LOCAL NEWS

Utahn’s project to create baby burial clothing out of wedding dresses sees outpouring of support

Mar 11, 2024, 5:42 PM | Updated: Mar 12, 2024, 9:41 am

Baby outfits created by My Angel Baby Project. (Michaun Torgersen)...

Baby outfits created by My Angel Baby Project. (Michaun Torgersen)

(Michaun Torgersen)

SPANISH FORK — Michaun Torgersen doesn’t seek the spotlight.

In fact, she told KSL TV that when we reached out, she almost declined to do an interview.

It was her daughter that ultimately convinced her by telling her people needed to hear a good news story.

“I just felt like, we need something good in this world, there’s so much bad,” Torgersen said.

When Torgersen told KSL TV about her project of repurposing old wedding dresses for burial clothing for stillborn or miscarried babies, apparently her story of good resonated with other people as well.

‘This means a lot to me’: Utah woman repurposes wedding dresses into burial outfits for babies

Over the next two weeks, her story was shared far and wide. Torgersen never anticipated the response she got to her volunteer efforts — something she’s titled, “My Angel Baby Project.”

“Oh my gosh, it has been crazy. It’s exciting more than anything,” Torgersen said. “I don’t even know where to start. I’ve had people reach out from all across the United States.”

Torgersen said she has had people reach out to her from Oklahoma, Georgia, North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, Washington and Kentucky.

“I am in touch with a lady in Missouri who wants to get this program started, so I called her this week and told her kind of what I’m doing, and she works in a hospital,” Torgersen said. “She says there is nothing available at the hospital where she’s at, and she had lost a baby, and she wants to get this program started. So I’m helping her get it started there.”

Many hospitals across the country don’t have anything in place to provide burial clothing for miscarried or stillborn babies. Torgersen’s project is beginning to change that starting in Utah.

“I’ve got a lady up in Logan… she’s already started it up there in Logan, she’s already got dresses donated,” Torgersen said. “She’s got seamstresses that are ready to get going, so we can get hospitals covered up there.”

As word of Torgersen’s needs spread, the donations and the volunteers started pouring in.

“I’ve got, I think I’ve got ribbon up the wazoo,” Torgersen laughed.

She explained that they’d set up a small Amazon wishlist with some of the items they needed for their sewing projects.

“Everything that we’ve pretty much posted on our Amazon, everything we post that we need, people have been purchasing for us which has been wonderful,” she said.

Multiple groups have set up times to come help: some groups will cut out ribbon and lace, some will sort buttons, and some will cut the dress patterns.

More than the service, it’s the stories that connect people.

“It’s been pretty amazing. All of the donations that have been coming in, all of the help that’s been coming in and all the stories, oh wow… the stories that I’ve been hearing from people,” Torgersen said.

For many, the interest in the project is deeply personal because the pain of losing a baby is familiar to them.

“I mean, I had a lady contact me…. she had twins, she lost a baby and she was too emotional to accept an outfit at the time, and they were going to do a memorial for the baby she lost. She showed up at my house in tears and we just sat and cried together as I handed her a little outfit so they could do a memorial for the one she lost,” Torgersen said. “Yeah, it’s stories like those that are just so touching to hear from these people.”

A friend of Torgersen’s found out she’d be losing a grandbaby and reached out for a dress.

“I sat and cried,” Torgersen said. “I couldn’t even call her back because I was in tears.”

Recipients giving back

Many of the women who have reached out told Torgersen they believed they were recipients of the outfits she made. Since the hospital distributes the outfits, they never had a chance to meet who was behind the clothing they received.

One of those women was Allison Robinson. Robinson had complications with her pregnancy at just 16 weeks along. Her water broke and doctors found that her baby had a serious congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

“It’s a condition that requires several open heart surgeries, and sometimes even a heart transplant, and a lot of babies that have it don’t survive,” Robinson said.

Since her water had broken, there was also a high risk of infection. Robinson was told to rush to the hospital at the first sign of labor.

“The next day, my contractions started so we hurried to the hospital to deliver my baby by emergency C-section,” Robinson said. “Our baby, Lucy, was born alive and I was able to hold her for 59 minutes before she passed away.”

A small blanket that was donated to the hospital was provided to Robinson for her little Lucy.

“She was only 6 inches long, so a regular-sized blanket would have been way too big,” Robinson said.

After she passed away, the hospital provided a box of tiny items for baby Lucy.

“Inside there were two little wearable blankets that fit her tiny 6 inches perfectly,” Robinson said. “They also had a little hat that fit her tiny head and a little burial outfit that someone had lovingly made and donated.”

Robinson said she continues to keep the box of Lucy’s things. Since they had such a short time with her, those belongings are very special way to remember her. So when she heard about Torgersen’s project, she knew she wanted to be involved.

“I didn’t know what to expect when I got to the hospital. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. It meant so much to me to have blankets and a hat that were her size. As soon as I read your KSL article about this, I knew I wanted to help make these things for other people who have to go through this,” Robinson said. “Losing a baby is one of the hardest things any parent has to go through. Being able to have a blanket that fits them, no matter how small they are, means so much. Then that blanket becomes something you treasure forever.”

Several commenters on KSL TV’s post of the article said they had been recipients of similar items.

 

“There’s just been a lot of different stories like that, that have been very touching and very heartwarming, and it’s just been a very neat experience to hear from so many different people,” Torgersen said.

Previously, Torgersen collected the wedding dresses at her house from the surrounding community. Now, the project has grown so large – volunteers had to create new drop-off areas.

“We’ve been able to set up drop-off places all throughout Utah pretty much, of homes that have been willing to take in dresses so people wouldn’t have to travel so far,” Torgersen said. “It’s kind of been a chain reaction.”

Torgersen was amazed at how this project has connected complete strangers. She said a woman in Parowan wanted to donate her dress to the cause.

“I thought, ‘Oh boy, how are we going to get a dress from Parowan?'” Torgersen said.

On that same post, another woman commented that her sister lived in Parowan who came up north all the time and could bring the dress.

“I’m thinking, this is bringing complete strangers together. How crazy is that?” Torgersen said. “I mean, it’s unreal to me that this would bring complete strangers together. It’s incredible, honestly.”

Those who are interested in helping can get in touch on the Facebook page My Angel Baby Project, or email Torgersen at myangelbabyproject@gmail.com.

“I think people need this right now. They need something to do for other people,” Torgersen said. “It’s helping other people, it’s helping me.”

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Utahn’s project to create baby burial clothing out of wedding dresses sees outpouring of support