Arie and Shayla Van Hofwegen founded Owl Love You Forever to help turn tragedy into joy… this is their story. You can also visit their personal blog at www.wegentales.blogspot.com.
How It All Began
After battling infertility for two years and experiencing two miscarriages, we finally got the news we had been prayingfor. We were expecting twins! We were cautiously excited! We made it past the first trimester, which is the furthest we had ever gone before. The big ultrasound appointment revealed two very healthy babies, a baby boy and a baby girl. We could not have been more thrilled! However, our joy was short lived due to preterm labor caused by an infection and/or incompetent cervix. We ended up in the hospital at just 22 weeks along, praying and trying everything possible to stop the labor. However, it continued to progress and we were blessed by the birth of Arie James and Hadilyn Faith on May 24, 2010. Arie was born an angel and Hadilyn lived for a few short minutes. We were given an amazing opportunity to spend time with the twins, bathing them, dressing them, and taking pictures with them in our hospital room. This time will forever be invaluable to us.
Why the Blanket Sets?
Having to say goodbye just a few hours after the twin’s birth was extremely difficult. When the nurse asked what I wanted Arie & Hadilyn to wear for their burial, my heart sank. They had only worn one outfit and had only been wrapped in one blanket each and I wanted to keep those items with me forever. Families shouldn’t have to deal with this decision. What if we could give each mom a set of two matching blankets? The twins weighing just one pound each were too small for a full size receiving blanket; so the set of blankets could include two different sizes. One smaller size that would swaddle a preemie baby perfectly, and the other a full size receiving blanket for moms that make it full term. Each family has a choice of which size to wrap their baby in and then they could keep the extra matching blanket for themselves as a memento.
Do you know how to sew? We are always in need of more blanket sets, click on the link below to see the instructions on how to make the blankets. If you would like to donate some blanket sets please email email@example.com.
Why the Stuffed Owls?
Having to leave the hospital with empty arms and a broken heart was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do. No one else should experience this! Sadly, our very own cousins experienced something very similar, just mere months later, during the birth of their baby girl, Reese. I brought her the softest bear I could find to make sure her arms would have something to hold when she left the hospital. She was so touched by the gesture, I knew each mom that lost a baby should be given something to fill her arms. A soft and cuddly stuffed owl would be perfect for a mom to hold and love on.
Why the Boxes?
After going through all that we had those few days in the hospital, we felt so alone. It was hard for our family and friends, because they didn’t know what to say or how to help. We felt as if no one had ever walked this road, and surely we would never know someone who would go through this in the future. When we walked by our cousins’ side a few months later, we began to see a need. Hospitals could provide boxes to families with specific items for parents that would have to say goodbye to their baby at the hospital.