Sunday, December 8, 2013
In early December 2008, I sat down at the computer late one night and typed up an email to my friends and family. It started with, "Christmas is just a few weeks away and we are so excited to see it through Ben’s eyes this year. Still, we continue to struggle with sadness because his big sister will not be here to share it with us. She would be two years old next month, and we miss her very much." I went on to invite everyone to donate a receiving blanket in Madeline's memory so that I could bring them to the hospital on her second birthday, in the hope that I could offer some small comfort to the next mother to deliver a stillborn child there. Within a couple of weeks I had been in the newspaper, had created a website, named my little effort the Sweet Pea Project and collected hundreds of blankets. On January 5th, 2008 (her 2nd birthday) I delivered the first box of blankets to the hospital where she was born. Now, 5 years later, we have donated over 6,000 blankets and 3,200 copies of Still. to 230 hospitals and bereavement organizations in all 50 states of the US and several other countries including Australia, Ireland and Canada. We've hosted a dozen free community events and our Sweet Pea Babies page honors more than one thousand beloved children. We've stood up and spoken out at every opportunity in an effort to break the silence and remove the stigma surrounding stillbirth and infant death. We do all this knowing that none of it will ever take away the pain of their deaths, but with hope that together we can create a more compassionate community for the broken families these precious children leave behind. Thank you to everyone who has helped us as we build this community, blanket by blanket, book by book, broken heart by broken heart, and thank you for allowing me the honor of being a small part of your child's remembrance. These past five years with Sweet Pea Project have been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, and I cannot wait to see what the next five years will bring.