TEHACHAPI, Calif. — The loss of an infant is unexpected, with a quick change of celebrating the birth of a newborn to preparing for funeral arrangements.
Patti Browne is the founder of David's Cradle, a nonprofit in Tehachapi that repurposes wedding gowns, prom and formal dresses into burial gowns for stillborn infants.
Browne has found healing with her loss of a child through her work with David's Cradle.
"I didn't realize I had actually lost a child until I went to the doctor and he said yeah you lost a child and I had to deal with that. So now we have people, and we can talk to people," Browne said.
On the third Saturday of every month, Browne and a group of women meet at Tehachapi First Baptist Church to provide comfort to families during a tragic time.
"The hospital will call us and say we need a gown," Browne said. "I'll ask them if it's male or female, the size of the child, how much it weighed. I'll bring a few sizes, give them choices."
Since David's Cradle began in 2012, the nonprofit has made close to 400 burial gowns. Last year, David's Cradle merged with Angel Gowns for Kern County to continue providing free gowns for infants.
When Browne brought the idea of this group to the Pastor and his wife of the church, she didn't know that they had experienced the loss of a granddaughter.
"My heart ached and hurt so bad for my daughter to see how much pain she was going through the loss of her baby that she carried for nine full months. You know felt it, was looking forward to it. Got things for it. Had a room all made and now she goes home and there's no baby," Nita Lopez, the wife of the Pastor at Tehachapi First Baptist Church said.
According to the California Department of Public Health's Community Profile, the infant mortality rate in Kern County has risen for the third consecutive year.
The month of October marks National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.
"I want to bring awareness that there are people out there," Browne said. "There's people out there that can come to somebody and say I need a gown, I have nothing. They're not prepared for this tragic time of their life and they need something quickly."
In return, David's Cradle and Angel Gowns for Kern County has allowed Browne to cope with her loss.
"It's allowed me to be able to talk to other people. It's helped me get through it. I'm able to talk about it. Talk about the name. I named him David," Browne said.
David's Cradle and Angel Gowns for Kern County meet on the third Saturday of the month at Tehachapi First Baptist Church, located at 1049 S. Curry St in Tehachapi.
Donations are accepted at Tehachapi First Baptist Church as well as at a location in the Bakersfield area. David's Cradle and Angel Gowns for Kern County ask that you contact Patti Browne at (661) 972-7172 for arrangements.