A heartbroken mum who spent two weeks with her dead baby daughter now makes ‘angel dresses’ for other stillborn tots in her honour.
Lisa Fletcher, 44, gave birth to baby Lillie-Grace at 37 weeks term, the day after doctors told the mum-of-three her daughter had passed away in the womb.
But thanks to a cold cot, Lisa and husband Nik Fletcher, 34, were able to take Lillie-Grace home and even introduced her to their relatives.
Ever since their daughter’s death in October 2015, full-time mum Lisa and handyman Nik have devoted their lives to transforming hundreds of donated wedding frocks into funeral gowns known as ‘angel dresses’ for other babies who have passed away.
Mum-of-four Lisa, from Killamarsh, Derbyshire, said: "From the first moment I saw Lillie-Grace it was pure, unconditional love.
"I felt so proud because I was still a mum and I was able to hold her and kiss her and spend that time with her.
"Unless you’ve been through this you won’t understand.
"I carried my baby and she was part of my family, so I wanted to treat her as any other of my children.
"Parents in this position shouldn’t be frightened of getting judged or what people think. Love is love.
"Now, we keep Lillie-Grace’s memory alive by making these gowns for other babies to help parents going through this devastating journey.
"We believe that every baby no matter how small still deserves something special."
Lisa, who has three older children, had a straightforward pregnancy after conceiving through IVF, with her and Nik hoping to complete their family with a child of their own.
But tragedy struck just days before Lisa was due to give birth when doctors told the mum her little girl had died in the womb.
Lisa then had to face the heartache of having a c-section while knowing that Lillie-Grace was already dead.
She said: "As soon as the surgery was over, the doctors gave Lillie-Grace to Nik to hold her.
"She looked like a sleeping angel, she was absolutely perfect.
"Even the doctor said she looked beautiful. The staff treated her like she was a normal baby."
Lisa and Nik were then moved to a bereavement suite and the following day had their daughter baptised in the hospital chapel.
They spent two days in the hospital before they returned to their house to spend a precious night at home with their now-complete family.
Lisa introduced Lillie-Grace to her three other children as well as family and friends.
They also put her in her Moses basket at the foot of their bed for her first and final night at home.
She said: "We had already planned Lillie-Grace’s Christening and bought her dress, so even though she wasn’t with us it still felt the right thing to do.
"Being able to see the sun come through the stain glass windows while we held her in the chapel was wonderful.
"After we had her christened, we sat outside with her in the hospital garden and watched the autumn afternoon roll in.
"The one thing I wanted to do was to bring her home and put her next to my bed in her own cot, which we had already bought her.
"I introduced her to her grandparents and my best friends.
"They all said how perfect she looked. It was devastating though explaining to them what had happened.
"Being able to share her with the people I loved and to make memories with her was so special.
"We were all together, although it was a terrible situation, it was just perfect. We were able to bring her into our family and show her her home.
"Going to bed that night and knowing she was there was so peaceful and calming. We were all under one roof together."
The following day, the couple went to the funeral home where they visited Lillie-Grace daily in the eight days before her funeral.
The day before her funeral Lisa and Nik held Lillie-Grace for one final time before putting her in her tiny coffin with a parting letter.
Now, the couple visit their daughter’s grave four times a week and kiss it goodbye each time they leave.
Lisa and Nik now also devote themselves to making gowns for babies who pass away.
Each delicate white gown is sewn from donated wedding or bridesmaid dresses and sent to hospitals, funeral homes and families direct free of charge.
Lisa said: "Every time we visit Lillie-Grace, we tell her how much we miss her and how much we love her and how sorry we are that we won’t see her grow up.
"We make the dresses to help as many other families as we can who are yet to walk this devastating journey and give them something unique and special that is made with so much love for their beautiful little angels.
"Hopefully, it gives them a little comfort to know that they are not alone."
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