When Courtney Fasola unexpectedly lost her unborn daughter Layla to trisomy 18 in 2019, she told her mother Stephanie Comardelle Parria that she wished she had something to dress her in.
“They didn’t make any clothes the size that I needed,” Fasola said, adding she was 19 weeks into her pregnancy when she lost Layla. “They had wrapped her in medical gauze … I just wished I had something else.”
Parria, fueled by her daughter’s wish, began to collect supplies and sew clothing for the smallest of angels.
“Layla’s Angel Baby Gowns was born,” Parria said. “I’ve sewn since the 7th grade. I had some material and I had put in on Facebook that I was going to start sewing gowns for these babies.”
Immediately donations started pouring in.
Parria takes donated wedding dresses and transforms them into infant burial gowns, also called angel gowns. These gowns, along with thoughtfully filled memory boxes, are offered to hospitals, birthing centers, funeral homes and directly to grieving families completely free of charge.
“We are in need of donated wedding dresses, formals, bridesmaid dresses, flower girl dresses, mother of the bride and groom dresses, formal dress suits and pants suits, christening gowns, communion gowns, men’s vests and ties for little angel boy and girl burial outfits,” Parria said. “Also we are in need of soft flannel, receiving blankets, soft fleece for buntings, tiny blankets and wraps.”
Included in each bereavement package is an angel outfit for the baby, a bunting or a wrap, a tiny blanket, a tiny hat, a card for the parents and a keepsake that may be mommy and me matching bracelets, angel wings or a heart made from the same material as the angel gown, a pouch for the keepsakes or a tiny toy.
“Because I never got to meet her, I feel like every dress I do she’s with me,” Parria said of her granddaughter Layla. “Courtney helps design and deliver the packages.”
To help fund the organization, Parria has also started to create memory bears and pillows. All profits, she said, go back into the organization.
Fasola said she has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the effort from the St. Charles Parish community.
“I come home all the time and I see a wedding dresses on my porch,” she said. “One neighbor even donated a sewing machine. Everybody has been very generous. We support families who have lost the littlest of souls far too soon.”
Knowing that Layla’s life is being honored, Fasola said, has made all the difference in her grieving process.
“I just want people in this position to be able to enjoy their baby as normal as possible,” she said. “I love the fact that we do it in memory of the baby I lost … it means a lot. Her life makes a difference.”
For more information on this organization, or to donate time, items or money, visit the Layla’s Angel Baby Burial Gowns page on Facebook.