Dress drive to help parents whose babies never come home

A group of local mothers is soliciting donations that will ultimately help provide comfort and support for parents whose babies never leave the hospital.
Oxford residents Nadine Heller, Erica DiCosmo and Tara Bean along with Kristi Steinhour, of Brandon Township, are collecting wedding and bridesmaid gowns and dresses, prom dresses and other formal frocks for the Garden City-based Angels Above Baby Gowns.
‘We want to show them that Oxford moms care,? DiCosmo said.
Angels Above transforms donated formal dresses into burial, or bereavement, gowns for infants who never make it home from the hospital because they’re either stillborn or died in the neonatal intensive care unit as a result of illness or premature birth.
These local ladies are collecting the dresses in honor of Addison Paige Nappe, who was stillborn at 32 weeks July 26 at Crittenton Hospital in Rochester Hills.
Addison was Steinhour’s niece and the daughter of Oxford residents Don and Kacey Nappe.
Kacey is Steinhour’s sister.
Kacey was at the hospital for an unrelated matter when she ‘mentioned that she hadn’t felt the baby move in about 12 hours,? according to Steinhour. Tests were conducted and determined that Addison had passed away.
‘They induced labor at that point and Kacey spent 24 hours in labor,? Steinhour said.
Addison’s death was a complete shock because there had been no issues with Kacey’s pregnancy.
‘There was no warning at all,? said Steinhour, who noted her sister had recently had an ultrasound test and ‘everything was fine.?
The dress drive to honor Addison’s memory is going quite well as the women have spread the word about it through a ‘secret? Facebook group called Oxford Mom Chatter (OMC). All four women are among the group’s 805 members. In order to join the three-year-old group, a person has to be added or invited by a member.
So far, the women have collected 27 formal frocks. The collection includes seven wedding gowns, 17 bridesmaid dresses, two communion dresses and a flower girl dress, according to Steinhour.
‘It’s been barely a week,? DiCosmo said. ‘Oxford moms care. I can’t think of a better community to be raising our children in. It’s amazing ? the (amount of) giving in this community and how moms really band together to support one another.?
Steinhour is extremely grateful for the outpouring of compassion and support.
‘It’s incredibly touching to know that I live in a community that is willing to reach out like this,? she said ‘I think it’s been a huge source of support for my sister to know that the community is out there. We’ve had countless moms who have been through the same thing reach out to both of us and (say), ‘We’re here if you need us.?
‘To see the community come together to support my sister is amazing,? Steinhour continued. ‘When you go through this, you feel very alone because it’s not something that’s talked about. To know that you have a community behind you is just a great feeling.?
The dress drive will continue through Aug. 17, but Steinhour noted, ‘We’re more than willing to go longer if we need to.? Those interested donating can contact her at (248) 379-0506.
Steinhour said the bereavement gowns help parents in a variety of ways. One, it immediately gives them a proper garment in which to bury their child.
‘To have this provided, it’s one less stress, one less worry for the parents,? she explained. ‘It’s something beautiful for both baby boys and baby girls.?
The bereavement gowns are more suited for tiny infant bodies than typical newborn clothing, which is ‘just too big? and often involves buttons or snaps, according to Steinhour.
‘It’s something that slips on and just ties in the back,? she said. ‘It’s much easier for them to dress the baby.?
When Addison died, her family wasn’t aware of Angels Above Baby Gowns, so Steinhour watched her sister ‘struggle? while trying to dress her in a regular newborn outfit.
‘When babies are born so young, it’s not easy to get them dressed,? she said. ‘That was a really big source of frustration for her, trying to get (Addison) dressed without hurting her. They’re fragile. It was really difficult to watch her go through that.?
For parents who choose not to bury their babies in these gowns, Steinhour said they make a ‘beautiful keepsake? of their child.
Even though Addison has already been buried at the Guardian Angel Cemetery in Rochester Hills, Angels Above still sent her parents a bereavement gown along with bracelets for mother and child, a blanket, a knit hat, two Christmas ornaments and a small bag in which to place special items.
?(My sister) knows about it and she’s grateful for any support at this point,? Steinhour said. ‘They’re so very, very broken and very, very numb. They’re still trying to figure out why (this happened). I know that in the future (having the gown) will mean something to her, but right now, I don’t know that she can grasp it, to be honest.?
DiCosmo noted she has a friend in the community whose daughter, Madison, was stillborn a while ago.
‘It’s just as heartwrenching eight years later,? she said.
Steinhour wished to reiterate how thankful she is for all the support.
‘Personally, I am incredibly grateful to the community of Oxford and everybody that has reached out,? she said. ‘There’s people taking (Addison’s parents and siblings) meals for the next two weeks. It’s huge to live in a community that is there to support each other.?
‘It’s fantastic to see moms rally behind each other,? DiCosmo added. ‘It’s nice to see them building each other up and making every moment count.?