I became aware of a shop on etsy (LilMommaCrafts) that makes weighted birth dolls. As a mom of a baby that is no longer here, the thought of holding a doll that is the same weight, and same size as her felt like it would bring some comfort- especially for our older daughter, Caroline, who is now 6 years old.
Caroline chose to come meet her sister, April, in the hospital, but has expressed regret to me that she was too nervous to hold her. She was only 2.5 years old at the time, and was so brave even stepping foot in that hospital voluntarily. It breaks my heart that she has regrets about not doing more.
And so, this year I decided to reach out to this shop on etsy and get a birth doll that is the same weight and size as April Rey… for Caroline to have and hold. This doll will be in April Rey’s stocking for Christmas. This is a tradition we’ve started and it warms my heart during the holidays to know that her stocking will be hung and in it I place items that will provide us comfort for the years to come.
I am always looking for remembrance ideas and resources to add to this site. This weighted doll seemed like a great addition. And so, I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to Shelby at LilMommaCrafts on etsy. Shelby agreed to answer some interview questions so we could learn more about her and the process she goes through with creating these dolls.
Below you can find 3 things:
- My honest review of these dolls after receiving ours
- Getting to know Shelby and LilMommaCrafts *(heads up that Shelby is not a loss mama, and not a TFMR mama…but rather a preemie mom that drew inspiration for her NICU experience)
- A discount code for LilMommaCrafts shop!
My Honest Review of the Weighted Crocheted Doll
The packaged arrived mid-morning. It sat waiting on my attention- waiting for me to have a moment alone to open it. I knew just what it was. We were busy the day it arrived. I was helping my daughter run a toy drive at her school, and then we were on the hunt for a Christmas tree to cut down.
Apparently during a pandemic, everyone goes to get their Christmas trees way early, so by December 12th most tree farms were sold out. It took awhile but we found our tree.
We then enjoyed a fun day of decorating and playing I-spy with the ornaments. In the evening we laid our heads down under the tree as I used to do when I was a kid. The 4 of us looked at the lights and had a wonderful family evening.
The box waited.
Those happy family moments are sometimes the hardest. The happy moments I want our whole family there. But April will always be missing.
We put Caroline and William to bed. My husband finished cleaning up the kitchen. I opened the box.
Some moments surprise me and when I look back I think I should NOT have been surprised. As an example, I thought April’s due date would be no big deal. We were focusing on her birth/death date as “our date”… and when the sudden cloud of grief hit me at her due date I felt genuinely surprised, not thinking it would be a trigger of any kind. Wrong.
This doll…It wasn’t something I thought I’d want to be honest. I didn’t think this was the type of remembrance item that was for me. I wanted this for Caroline, mostly. And as the writer of Terminations Remembered, I try to bring a variety of ideas to my readers, and I KNEW that this was an item that would be of interest to many after seeing someone post about it in our Facebook group.
And so, I wasn’t expecting what happened.
I opened the box to find a hand written thank you note from Shelby (the creator of LilMommaCrafts). Honestly though I couldn’t do more than glance at the note then, because my eyes were fixated on this beautiful doll.
The doll was swaddled in a beautiful butterfly fabric, and I instantly realized I never got to swaddle April. As I lifted the doll out of the package, the weight felt familiar- 290 grams. She fit into my hands just as April did over 3 years ago.
Suddenly I couldn’t breathe. I hadn’t made any noise yet, but my posture (even with my back to my husband) told my husband that I was sad. He asked if I was ok. Words didn’t come, but the tears did. That huge cloud of grief that just hangs out at all moments, ready to strike… there it was like a storm that popped up out of nowhere.
I hadn’t known it was coming.
I cried so hard. We both did. We took turns holding the April doll and talking. It felt so good to “hold” her again and feel that familiar weight and size in our arms.
I put the swaddle back on the April doll. Just doing that for the first time felt good. Natural. And then I took the doll over to the Christmas tree and put my head under the lights as we’d done with our living children just moments before. I held her and put her on my shoulder to look up at the beautiful rainbow lights. I asked my husband to take a picture. I wanted to remember this moment even if I had tears streaming down my face.
This doll is a Christmas present for our daughter Caroline. She was 2.5 when April died, and the loss has been hard on her. Last year we hung a stocking for the first time for April, and we started a tradition. I put items in the stocking that help us in our grief journey, remind us of her, etc. This doll is going to be in the stocking this year (2020) and will be for Caroline (now 6) to keep.
She didn’t get to hold her sister. She was nervous and looking back she wishes she would have. So I thought this doll would be perfect for her to have and to hold whenever she wants.
The colors are perfect. I got to choose the skin color, the hat color, the clothing color. Shelby at LilMommaCrafts even asked if we wanted angel wings. I decided to add the wings. Everything about this doll is perfect and exactly how I envisioned it.
On the doll is a tag with April’s name, and her weight, gestation, etc. We didn’t know her exact length, so I sent Shelby a picture of April in my hand so she could get a better idea of the length.
This doll is beyond words. I can’t describe the feeling of holding this doll- the feeling of getting to hold April again. It was priceless and not even something I knew I needed.
I’ve now ordered two more exact replicas of this doll. Caroline will get this first one. The second one will go to William. He just turned 2 and is our rainbow baby. He doesn’t need this now, but I want him to have a doll for when he’s older and understands as well. His big sister died, and I always want him to know that she’s a part of our family, even though he didn’t get to meet her.
The third doll is for my husband and me to share. Even he agreed we needed one as well. These dolls are just amazing. The quality is incredible, and the dolls are just stunning. I highly recommend getting one…or three LOL!
An Interview with Shelby at LilMommaCrafts
*(heads up that Shelby is not a loss mama, and not a TFMR mama…but rather a preemie mom that drew inspiration for her NICU experience)
Q1: Where do you live and where are you from (if different)?
I live in Eastern Michigan about 2 hours north of Detroit. I have always lived in roughly the same area, and though I use to want to move out of state I am glad I stayed so my boys can see their grandma anytime.
Q2: What are the names and ages of your children?
I have two young boys, Masen who is three and Maverick who is two.
Q3: Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Shelby, I am 28 and a single mom, who for the last (nearly) two years have ran my shop LilMommaCrafts. Aside from that these days I’m mainly known as, Momma, to my two wonderful boys. Before children I was an avid traveler, seeing 12 countries by the time I was 24. Once I had my first child, Masen, I became a stay at home mom doing odd jobs here and there for a little extra income and after having my second son, Maverick, LilMommaCrafts was born.
Q4: Briefly describe your pregnancy and birth experience(s).
My first pregnancy was very easy (other than being VERY big and uncomfortable you will understand why in a moment) and his delivery went pretty smoothly. The night of my due date I went to bed thinking he was never going to come, and then at 2am I woke up thinking it was just going to be one of the million nightly restroom trips.
I had a terrible cramping of my stomach and as I stood up my water broke all over my bedroom carpet. I arrived at 2-3cm and progressed fairly quickly. I hadn’t gotten more than a couple hours of sleep and my contractions where back to back at times, so I opted for medication to help me get through.
Just 7 hours after my water broke I was hold my 8lb 12oz 20in baby. Yes, I had been carrying a mini toddler in my 5ft1in self!
My second pregnancy wasn’t so smooth. I found out I was pregnant when my son, Masen, was just 9 months old. I had some spotting on and off throughout most of my pregnancy this time around, but I didn’t think it was to serious. I mean, I was caring for an infant (who was built like a kid twice his age) 24/7.
I just tried to take it easy and nap when he did, limit my activity etc. Finally, I ended up going to ER because I had passed a large clot and was actively bleeding. I was only 27 weeks 2 days but was sent straight up to L&D.
They sent for a scan, blood work and hooked me up to the monitor. After all that was done the doctor came to check me and I was 2-3cm. They started me on a magnesium drip, gave me a steroid shot to help develop his lungs and sent me by ambulance to a hospital 30 minutes away with a NICU so they could decide what to do with me.
By the time I was getting settled into the bed at the new hospital I was bleeding fairly heavily, I was still on magnesium and they tried to start me on Penicillin since we didn’t know if I was group B positive….. well lets just say that wasn’t a great time to find out I am allergic to penicillin.
After 5 or 6 hours the team at the 2nd hospital decided it was best for my son to be born that night vs waiting. Waiting would mean he could get the 2nd dose of steroid to help develop his lungs but it also was more time for me to be bleeding and stress on him.
So at 930 that night my second son was born via emergency c section at just 27 weeks 2 days. He was 2lb 9oz and 13.8in long. I saw him for about 10 seconds in an incubator in OR and didn’t get to see him again for roughly 17 hours.
He had a rough first week in NICU, we almost lost him, but he was a little fighter and over came all the hurdles life threw at him. He came home after 94 days and thankfully he has only had minor issues since then from his prematurity.
Q5: Describe a bit about your career path and how you ended up starting an etsy shop.
I have never been one of those people that grows up knowing what they are meant to do. I was mainly torn between the worlds of healthcare and my love of arts.
Straight out of high school I got a job in an inpatient hospital pharmacy and stayed there for 6 years. I started at a new pharmacy just weeks before I found out I was expecting my first child, so after 9 months there I left to raise him.
I had dabbled in Etsy shops before for extra money but had never really had success until a few months after my youngest came home from the NICU. Within the first day of opening I had two orders for dolls and its been steady work ever since!
Q6: What are your hopes & goals for Lil Momma Crafts?
When I started LilMommaCrafts it was just extra income to help my little family along. Little did I know how grateful I would be for having my shop when I became a single mom of two.
For the last 9 months I have been able to support my boys and myself. I get to still be home with them and be present in them growing up.
My hopes for my shop would be to continue to grow and touch more families, it means so much when I get to hear peoples stories or they share photos of their child with something I made them.
Q7: What is the inspiration behind these dolls that you create?
My inspiration was my son Maverick, without him and the journey he had I never would have gone down this path of making dolls. I love getting to create something to remember a child no longer here or to mark where a child began their journey.
Q8: Can you describe the creation process, how long it takes, materials, steps, etc.?
I don’t have a written pattern I go off of so everything is off of trial and error or based on other things I have made.
For example, I took what I knew from making a pair of baby booties to create the shape of the feet for my dolls.
Generally speaking each doll takes roughly a day to make, without distractions, which we all know is rare as a parent!
My goal (and how I base my turn around time) is to get 2-3 dolls a week complete, but lately I have been managing 3-4 to cut down my turn around time.
Everything is hand done by myself. I do not have any others working with me, I crochet, stuff and weight each doll myself.
Q9: Random fun fact about you, or anything else you want to mention?
I always have ideas brewing but never the time to execute everything I come up with. I love taking ideas people have and making new things, so even if you’re looking for something that isn’t a doll- don’t be afraid to reach out to me and see if we can bring your idea to life!
Q10: If you could tell readers at Terminations Remembered one thing, what would it be?
I admire your strength and courage to share your stories. I love that you’re keeping the memory of your little one alive. Women’s health and child loss have been swept under the rug for far too long and it is nice to see others stand up and bring awareness, even to topics that are sensitive and hard to talk about.
A Discount Code for LilMommaCrafts on Etsy
Head over to LilMommaCrafts by clicking here. Add a weighted doll to you cart. Use code ANGEL10 for 10% off