Thursday, June 14, 2012

Teeny Tears

I am taking the time this summer to highlight organizations that help preemies. As you can see on the right column of the blog, I've been trying to connect our readers to some wonderful orgs. The one you will learn about today is very special. So special, in fact, that I asked for a guest post from my blogger friend, Janna, about it. Here you go.
Hello Life with Jack readers!
When Jessi asked me to guest post about Teeny Tears on her blog, I was excited and a little nervous! I've never been a guest blogger before, but here goes.
On June 5, 2011, at 25 weeks, our identical twin boys came into this world. We had a difficult pregnancy from the very start. By 18 weeks I was having contractions and put on bedrest. At 22 weeks I was admitted to the hospital due to a shortening cervix and the beginning stages of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. We were given “the talk” that if our boys were born in the next few days that they weren't viable and wouldn't survive. We knew that our boys were going to be born early, it was just a matter of how early they were going to come. We were scared to death as we didn't know what the future was going to hold for our family.
After a few weeks of close monitoring in the hospital things took a quick turn for the worse. Our son Carter was looking very sick on ultrasounds and the doctors decided they needed to be delivered. Carter was born at 2 lbs and he gave this world his very best fight before passing away shortly after birth. His brother Cohen was born at 1 lb 8 oz with sick lungs and in kidney failure. Cohen was a sick little boy who fought against everything thrown at him – kidney failure, a PDA, a horrible unheard of skin infection, ROP, 2 months on a ventilator, lung bleeds, a small brain bleed, and an enlarged heart. After 130 days in the NICU, Cohen finally got to come home. We were so excited and terrified. Cohen just recently had his first birthday and he is doing extremely well considering his beginnings. Preemies truly are such miracles (right Jack?)!

baby Cohen fighting for his life

With Carter's death came a ton of emotions – guilt, sadness, anger, disbelief and a need to keep his memory alive. To say that we were absolutely devastated would be an understatement. This wasn't the way things were supposed to go, parents aren't suppose to bury their children. We were supposed to be worrying about how we were going to fit the double stroller in the car and whether we could afford all the diapers that come with twins. Not about funerals and headstones. We felt like we living in a nightmare that we couldn't wake up from. We were filled with joy for Cohen and the obstacles he was overcoming, but at the same time we were heartbroken that Carter was gone. No one is ever prepared to bury their child and we were no exception, we had nothing to dress our little boy in and even preemie clothes would have been way too big. Thankfully, the hospital provided a little gown and hat to bury him in. I am so thankful for the things of Carter's that I have today as these often feel like all we have left of him. We know that he is at peace and safe in the arms of Jesus, but we miss him so much every single day.
After 5 months of living hours from home in a hotel, we were finally together under one roof. We started to stumble around looking for what would be our new “normal”. Over Christmas, we decided to take care packages to the NICU where Cohen had stayed. I  knew that I wanted to do something in memory of Carter but couldn't quite figure out what it was. As I was searching for patterns to make hats for NICU babies, I stumbled across a photo on Pinterest. It was of teeny, tiny flannel diapers made just for preemie and micropreemie babies that had passed away. I clicked over to the blog and instantly knew this was something I had to be a part of.
“Teeny Tears is a service organization that provides tiny flannel diapers at no charge to hospitals and bereavement support organizations for families that have suffered the loss of a preemie or micropreemie child through stillbirth of NICU loss.”

Teeny Tears diapers come in two sizes and fit babies from around 18-32 weeks, those that are too small to fit in a conventional diaper. Each family is given two flannel diapers, one for baby and one for the family as a keepsake. Each set of diapers also comes with a small “In memory of” card for families who have lost children to put their child's name on. Many people also like to send along small hats or blankets (knit, crocheted or sewn) with the diapers and hospitals are usually thrilled to receive these as well.

I think these diapers are so important for many reasons. They validate for families and hospitals that these babies are babies. They are someone's child and they deserve to be recognized as that. Our hope is that these little diapers will bring comfort to grieving families. They provide dignity and modesty to even the tiniest babies. We had a Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photographer come and take photos of Carter and I think it would have been so sweet to have him in a cute little diaper. I would have loved getting to do something as “normal” as putting a diaper on him, just once. Making these diapers has been an amazingly healing project for me. I have met some wonderful, selfless people, many of whom know what it's like to lose a child and are now joining forces to help other families. It has helped me to carry on Carter's memory and it has also brought me peace and purpose in the midst of pain. My hope and prayer is that these diapers will bring a small amount of comfort to other grieving families during an incredibly difficult time.

handmade diapers that Janna for Teeny Tears

There are several ways you can get involved in Teeny Tears, even if you don't sew:
1)               Donate financially. Go to the Teeny Tears website and click on the “donate” button. Quick and easy!
2)               Donate flannel or cut out diapers. You can go to the Teeny Tears website, download the patterns, cut out diapers and either get them to someone you know who can sew, or mail them in to Teeny Tears to be sewn. This is a HUGE help!!
3)               Sew diapers.  Whether you want to work solo or gather up your friends, family, or church group and have a “diaper party”, there are huge needs to fill in the bereavement area. Hospitals are generally desperate to get these diapers and there is an ongoing list of places requesting them. If you have a specific hospital in mind that you would like to sew and donate diapers to, let Teeny Tears know and they can help you lay the groundwork for donations.
4)               Shop online. If you don't have the time or resources for diapers but you do shop online, this is perfect for you. Go to and download the iGive button. Whenever you shop online at a participating store, a certain percentage will be given to Teeny Tears. There is a $5 bonus just for signing up and another $5 bonus if you make a purchase within 45 days.

miracle Cohen today... how cute is he?!
checking out the diapers
If you have questions or want to get involved, please visit the Teeny Tears website , email or check out the Teeny Tears Facebook page.

Janna and her husband live in the state of Washington. You can check out what they are up to on their wonderful blog, Keeping Up With the Kimmels. Also, for a good laugh, do yourself a favor and read all of Janna's Fess Up Fridays. You won't be disappointed!
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mouse said...

These are so beautiful and such a special idea. I love that they are in such a range of colours and patterns to to really be able to choose for your baby, the way you would for any outfit for whatever you believe suits them best. They look a real celebration as well as a precious symbol.

Jessi said...

I keep on re-reading your post... I just love it. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

Megan B ♥ said...

Thank you, so much, Jessi and Jana, for highlighting Teeny Tears on "Life With Jack!" Jana's story of her boys is beautiful and I am blessed to have her in my life. We really appreciate everyone who has clicked over to Teeny Tears to see what we are all about!

Megan Bradshaw
Teeny Tears

The Kimmels said...

Thank you so much for posting this. As you know Teeny Tears is very close to my heart! It was a nice surprise to come home from work and see this post :)