Honoring Babies' Short Lives A Ministry of Love

By: 
Bob Blindauer
Staff Writer

 

Losing a child before he or she comes to full term or at birth because of a complication or health issue can be difficult for any parent to deal with. Recognizing this and providing a ministry which helps to add closure for a family in their grieving and healing process has become the mission for two area ladies.

Recently speaking to members of St. Augustine’s Mission Commission, Joan Alexander shared how she and co-partner Kerri Schlater have grown this tender, caring ministry to help families that have experienced such a loss.

Alexander worked 37 years as an LPN and says, “I have seen a lot of pain. ... We were in a bad car accident in 1990. That was the most helpless feeling.” Her son Scott was given a diagnosis of a baby that would not live in 2008. “They went along as long as far as they could.” In 2015 another son and his wife suffered a loss at six months. “They weren’t prepared. At that time I had the idea just to show someone cared.”

 Working in Maria Stein, Alexander’s co-worker Sharon Koesters had lost a baby at full term years ago. “Someone brought a rose for her. I shared my idea and she mentioned Kerri Schlater, who had lost a baby around the same time.”

She shared an idea about a gown made up from a wedding gown or prom dress. It’s around that time that Alexander contacted Schlater who had become a bereavement specialist before, during and after a birth with Sufficient Grace Ministries.org. Angel Baby Creations was formed and follows the guidelines set by Sufficient Grace.

Schlater also works at Mercer Health in Coldwater as a phlebotomist, and had received phone calls learning of complicated birth situations.

Alexander notes that Angel Baby Creations now has “20 people helping us – the Ft. Recovery sewing group, a lady from Russia, a group of five or six from Minster, people from Maria Stein, one from New Knoxville, another from Osgood – ripping, cutting patterns, sewing, knitting, crocheting.”

Angel Baby Creations came into being as such in February ’17, “We got gowns and got word out in the church bulletin, word of mouth, a prayer group at St. Charles, and then a lady from Ottawa donated 20 gowns.

“Bridal stores in St. Henry and Minster and Agape, the Ft. Recovery sewing group got involved crocheting bunting, booties and hats.”

Response has been “wonderful, with many stories why they want to give a gown, they’ve lost one or know someone who has.

“This effects more people than I ever thought. You learn by your tragedies and this is a way of helping with hopeless feelings for all involved.”

Holy water bottles have been donated for hospital baptisms. “The Shrine donated 300 at a very good price. Different people donate fleece, flannel, lace, teddy bears, Ty teddy bears, and vintage handkerchiefs. We’re very careful with how they’re made as the skin is very fragile.”

Alexander related about a baby’s size, “By two months the size of a kidney bean, by five months a banana or carrot, at six months more like an ear of corn beginning to add on weight.

“Our goal by the end of the summer is to get all the area hospitals involved – Coldwater, St. Marys, Sidney, Greenville and Portland hospitals.”

One of the items that   Angel Baby Creations is seeking to obtain is referred to as a “cuddle cot.”  “We learned about the cuddle cot which has cooling which slows down the mottling process.” That would allow time for relatives to come to pay their respects. “It’s on St. Marys volunteer lists, and Sidney rents one. As soon as we have enough outfits made, raise money for a cuddle cot ($3,000) and a ‘Moses’ basket, about $500.”

Alexander explained how they arrived at the Angel Baby Creations name. “Little angels that earn their wings too soon, the baby creation refer to parents, with God’s help, and also the sewers, rippers and knitters with the creation of the dresses, making the beautiful gowns with love. We figure it kind of covers all the bases.

“Joy and sorrow are measured by a heartbeat. ... loss to a parent is painful and lasting. The thing we can do is show the parents we care and love them.”

Any donations can go to Angel Baby Creations at Osgood State Bank-Chickasaw branch, (419) 925-4514.
 

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