In 2013, Debbi and Walt Clarke experienced the unimaginable loss of their third child, Eason, who was stillborn at 37 weeks. To honor Eason, the Clarkes recently donated two CuddleCots to the North Carolina Women’s Hospital to help families who suffer similar losses, making the hospital the first in North Carolina to offer them to families.

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by Zach Read – zachary.read@unchealth.unc.edu


Debbi and Walt Clarke were prepared to welcome their third child, Eason, to their family in March 2013. There was a chance he’d arrive early, as had their seven-year-old son, Redding. They’d excitedly decorated Eason’s room and guessed he’d be every bit as active as Redding, who is your typical, boisterous boy. They knew he’d be a great sibling to Redding and their oldest child, Emma Kate, who was also getting ready, sometimes reluctantly and sometimes joyfully, for another little brother.

Through February, Debbi’s pregnancy had been unremarkable. She’d bonded with Eason, feeling him grow, learning his sleeping and waking cycles, and becoming accustomed to the various triggers that made him move and respond. As she approached her due date, the kicks increased. Everything was normal.

Then, about three weeks before Eason was due, something changed. Debbi noticed that he wasn’t moving as much. She suspected he was fine and simply settling into his head-down position, but she wanted reassurance, so she called her doctor’s office.

“I went in for an ultrasound to make sure everything was okay, and it wasn’t,” says Debbi, who serves as special consultant to Provost James W. Dean Jr. at UNC-Chapel Hill. “As soon as the tech put the monitor on, he knew something was wrong – you couldn’t hear the heartbeat, and you couldn’t see any movement on the screen. He put his hand on my arm and said, ‘I’m sorry.’ That’s when everything stops and unravels.” Continue.