A Virginia woman is helping other mothers grieve in the wake of their losses of young loved ones.
Bridgette Crews, 39, was 34 weeks pregnant in 2010 when her unborn daughter, Molly, died.
She knew something was wrong when her daughter hadn't kicked in her stomach in a few hours.
"I pushed on my belly and felt absolutely nothing and started to cry," Crews told People.
When Crews and her husband, Chris, went to the hospital, they received bad news.
"The doctor came in and said 'There's no heartbeat,'" Crews said. "My husband screamed and cried and he never cries. It was horrendous."
The couple's daughter had died after a knot formed in the umbilical cord and also wrapped around her neck. Crews was induced and delivered her dead child that night. Molly weighed 4 pounds, 9 ounces.
Soon after, a devastated Bridgette went to a local Build-A-Bear Workshop, where she bought a bear that she later stuffed with rice she bought at a grocery store. She stuffed the bear until it weighed exactly 4 pounds, 9 ounces.
"Having her on my chest was the first time I could sleep through the night in weeks" she said. "Her weight did it. I slept with her and slept with her."
Crews told her support group about her creation and offered to make similar bears for the other grieving mothers. Lots of women were interested, so Crews decided to start Molly Bears, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating personalized teddy bears for families who have lost a baby or child in pregnancy or infancy. Each bear weighs what the child did.
Now, about 20 volunteer bear makers live across the U.S. Most of them are women who have had a child die prematurely.
To date, the team has made more than 10,000 bears, which have been shipped to families internationally.
"I know we are giving them a real tangible way to show the world their baby," Crews told People. "It's a Band-Aid on our hearts."
People can sign up for a bear, each of which can come with personalized details, on the last day of each month.
Stacey Skrysak, lost two of her three premature triplets.
"They are giving us something tangible to hold onto, which is a godsend when us angel parents are having those difficult moments," she says. "These volunteers are heroes to all of us who have lost a child."
"It's nice to be able to give people that peace and comfort, to reassure people that their babies matter no matter what anybody tells you," said volunteer bear maker Sabrina Kleymann, who's made at least 500 bears over the last four years. "For me, getting the bear was recognition I was allowed to love (my deceased children). It was something for me to hold and remind me it's okay to love them and miss them."
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