DAVENPORT, Iowa — Dresses that were once worn down the aisle are getting a second life, as a Quad City mom uses wedding gowns to turn tragedy into something positive.
In 2010, Jayna Lindell experienced terrible heartbreak when her daughter, Lila, was stillborn.
“My baby was brought to me in a boy’s outfit… and that’s the lasting impression I have of my baby. So, in moving forward, I thought, ‘I don’t ever want moms to go through the same heartache that I’ve been through, and with this lasting memory,'” said Lindell.
So for Lila’s birthday, Lindell began donating dresses to area hospitals. At first, the gowns were store-bought, but after her second marriage, Lindell decided to use her own wedding dresses for material.
“I had two wedding dresses, and I thought, ‘What a way to share love,'” said Lindell.
The handmade dresses go to other families with babies who will never come home from the hospital. Lindell calls them “Lila’s Dresses,” after her daughter.
“I get to say her name. I get to go to the hospital — which is hard, walking in those doors — and I get to say, ‘This is her. This is a gift from her. She’s still here with us,'” said Lindell.
Each dress also comes with a note from Lindell, letting the recipient know that they aren’t alone.
Amy Scott received one of Lila’s Dresses after losing her daughter, and she calls the gown “a gift.”
“It was one less thing we had to worry about, and we focused on the time we had with her, versus worrying about technicalities like what we would bury her in,” said Scott.
“Like my husband said, what better way to give her to God, to marry God, than in a beautiful, white dress.”
Now, Scott and her mom, Theresa Wallace, are sharing that gift with others. Wallace volunteers as a seamstress, and Scott is helping turn Lila’s Dresses into an official nonprofit.
“You know this will make somebody happy… like it did for us. It was a gift when you’re so down, so if I can help somebody else, with a little hug or a little gift, that’s what I’d like to do,” said Wallace.
And Lindell has found other moms to share in her journey.
“I went from my dreams being crushed to now being able to take something that I feel strongly about and pay it forward,” said Lindell.
Used wedding dresses, as well as bulk fabric and white baby blankets, are being collected at Runge Mortuary in Davenport.
You can also contact Jayna Lindell through the Lila’s Dresses Facebook page if you’d like more information or to share your dress with her personally.