For the months leading up to Harper's first birthday, I knew that I wanted to do something special in her name to honor her and remember our first year without her. One day I was looking through her memory box that we were given by the hospital where she was born. I blogged about that special box here, here and here. And as I was running my fingers over the smocking on her sweet little dress and feeling the softness of the blankets that she was wrapped in, it hit me. I decided that I wanted to donate something to the bereavement service in her name, something made by my hands with love that could provide comfort to a family going through the unthinkable...a family saying goodbye to their sweet baby way too soon.
I started wracking my brain to think of an idea and I decided that I would make baby blankets to donate. The only catch was that I didn't know the first thing about sewing. I couldn't even sew a button on properly, for goodness sake. But my mother-in-law is a talented seamstress and I asked her if she would teach me, I told her my plans and of course, she was on board.
So, I spent the three months before Harper's birthday learning to sew and making baby blankets. And I really learned, MIL is a very patient teacher and basically let me do everything myself. As aggravated as I got with myself at times (because I am a perfectionist, especially when it comes to making something in honor of my baby), I felt really proud and such a sense of accomplishment when my special little project was complete. In all, I made eleven blankets to donate and I think that they turned out pretty darn good :)
After the blanket making was complete, I was unsure of how to present them. I couldn't just take a stack of blankets to the hospital and drop them off. I wanted them to be more special than that, again because they were in honor of Harper they needed to be extra special. Chris and I talked about it and he had the idea to wrap them up with pretty ribbon and attach a note written by us to the families receiving our blankets. I loved it and so the next phase of our project began.
We handmade each card with a butterfly poem and either a butterfly or dragonfly embellishment on the front.
"A butterfly lights besides us like a sunbeam.
And for a brief moment its glory and beauty belongs to the world.But then it flies once again, and though we wish it could have stayed,
we feel so lucky to have seen it."
Here are a some pics of Harper's blankets...
And here is the letter that we wrote (Chris mostly), and put inside the card. We were both pretty emotional writing the letter, thinking about Harper and how sad it is that more families will go through the pain that we are all too familiar with.
We wanted to take this time to tell you how sorry we are for the loss of your precious baby. We are all too familiar with the road that you are about to walk down as we continue to walk it daily. We lost our daughter, Harper Grace, on June 25, 2010 and a piece of our hearts went with her that day.
For the parents of a lost child there are no simple words to help ease the grief and pain you will experience over the days, weeks and months that follow the day you said goodbye to your beautiful baby. The shattered dreams and heartache that began on that terrible day will become a part of who you are forever as you start to live what is often referred to as your “new normal”. The pain will always be there but over time you will learn how to live with it and how to deal with this new reality.
Please know that there is no right or wrong way to grieve and that you should grieve in your own way. Many people will expect you to “get better” after an arbitrary amount of time or to “move on”. The majority of people who have not experienced the loss of an infant will not understand that losing your child is not a curable condition and that even though you will go on living, you will always miss your baby, you will always grieve for the life that was lost, and the dreams that were stolen from you. Your sweet baby will always be a missing part of your family.
Leaving the hospital with a small box of keepsakes instead of a baby was never in any of our plans, but that special box has become one of our most cherished possessions. It remains a link to our daughter and a source of comfort. As we continue to grieve for our own loss and you start your personal journey on this sad and often lonely road, we hope that you can find some comfort in the items found in this box. Many of the items were donated by fellow parents who also mourn for their lost children. We were inspired by this generosity and as we approached the one year anniversary of our loss, we have enjoyed the opportunity to also contribute to these special collections with blankets we made in memory of our own angel.
Please know that you are not alone and that even though losing an infant is not talked about much, there are many parents in our sad club. There is support out there when friends, family and faith are not enough. We found comfort and support on the websites listed below that helped immeasurably and can provide exposure to a whole community who knows what you are going through. Many other web sites, books and advocacy groups exist as well.
I Will Carry You by Angie Smith
Empty Cradle, Broken Heart by Deborah L. Davis, Ph.D.
"What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, For all that we love deeply becomes a part of us." --Helen Keller
Here are a some pics of Harper's blankets...
There is a tag like this on every blanket. I always love seeing her name all written out.
Rolled up and ready.
Packaged up in a tupperware bin so that they don't get dirty or dusty.
The front of the card that we made and the inside of the card is off to the right.
On Friday, the 24th, the day before Harper's birthday we (me, Chris and my mom) took our packaged up blankets to the fourth floor of the hospital....the same floor where we lived for ten days praying that she would make it and the same floor where she was born and our nightmare began. I still get a knotted up feeling in my stomach walking onto that floor but it actually felt good in a weird way to be back up there doing some good in her name...giving back and donating something made with love to a family in need in honor of Harper.