Gracie Kirk with her baby, Kamdyn, resting in the Cuddle Cot provided by a donation from a family. Photo by Bonnie Temke.

Last February, 18-year-old Munford resident Gracie Kirk found out she was expecting a child. While it may have been an exciting milestone for her life, she was filled with fear because she was young, but knew she would be okay with the support of her family and friends.

At the first appointment she had for the baby, the heart rate was stable; a little on the lower side, but she was told this was nothing for her to worry about.  However, at the second appointment, the heart rate was lower than what it should be, resulting in having to come back for follow-up bi-weekly appointments

They soon realized that the baby had developed heart defects: many anomalies, blockage and hydrops. Kirk was told if he made it a full-term he would need a heart transplant for survival.


During this process, Kirk’s enzymes were a roller coaster because she had to go to the doctor each week with the fear of them telling her that there was another issue or they couldn’t find a heartbeat. It was her faith in God and a supporting cast around her that helped get her through.

“The only thing I had was to lean on God,” Kirk said after discussing the negative news the doctors said after every testing, “and know that whatever was going to happen was according to His plan, and that it was going to work out in the end.”

When she found out that she was having a boy, she was thrilled. She named him Kamdyn Ryder Kirk. Kamdyn means “in the valley” and Ryder stands for “warrior” and “faith upon God.”

Kirk explained that his name symbolizes the battle he faced in a dark spot of his life and, through God, he overcame it and received healing, but not on earth.

While on a family vacation, Kirk recognized she had not felt Kamdyn move in 24 hours.  That night, her family went to the hospital, where her fears were confirmed that no heartbeat was found.

After going through labor during the night, Kamdyn Ryder Kirk was stillborn June 27 at 6:05 a.m.. He weighed two pounds and was 13 inches tall.  When she held him in her arms, she began sobbing, and silently praying that he would come alive.  She hoped to hear him crying like a baby should after being born, but she knew that he was already in a better place.

Thanks to a Cuddle Cot (a bassinet that slows down the deterioration of a stillborn) donation made to the hospital by a family who had experienced similar circumstances as Kirk, she and her family were blessed with 30 hours to hold Kamdyn and take photos and prints of his ten fingers and toes.

This extra time helped Kirk and her family process the loss of Kamdyn.  Having the Cuddle Cot provided healing and precious time that otherwise would have been cut short.

After the sudden and tragic death of her baby, Kirk decided to give back to other hospitals by raising money to donate to Cuddle Cots.  When she learned her local hospital, Baptist Memorial-Tipton in Covington, did not have a Cuddle Cot, it was an obvious choice to help out other families who go through stillbirths in Tipton County.

She wants other grieving mothers and families to be afforded the precious time with their stillborn so they too can make memories.

Kirk and her family will join the CEO of Baptist-Tipton in Covington and donate two Cuddle Cots on Oct. 10, Kamdyn’s due date.

Anyone wishing to donate Kirk’s Cuddle Cots fundraising effort can do so here.

David Perry
Author: David Perry