Angel Gowns Offer a Comforting Touch

As the heartbreak of losing a baby lingers, a special garment known as an angel gown can offer a comforting touch. Angel Gowns are outfits made out of wedding dresses that are gifted to families who lose their babies. It is an endeavor that is undertaken with great love by volunteers who take the initiative to create the garments for parents who will never hold their child.

The process of making the tiny gowns takes up to 20 hours, and many seamstresses are able to produce a dozen or more gowns in that time frame. Each outfit is adorned with delicate ribbons, lace and other sequins, beads and appliques to make it unique to each family who receives the gown.

For the volunteers at Angel Gowns, it’s a labor of love that is a way of transforming a difficult situation into something more meaningful and beautiful. They hope that these gowns will bring a little bit of peace to grieving parents who will be unable to hold their precious child and will cherish the memory in the form of a cherished keepsake.

When Terry Bauer retired from her home economics job in Pickerington Schools, she longed to find a way to continue sewing for a cause. Scrolling through Facebook one night, she found a woman who sewed “angel gowns,” gowns and bonnets for infants who are stillborn or die as newborns.

Bauer began sewing for the organization in 2014, and she has likely made more than 1,000 gowns since then. She has been donating the outfits to organizations such as Columbus Christ Child Society, Touching Little Lives, NICU Helping Hands and Rest in His Arms. In addition, her Facebook page is filled with photos of thank you notes from the families who have received the dresses.

But she knows not everyone has the means to sew. To make the gowns more accessible to those who can’t afford the expense of a new sewing machine, Bauer has created kits that include fabric pre-cut to the exact size needed for each gown.

The kits were so popular, she has started a separate nonprofit, Andrew’s Angel Gowns, named for the son she and her husband lost at 18 weeks gestation. The organization has a waiting list for wedding dresses, but it is more in need of other supplies like fabric ribbon, Tide PODS, OxiClean laundry spray and Ziploc bags in one- to two-gallon sizes.

PVHMC’s NICU staff was touched by the story of Hillary’s Cherished Gowns and the generosity and compassion of the volunteer seamstresses who helped them provide gowns for our tiniest patients. We are grateful for the thoughtfulness of these volunteers and the support they have provided for our hospital’s bereavement program.

626,000 babies in the United States are born through stillbirth or miscarriage each year, and that’s almost one baby every minute. Whether the cause is birth defects, premature delivery or complications during pregnancy, it’s a loss that will never leave a parent’s heart.