erica says those 30 hours were very important in trying to deal with her grief. “I thank God for the moments I had with Kevin and for answering my prayers to get to meet and hold him,” she recalled. “I kept Kevin with me for all that night. I held him in my arms and took in every tiny feature. I couldn’t believe how perfect he looked and how much hair he had. More than my four other kids combined. He looked so perfect that it was hard to believe he had so many issues. As I stroked his head he briefly opened his eyes and looked right into mine. I had already received all that I had prayed for. Kevin had been born alive, I had heard him make a sound, and I got to look into his eyes.”

The Morin’s are raising funds to cover the cost of assembling the boxes and to provide hospitals with caring cradles. “A caring cradle allows the family more bonding time by keeping the baby cool. A Caring Cradle costs $5,300. “We’re hoping to provide tools for families who lose an infant and we’re doing it all in the memory of our son, Kevin.”

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