Lifestyle

For grieving parents, tiny baby clothes make a big difference

Jerrie Chan, a resident at Mitchell Place in Federal Way, welcomes local volunteers and donations to support Minutes of Gold. The non-profit organization is dedicated to assisting hospital maternity nurses in presenting stillborn babies to their grieving parents. - Andy Hobbs/The Mirror
Jerrie Chan, a resident at Mitchell Place in Federal Way, welcomes local volunteers and donations to support Minutes of Gold. The non-profit organization is dedicated to assisting hospital maternity nurses in presenting stillborn babies to their grieving parents.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

When a baby is stillborn, grieving parents need comfort and closure while dealing with their loss.

Minutes of Gold is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing that comfort in the form of clothing — allowing parents to see their baby dressed as a baby in the few minutes they spend together.

Minutes of Gold was started in 1992 by Carol Slaugh of Florence, Ore. The organization sends handmade layettes (a collection of clothing for newborns) to about 167 hospitals nationwide, including a handful of hospitals in the Puget Sound region. The layettes include a blanket, cap, gown, diaper and matching crocheted roses along with a poem on a card. The diapers are small enough to barely cover the palm of an adult’s hand.

When a baby is stillborn, nurses face the task of presenting the child to grieving parents and families. The gesture is sometimes marred by a lack of sensitivity. Some patients have told stories of nurses presenting the deceased baby in a metal pan or wrapped in a bloody hospital blanket.

Minutes of Gold’s website contains several testimonials from hospital employees who say the donations of layettes truly make a difference.

“The clothing helps our hospital convey to grieving families that their loss is just as significant and painful as that of an older family member,” reads a letter from Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Arizona. “It is one way we together can help them build memories of their short time with their babies.”

Jerrie Chan, a resident at Mitchell Place in Federal Way, has knitted nearly 300 blankets in the past three years for Minutes of Gold. Chan and five volunteers meet weekly in Federal Way. She knits one or two blankets a week. Donations are assembled for shipment in Florence, Ore.

The feedback from grateful parents makes the endeavor all the more worthwhile, Chan said, adding that she has received requests for baby clothing in a “triple small” size. Letters from parents express their appreciation for a thoughtful gesture during a time of unthinkable grief.

“It’s a labor of love,” said Chan, who suffered a miscarriage in her younger years. “You just can’t help but feel the love for these people.”

Get involved

Federal Way residents who wish to volunteer or donate can email Jerrie Chan at jerriec3@comcast.net. To learn more about Minutes of Gold, visit www.cm-inc.com/mog.

 

 

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