ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Losing a baby may be the hardest thing a parent can ever go through, but a partnership between Mercy Hospital and a St. Louis County volunteer group aims to make that a little easier by giving the parents a little something to remember.
The group takes wedding gowns and turns them into little gowns for babies that never make it home from the hospital. They take pictures of the babies so the parents can have a lasting memory of their little one, and the babies are buried in them.
NewsChannel 5 talked to a couple who credits this with helping them grieve.
"Parents who go through a loss are going through one of the most difficult things they could ever experience. And any beautiful memento that we can give to them helps them to heal," said Maggie Loyet.
Loyet is a nurse in the Neonatal ICU at Mercy Hospital. She also coordinates Mercy Heartprints, a program that works with parents after losing a baby. Volunteers with a program called Newborns in Need take wedding dresses, sow them into gowns, and then donate them.
"So we try to dress the baby in a beautiful gown, and then we take photos. And those are treasured by them for the rest of their lives," Loyet said.
"That's our keepsake," said Tiffany Jackson.
Tiffany and Hakim Jackson lost their daughter, Paris, in August. Tiffany says she'd stopped noticing movement, so she went to Mercy to get checked out.
"I go to the hospital and they do an ultrasound and they said there's no heartbeat," she said.
She was eight and a half months pregnant.
"We were devastated. I was in shock. I didn't have words," Jackson said.
But Mercy Heartprints stepped in.
"When they gave us the gown, they put it on her and presented her to us in the gown, I was speechless."
"I think it was a strong transition for us as we were moving forward with the procedures of what we needed to do. It eased a lot of tension and questions and just made us at peace to see our daughter taken care of," her husband Hakim Jackson tells us.
Eight months later, the Jackson say losing their daughter still hurts, but they're much better.
"We actually are expecting another little girl. That was Paris. This is London. So we are expecting her in August again, because Paris was born in August. The Lord blessed us and we're going," said Tiffany.
Anybody can donate their wedding gown to Newborns in Need. The Greater St. Louis Arch Chapter has been around for 12 years and has about 25-30 volunteers. You can contact them through their Facebook page or by calling 636-227-7450.
They also work with several non-profits to donate clothes, diapers, and other newborn baby needs for parents who need a little helping hand.
A wedding gown drop-off will also be happening at Ellisville Baptist Church, which is located at 137 Clarkson Road in Ballwin, Saturday. Dresses can be dropped off between 8 and 11 a.m. Tax receipt can also be provided.