Grieving mothers are finding comfort in some very special teddy bears that were made by a woman who unfortunately knows exactly how they feel.
Bridget Crews lost her daughter Molly while she was still pregnant with her.
"It was a normal pregnancy up until 34 weeks. I was pushing on my belly, and there was nothing. I didn't hold her for a long time, and it's my biggest regret," said Crews.
Crews was given a weighted teddy bear from a friend. Crews added weight to the bear to make it the same as her daughter Molly would have weighed had she lived.
The Washington state mother realized she needed to do something to help other families. So she started cutting, sewing and stuffing bears for other women.
"We've done over 2,000 bears. We're now in 18 countries and every state," said Crews.
Molly Bears are made by Crews and a team of volunteers that she has around the country. The clothes, size and weight of each bear is customized. Crews smallest bear is just half an ounce.
"We can fill the void of their arms. We can give them something tangible to hold on to," said Crews.
Kathy Slack from Wyandotte is one of at least three women in Metro Detroit who has a Molly Bear.
Slack lost her third child Nicholas just 50 days after he was born.
"He was perfect. He was healthy," said Slack. "He was everything a mom could ask in a new baby."
Nicholas was rushed to the hospital because he was having trouble breathing. He died of SIDs, sudden infant death syndrome.
Slack was in shock and couldn't believe her son was gone.
"It sounded like glass shattering in my head and thinking back, I think that was every hope, dream and plan that I had for my two boys and the life that they were supposed to have together," said Slack.
Slack joined an online support group and connected with other women who lost their babies. That's how she discovered Molly Bears.
"Molly bear represents hope that I can, and my team can, help fill arms that are aching," said Crews.
Many of the volunteers who make the bears for Slack and other families, have lost children themselves.
Linda Schonberg is a clinical psychologist and adjunct faculty at the Michigan School of Professional Psychology. She said the Molly bears can help not just those getting them, but those giving the bears.
"I think it's absolutely wonderful. It's a way to connect with someone. It's a way for someone to validate that you're grieving," said Schonberg. "Some of these folks have actually experienced loss themselves, so there is some healing in the connection for them too, very therapeutic in the giving of this gift."
Schonberg cautions that the teddy bears, that nothing can fill the void and every parent needs to go through the grieving process.
Slack, who lost her son Nicholas in 2007, agrees.
"It's a comfort piece and it's something to hug, to hold, to fill my arms when it's like I feel that ache for the one child that i have that's no longer here," Slack.
Slack usually keeps her Molly Bear on a rocking chair in the family. Her children will also play with him. She said the Molly Bear is an important reminder for her and her family. She has four other children, Alex, 17, Christopher, 6, Marissa, 4, and Julia, 2.
"You have your memories, you have everything in your heart, you have your urn or your gravesite, but I mean the Molly Bear, you look at him and I mean, he's beautiful, he's cute and that's like a reminder of the good stuff," said Slack.
Crews takes requests for bears and tries to fill them as fast as possible. Molly Bears is a nonprofit and relies on volunteers and donations to keep going. There are currently 3,000 families waiting for a Molly Bear. The average wait for a bear is 12 to 14 months.
For more information on Molly Bears and how to get one, click here.
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