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A Thanksgiving to Remember -- from Wedding Dress to Angel Gowns

Last Updated on Monday, November 28, 2016

By Eleni Tsigas, Executive Director

Preeclampsia affects both mother and her baby in many ways. One of the most devastating outcomes is the death of that child.

The loss of a baby – either through stillbirth, around the time of delivery, or after days or weeks in the NICU – leaves a family devastated, charting new territory, and wondering how to move forward emotionally, but also practically. Major decisions about planning a funeral, having last moments or photos with your baby, what to name your child, all can be crippling when your heartache is so big you can’t put a coherent thought together.

Sending a family member or worse yet, going yourself, to your local Babies ‘R Us store to find an outfit for your baby – the first and last he or she will ever wear – has left many in anguish as the sounds of joy and laughter fill the store. Finding a teeny tiny outfit for a micro-preemie or the right kind of outfit for a full-term baby is nearly impossible.

A sensitive and much-needed service – Angel Gowns – is available in many parts of the US, usually supplying the hospitals directly with a variety of outfits and sizes. In some cases, the service is available directly to the families in need.

Here in Brevard County, Florida, where the Preeclampsia Foundation is headquartered, a loving and talented woman has assembled 25 seamstresses to create these outfits from donated wedding gowns. When I first read about this service, I thought back to my own wrenching experience trying to find an outfit for my stillborn daughter – all 2.5 pounds of her – and ironically, my mother’s very recent plea to finally get my two-decades-old wedding-dress-with-the-long-train out of her cedar closet. Although I went on to have two amazing sons, I would never have another daughter. My gown would not be worn again. What more fitting journey than to have it transformed into numerous gowns for babies, like mine, who deserve the finest fleeting image of beauty.

My afternoon with Angel Gowns owner Kathy Charest was emotional, but uplifting. We shared our stories with each other and I promised to spread the word about her beautiful ministry. As I turned over my wedding gown, I was filled gratitude and contentment.

Turning your wedding gown into a priceless gift for a family who has to endure what is likely the biggest heartbreak they will ever endure is a treasure you can give this season.

If you know a family that needs such an outfit for their precious baby, do an online search for an Angel Gowns organization near you.

And if you like to sew, consider donating your time to a local Angel Gowns organization. As one seamstress emotionally shared, "When I do these, I think about the christening, the first communion, the prom they never went to, the wedding they never had. That's why it's so touching to me."


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