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A Kansas mom who is aware of the wrenching heartache of dropping a child has turned her grief right into a mission to assist others. She makes souvenir units to honor quick however treasured lives.

When Amanda Smith went into labor in a hospital in Wichita, along with her son Robby in February 2012, she was simply over 22 weeks pregnant. 

When Robby was born three days later, on Feb. 24, 2012, he was thought-about to be beneath the purpose of viability — and lived for simply two hours, she advised Fox Information Digital.

“Robby was born at 1 pound 4.4 ounces and 12 inches lengthy. He was early and tiny, however he was excellent,” Smith additionally stated.

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As she and her husband Tanner had anticipated to have a number of extra weeks of preparation earlier than their kid’s arrival, they weren’t ready within the slightest. 

“We did not have a digicam and we did not have a particular hat or blanket for him,” she stated. “Our type nurse searched excessive and low for a hat on the hospital that may be sufficiently small to suit his tiny head.”

Though there weren’t any sufficiently small to suit the pinnacle of a child simply over a pound and 1 / 4, a nurse got here with a “very treasured small blue hat with a pom-pom on the high,” Smith stated.

mom dad tiny baby

Dad and mom Tanner and Amanda Smith, together with their child, Robby, shortly after their son was born prematurely in 2012.  (Undertaking Robby)

And whereas the hat was “totally too huge,” it grew to become extremely particular to Smith within the wake of her infant’s passing. 

“Even after I now not had Robby to carry onto, I had his hat,” she stated. “That little blue hat introduced me consolation on numerous events once I wanted to really feel near him.”

“It isn’t only a hat. It represents Robby’s life. It was a brief life, however he mattered; he was liked, and he was right here.”

“I slept with it, I carried it round in my hoodie pocket once I was at dwelling, and once I left I put it into my purse and took it alongside,” she continued. 

“I didn’t have my child, however I had that small piece of him.” 

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As Smith progressed in her grief, she stated she “stopped counting on the consolation of that hat.”

She continued, “It isn’t only a hat. It represents Robby’s life. It was a brief life, however he mattered; he was liked, and he was right here. That hat is a bodily reminder of his existence.”

About two-and-a-half years after her son died, Smith was moved by the latest loss of life of her grandfather — whom Robby was named after — to channel her grief into one thing extra concrete to honor her son.

“I spotted that the best way to honor his life can be to gather tiny hats and blankets for the hospital … the place he was born.”

“I simply didn’t know what or how,” she stated.

“On a day that I used to be having a very tough grief day, as I used to be holding Robby’s hat, I spotted that the best way to honor his life can be to gather tiny hats and blankets for the hospital in Wichita, Kansas, the place he was born,” she stated. 

“I began by contacting the hospital the place he was born to ask in the event that they wanted such a donation, they usually very excitedly stated ‘sure,’ as they didn’t obtain donations like that.”

Smith and her mom enlisted the assistance of household and pals to assist make the blankets and hats — on the time, neither of them knew the way to crochet. 

workshop shelves crochet blankets

Undertaking Robby’s Kansas headquarters is proven right here; it comprises handmade crocheted gadgets organized by measurement and ready to be despatched to grieving households. (Undertaking Robby)

She additionally turned to her weblog, which she had began to doc her being pregnant with Robby. Following his loss of life, she wrote about how she was dealing with the grief. 

“I made a decision to jot down out our story and discuss his hat, how vital it was (and nonetheless is) to me, and why I wished to have the ability to donate tiny hats for infants born prematurely who sadly don’t survive,” she stated. 

“I used to be so fearful that we wouldn’t attain our aim.”

Her preliminary aim was to donate 50 hats and 50 blankets, with a stretch aim of 100 hats and 100 blankets.

“I used to be so fearful that we wouldn’t attain our aim,” she stated. 

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Because it turned out, she didn’t have a lot to fret about. 

The weblog put up was shared all over the world, and from August 2014 till February 2015, pals, households and full strangers donated sufficient hats and blankets to fill 13 Rubbermaid containers, stated Smith.

“I truthfully thought after we delivered our donation to [the hospital] that we might be carried out and our ‘mission’ can be accomplished,” she continued.

“I consider our hearts actually lead us.”

This was removed from the case: What would change into “Undertaking Robby” was simply starting. 

Different hospitals from throughout the U.S. heard about Smith’s donation of tiny hats and blankets. They started reaching out, seeing in the event that they, too, may obtain blankets and hats for his or her smallest sufferers. 

baby boy hat blue

Child Robby Smith solely lived for 2 hours when he was born at 23 weeks’ gestation on Feb. 24, 2012, in Wichita, Kansas.  (Undertaking Robby)

“That is once we began working towards changing into a nonprofit group, so we may proceed our mission of serving to households with angel infants,” stated Smith. 

Smith named the nonprofit Undertaking Robby after her son. Smith and her mom run the 100% volunteer group out of their headquarters in Kansas. 

“After our preliminary donation,” stated Smith, “we continued to obtain many various gadgets from wonderful women all around the world.”

“Being pregnant and Toddler loss will be an uncomfortable matter for our society, however it is a crucial matter.”

Amongst these things had been hats, blankets, booties, cradles, cocoons and most notably, angel wings. 

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“Once we began to obtain angel wings within the mail from completely different crocheters, we determined that we might add the angel wings to every Undertaking Robby Bereavement Set, and once we began the Memento Set program, we determined so as to add the angel wings to these as properly,” Smith stated. 

blanket angel wings hats twins

Two Undertaking Robby Memento Units are proven right here. Amanda Smith and her mom assemble all of the units by hand; they depend on intuition when selecting out gadgets. (Undertaking Robby)

The Memento Set program started in 2017, when Smith realized that some girls who misplaced their infants early in being pregnant had nothing bodily to symbolize their kids.

Or, maybe they weren’t far sufficient alongside in their being pregnant to be in labor or to be cared for in a hospital’s supply unit.

“After I say that we care about their grief and their child, I imply it with my entire coronary heart.”

A Undertaking Robby Memento Set comprises a size-appropriate hat, blanket and angel wings for people who’ve misplaced kids from 4 to 36 weeks gestation. 

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Bereavement units, sized for kids from 18 to 40 weeks gestation, are offered to each hospitals and bereavement photographers for kids who’re born too early and won’t survive. 

keepsake set hat blanket

Those that request Undertaking Robby Memento Units are in a position to request a particular shade. Many dad and mom who lose kids very early on have no idea if their baby was a boy or a woman — and request one thing gender-neutral to honor their baby. (Undertaking Robby)

“For therefore many households, particularly those that expertise losses at earlier gestations, [the Project Robby Keepsake Set] is their solely bodily reminder of their child,” stated Smith. 

“I hear from a whole lot of households that receiving a Undertaking Robby Memento Set helped them to know that another person on the market was remembering their child with them,” she added.

She stated it is typically considered as “validation that their grief issues and their child issues.”

“After I say that we care about their grief and their child, I imply it with my entire coronary heart. An vital a part of the grief journey is to have your grief validated, and that’s what we do at Undertaking Robby.” 

“Our infants — it doesn’t matter what gestation they had been misplaced — matter.”

For Smith and her mom, selecting out the gadgets within the Undertaking Robby Memento Units is a fragile course of, she famous. 

Households who request Memento Units are in a position to present details about the gender (if identified), title (if given) and another details about their child. 

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“More often than not, when selecting out units for households, I’ve had conversations with them both by means of their notes on their request type, emails or feedback on our completely different social media pages,” Smith famous.

“I consider our hearts actually lead us,” stated Smith. 

Whereas Smith believes what she does with Undertaking Robby is worth it and vital work, some days are simpler than others. 

blankets hats angel wings

Three Undertaking Robby Memento Units, that includes hats for very small infants. (Undertaking Robby)

“Loss is heavy,” she defined. “Every day I obtain emails and messages from ladies and men who need to have the ability to share their tales with somebody, and I don’t take that frivolously.”

Smith reads every story that’s despatched to her, she stated.

 Many ladies request a set “for losses 30, 40 and even 50-plus years” in the past. 

“Some persons are sharing their tales for the primary time [with] somebody apart from household,” she stated.

“Being pregnant and Toddler loss will be an uncomfortable matter for our society, however it is a crucial matter.”

Smith additionally stated, “Our infants — it doesn’t matter what gestation they had been misplaced — matter.”

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On notably laborious days, Smith stated she reads by means of emails from individuals who have gotten their Memento Units. 

Photo of Robby with his Mom and Dad on the left, and a properly sized hat and blanket for children born early on the right.

Robby was born on Feb. 24, 2012, at simply over a pound. He grew to become the inspiration for creating equipment accurately sized for untimely infants.  (Undertaking Robby)

Many ladies have expressed gratitude for having one thing that might have belonged to their “angel baby” — particularly those that miscarried earlier than they’d an ultrasound or earlier than they’d a child bathe.

On the twenty fourth of every month at 9 a.m. Central time, Smith opens a type on the Undertaking Robby web site the place dad and mom can request Memento Units in honor of their angel infants. 

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There isn’t a time restrict for when an individual can request a Memento Set, stated Smith. She stated that “many ladies request a set for losses [from] 30, 40 and even 50-plus years” in the past. 

Units are offered freed from cost, however the variety of purposes is restricted as a result of measurement of the group. 

Family portrait daughters

A photograph of Amanda Smith’s two daughters, Delphine and Alice Ruth, with an overview representing her late son Robby. (Undertaking Robby)

“We’re an all-volunteer run group,” stated Smith. “We are saying we settle for 50 request kinds every month, however we nearly at all times settle for anyplace from 75-100, if no more.” 

Smith is now a mom of two women, Delphine and Alice Ruth, ages 10 and 6. She can also be an authorized grief coach with a grasp’s diploma in nonprofit management. 

Undertaking Robby accepts each financial donations to cowl the price of delivery and donations of crocheted gadgets for future kits. 

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“What we do at Undertaking Robby is unhappy, and will be emotionally heavy, however on the finish of the day I do know that what we do is vital,” stated Smith. 

Further info will be discovered on ProjectRobby.com.



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