The Bella Quilt and Story

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I made this quilt for my friend and neighbor Brittany, whose family moved to New York from Monterey at the same time we.  We ended up living across the street from one another, which seemed perfect as we both had small children and we were both pregnant.  We spent the summer going to the park together with our children, passing each other when coming and going almost daily, and, of course, talking about baby things.  It seemed like everything was perfect.

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After Lydia was born, my excitement turned toward Brittany having her baby.  We didn’t see each other as often, as the weather turned colder and I was busy with a newborn, but we still chatted a few times a week and by text and Facebook.  Then, the unthinkable happened.  At 41 weeks, the baby died.  Brittany was scheduled to be induced on Sunday, but text me on Saturday night saying that she hadn’t been feeling well, so she went to the hospital and the baby didn’t have a heartbeat.

Bella-Quilt-3

When I saw the text Sunday afternoon {my parents had been visiting, so I’d lost track of my phone} I was in shock.  I thought it was going to say that baby had arrived before her induction, but instead it contained the news that this loved and waited for baby would never be coming home.

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Brittany and her husband, Greg, named their precious girl Bella, the nickname their daughter, Caroline, had always called the baby before she was born.  Even though that wasn’t intended to be her name, they felt it was the right thing to call her.  In spite of doing everything right for Bella, something had gone terribly wrong.  Yet, there is still no known cause of Bella’s death.

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This little pillow, which accompanied the quilt, was made for Caroline, who, at 5-years-old, has also suffered the loss of her baby sister.

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As Brittany has shared her story through Facebook and her blog, I have been touched by her heartache and strength since the loss of Bella.  One of her goals is to help raise awareness at how common pregnancy loss really is, of which I really had no idea, and support research toward prevention.

Bella-Quilt-&-Pillow

It is difficult for me to write this post because I feel that nothing I say will really do their story justice. I cannot even begin to imagine what they must be going through.  I hope this quilt and pillow brings their family some comfort, even if it is just in the knowledge that their precious Bella Joy will always be remembered and loved.

While I was making this quilt, I searched for an organization that donates quilts to families who have lost their babies before birth, but couldn’t find anything.  If you have any information on this, I would be very interested in getting involved in some way.

This quilt was made with Bella by Lotta Jansdotter using my Take-Along quilt tutorial.  It was quilted by Cindy of Tops to Treasures.

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a mom, sewer, quilter, and lover of all kinds of pretty fabric and handbags!

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Comments

  1. says

    So many people do not think of doing something special for a mother who has lost her baby in a miscarriage. Even though the baby has not been seen, she has been felt in the heart and is loved. What a great way to honor the memory of your friend’s baby.
    Missy recently posted..Finished Top!My Profile

    • Brittany says

      Missy, I am very open about my story because it is important to me to do my part to help others understand more about stillbirth. While I don’t want to minimize the devastation of miscarriage, stillbirth is NOT miscarriage. If a baby dies at any time from 16 weeks on, the mother will go though labor and delivery. So the baby is very much “seen” and doesn’t just go away when its heart stops beating. In my case, I labored and delivered an almost 8-pound perfect, beautiful girl. She was bathed, dressed in her newborn clothing, baptized, held, swaddled, kissed, and rocked. We took many photos of her. We purchased a child-sized casket and held a memorial service and laid her to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. Our dear friend and talented photographer did a beautiful job capturing our story if you would like to take a look. http://www.elizabethshawphotography.com/2013/12/17/after-all-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things-this-is-a-love-story/#more-949. I only mention this because on the outside it might just seem like semantics, but many mothers find it very painful when someone refers to their stillborn baby as a “miscarriage” (as I’m sure was not your intention).

  2. says

    such a terrible tragedy. A friend of mine had a stillborn baby at 41 weeks – this is not a miscarriage as Missy above calls it – it’s a stillbirth. Another friend lost a baby at 6 months. It is horribly common. In the UK we have SANDS – a charity for families who have lost their unborn child. I wonder if they have this in the US too?
    wendy recently posted..chair cushionsMy Profile

  3. says

    Oh, how sad for the family and what a great comfort your quilt and pillow memorial is now and will be in the future. Prayers for Brittany and her family and hope for their future. God bless you.
    hugzzzz

  4. says

    Jennie, I am honored to share little Bella’s story on our blog. Your quilt and pillow are beautiful and I know made with such love for their family!

  5. katie says

    my friend Jennifer experienced a similar still birth last year — it’s truly heartbreaking. she to was in the process of delivery and with no know cause he was gone. Our local hospitals have a photographer that comes in to do photos for the families in this case and for babies that are high risk but as far as i know there isn’t much else to bring light to this subject. She is working on a movie project called “Return to Zero” and facilitating awareness.

    • Brittany says

      Return to Zero will air on Lifetime in the US on May 17th at 8 p.m. eastern time. Bella Joy’s name will be seen in the “memorial” section after the film as our family supported the project.

  6. Rosmary says

    i lost a baby as well. As a mother of 5 healthy children, 9 grandchildren and a great-grandson, my heart goes out to this family and all the families who have experience this loss. If you do hear of anything or anywhere we can donate quilts, etc., please post it. I think it’s a wonderful thing you did for them.

  7. Sigi G says

    My heart really goes out to them. Though I never experienced it myself, my nephew with his wife lost their first born almost in the same sequence of advents. It is just so heart breaking. It is so nice how you are reaching out to them! We too will keep them in our prayers.

  8. GabiP says

    My heart aches for this young family and my heart rejoices to know that they have loving friends such as yourselves that can embrace and love them. What a sweet and wonderful thing to quilt something so lovingly for them. Blessings to this family and yours.

    In Tennessee, I believe there are baby/toddler quilts that local guilds make for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and Knoxville Children’s Hospital in Knoxville. I do not know the circumstances that these quilts are given to the recipient. Sorry, I will try to find out and report back.

  9. dannyscotland says

    I am so very, very sorry for your dear friend’s loss. There is nothing anyone could ever say to make this less difficult. I am just so sorry, I can’t even come up with anything else to say, I am so sad for you and your friend and her little daughter who has lost her sister. I’ll just include them, and you, in my prayers and offer my most sincere and heartfelt condolences to her and her family, and to you, too. Because that baby was special to you, too.

  10. says

    It is something you think happens to someone else and never to you. When it does it is like a nightmare you can’t wake up from. My thoughts and prays are with Brittany and her family. The quilt and pillow will be treasured as they are made with thought and love.

  11. Patti says

    A stillbirth is so difficult because you travel almost the entire journey of a pregnancy with all it’s attendant hopes and dreams for your child-to-be, only to come home empty handed and broken hearted. The quilt and pillow will be such a treasure. There is a group in our city that makes quilts for stillborn babies through the hospital. That may be a place to start. Similarly, there is a special place in one of our local cemeteries where stillborn babies lay. Each year there is a memorial for the babies and their families. It is often overlooked that even in our modern society these sad events still happen. Talking about it helps heal and create awareness. Thank you.

  12. Kay says

    This is such a beautiful present which will be treasured. I cried reading this post, I have not had a still born baby but did have 3 miscarriages and cannot imagine the pain they must all be going through. Prayers and blessings. xx

  13. Jen says

    I just had my 4th loss on Thursday, the 3rd in a row that was a 2nd trimester loss. Those 3 were delivered in the hospital and each time we received different items that had been donated. This time there was a knitted small blanket. I am sure if you contact your local hospital, they would love any donations of handmade items that you want to give.

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