Angel Layettes: Tiny clothes made by a Tyler nonprofit group to enable parents of stillborn babies to hold their children without damaging the body

Published on Saturday, 24 August 2013 20:07 - Written by By Rebecca Hoeffner rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

In 2005, Lisa Peacock went in to the hospital carrying a 16-week-old baby inside her.

She left in a wheelchair, with no baby in her arms.

“I felt like I had a huge hole in my heart,” she said.

Baby girl Peacock’s heart had simply stopped beating, and her parents still aren’t completely sure why. When the Peacocks went to the hospital to induce labor, they were amazed at how developed their baby already was.

“You could see all her fingers and toes already,” Mrs. Peacock said.

Mrs. Peacock, who was 36 at the time, received a layette from Angel Layette in Tyler, which donates layettes to hospitals for stillborn babies all over the country. The nonprofit will begin its first annual direct-mail fundraising campaign next month.

“We’re the best-kept secret in East Texas,” said founder and president Sharon Sikes.

About 1-in-10 babies are stillborn because of various complications, Sikes said. The group delivered 1,500 layettes to parents at hospitals last year.

The capital campaign goal is $55,000 and will go toward the addition of two offices, more storage space and upgrading current storage at the Angel House at 10534 FM 2813 in Flint.

For Mrs. Peacock, the layette and the matching keepsake fabric heart touched her own.

“The meaning, for me, was that someone else saw value in her life,” Mrs. Peacock said. “She was only 16 weeks, and I didn’t think it would affect me as much as it did. … It’s so amazing what these ladies are doing. People don’t understand the need for it. It means a lot to me and my children, even now.”

Mrs. Sikes said there are about 30 women who volunteer to sew the tiny outfits.

“A friend told me about the charity,” said Nancy Hill, who has been volunteering for about four years. “I loved to sew, so when I came and saw everything, I knew it was the charity I wanted to be involved with. … It’s been a delight and a blessing, and now it’s my passion. The end result is most meaningful.”

When Mrs. Sikes was first starting the organization, she worked with nurses at Trinity Mother Frances to design layettes that would allow the parents to hold their baby without damaging the tiny body.

“God just always had me in bereavement,” she said. “No parent ever thinks that they are going to live past their children.”

Anyone wanting to contribute can do so by mail to P.O. Box 6618, Tyler, TX 75711 or on the website atwww.angellayettes.org .