** NOTE: Words in italics were changed or added to correct misspelled or misquoted information.
Camas MOMS Club members crochet afghans
for local hospital intensive care units
Story and photos by Danielle Frost, Post-Record staff
It was every expectant mother's worst fear.
On August 10, 2008 Laurinda Reddig gave birth, expecting to bring home a baby. Her daughter Rowan lived only one day. She was born blue and unable to breathe due to an umbilical cord problem that cut off her oxygen supply. Lifesaving efforts failed. There was nothing the doctors could do. Reddig made the heart wrenching decision to take her baby off life support.
Rowan was wrapped in a handmade afghan. The nurses made clay molds of her hands and feet. Reddig's 3-year-old son Griffin was brought in to say goodbye to his baby sister. She was bathed for the first and last time, and cuddled until she passed away in her mother's arms.
Reddig was given the handmade afghan and a quilt to take home. "These are the only things that parents in this situation get to bring home and cuddle," she said.
Through her grief, Reddig saw a way to help others. She is administrative vice president for the Moms Offering Moms Support Club and the group was looking for a service project.
"It is my job to come up with projects that give back to our community," she said. "I knew the club was looking for a project that had personal meaning to our members. I saw the blankets and thought that this would be something we can do."
Reddig, who has a passion for crocheting, brought her idea to the club. The response was overwhelming. "This is an activity that has encouraged both moms of young children and those who have older kids to get involved," she said. "This is something that everyone can be a part of and it is neat to see how much everyone has gotten into it.
Reddig hosted a "learn to crochet" event at her house for mom's night out. One of the participants was Camas MOMS Club president Trisha Brotherton.
"I am not a crafty person at all, but I've really enjoyed learning how to do this," she said. "It has been so good for us as a club. Laurinda's been an inspiration to us. It's so bittersweet because you are giving a blanket to someone whose baby has died. But at the same time, this has helped Laurinda through her grief."
Brotherton said that members of the MOMS Club were especially supportive of the project because it has such a personal meaning. "Any mom recognizes that losing a baby is a possibility, and we all want to help those whom it's happened to," she said.
Although the six months since baby Rowan died have been difficult, Reddig has found healing through the crocheting project. "This gives me something to focus on and a way to spend my 'unexpected free time,'" she said. "This has gotten me back into teaching crochet and I love sharing my passion for something with other people. I was just overwhelmed by the support that came pouring in from the MOMS Club."
Since the club began the project, MOMS clubs in northwest Vancouver and Spokane have agreed to make blankets to donate in memory of Rowan. Quilts will be the next phase of the project.
The club is hosting a "Remembering Rowan" baby blanket open house and reception at the Camas Public Library on March 10 to celebrate the first phase of the project. The event is open to the public.
"We decided it would be nice to have all our finished blankets on display so our members and those who have donated supplies for the project can view the blankets," Brotherton said.
Camas MOMS Club member Carissa Reid has crocheted two blankets since getting involved in the project. "I thought this was a really good thing for Laurinda to do after losing Rowan," she said. "This seemed like a very sweet way to channel our energies to help other parents.
Reid said that it was a bit awkward at first because no one knew for sure what to say or do. "This was a great way for us to get together and let whatever feelings there were about it to come out," she said. "It's been an awesome project and I'd like to see it continue."
Reddig agrees. Although the project idea came from the heartbreaking loss of a child, it will be a comfort to parents who leave the hospital with nothing to hold onto but dreams. "This project is something that moms can take part in and feel good about," she said. "And I want to thank everyone for being a part of it.