ELKINS - Pregnancy and the hopes of motherhood are a joy for most women - nine months of preparation and dreaming about a new life and questions about what the baby will look like.
Unfortunately, sometimes the unexpected happens, and that little one only lives for a short time, or he or she already is an angel when born.
On Sept. 8, 2009, an Elkins couple's baby came early at only five months. He didn't survive.
Parents Patrick and Shannon Wilfong mark Jack's birthday each year with a balloon release, and not a day goes by they do not think about their little angel. This year, when Jack would have been 5 years old, his mother, Shannon, decided to take a step to help other mothers and families facing this tragedy.
Wilfong created a group called "A Journey for Jack" and is encouraging others to join and make baby blankets and hats as keepsakes for mothers who experience the loss of a child and have little angels.
"Our plan is to donate the items for mothers at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown and Davis Medical Center in Elkins," Wilfong said. "When my son, Jack, passed away, I left the hospital with a beautiful wooden box with butterflies painted on it. Inside was his blanket, hat and tiny little gown. I can tell you from experience that being able to take this keepsake home, the one thing that I could say belonged to my baby, meant more to me than words could ever say."
Wilfong is asking people to knit or crochet these articles for babies and has gathered folks to help. The group is sponsoring a kick-off crochet party from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Montrose Community Building.
"We will have some girls there that have been crocheting for a long time," Wilfong said. "They would be happy to show anyone that does not know how to crochet. We will be accepting yarn donations, too."
Wilfong said there will be refreshments, and she hopes people will come by to join in the project. She said she encourages those who are interested to "stop by and bring their children as well."
"I would like to spend these six months gathering donations to take to Ruby Memorial Hospital and Davis Medical Center on Jack's fifth birthday," Wilfong said. "I want to celebrate a life that was cut way too short by helping other families in need."
Wilfong said she feels it's important that no mother of an angel baby leave the hospital empty handed.
"When a baby has gained its wings, that mother needs something to take home with her," Wilfong said. "Please help me make sure this (leaving with nothing) doesn't happen to other women."
On Sunday, Wilfong posted a photo of two small hats she had finished crocheting.
"I learned to make hats thanks to my sister, Samantha," Wilfong said. "I am so proud of myself. I got teary-eyed thinking of the mom who is going to end up going home with this hat. I have been that mom, though, and I was so thankful to go home with something that is my son's. Thank you, thank you, to all of you that are making a mom's worst nightmare a little easier."
Samantha Cutshaw commented about a blanket she was making for the project.
"Half way through my first baby-girl blanket, I had to stop for a minute and just look at it," Cutshaw said. "I want to keep my nephew, Jack's, memory alive just as much as the next person. I stopped for a moment and cried. This experience in itself is very humbling."
Additional information about "A Journey for Jack" is available on Facebook. The site contains comments and photos of items people are making for this project.