URBANA — One woman suffered a heartbreaking loss when her triplets died. But now she’s making handmade gifts to give to families who have been through the same thing.
Lesa Brandt knows first hand what it’s like to lose her babies, so she decided to hand sewn gowns to give to families who have lost their children too. They symbolize a special memory of them and she hopes it will bring families some comfort.
Brandt says, “It’s really sad the number of people who I’ve come in contact with after my loss who have also experienced the same loss.”
Two years ago, Brandt triplets died. She had a smooth pregnancy and doctors say there were no concerns. But that all changed when she started to get unusual cramps.
Brand describes what her doctor told her. “She came in and said I have some bad news.”
Her babies died shortly after childbirth. The hospital gave her a gift when she lost her children.
“The boxes had little hats and blankets and just some keepsake items.”
But she felt something was missing.
“Of course we didn’t have anything for the babies because everything we had was for a full term baby.”
So she had an idea to hand make something special and unique for every family who had suffered the same loss. That’s when she started making the giving gowns.
“Anybody who could sow, we asked them to bring their sowing machine and our goal was to make enough gowns to meet the annual need.”
Carle Hospital says they see about 80 babies die each year because of birth complications.
Pam Hulten works in with gift giving operations at Carle. She says, “We have a couple areas where the losses happen. We have our NICU which is the level three perinatal unit.”
She repurposes peoples’ wedding gowns. Usually the dresses are left lying around. She wants to put them to good use, and use them to comfort families through their loss.
“There’s cards included with the gowns that say this was made in honor of our triplets by our family and friends because that shows that even thought the folks receiving the gowns may not know us, they have a support system.”
She wants to be a special support to other families and give them a gift to hold on to.
“I really just try to pay it forward in that way and make sure that I’m doing whatever I can for people who are in the same situation.”
Brandt now has a little boy and a girl on the way. But she hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to lose her children. So she plans to continue the giving gown project in years to come. She will start sewing a new collection at the end of this year. The team of volunteers just finished making the 80 gowns. Carle will start offering them to families at the hospital this week.