Students in the fashion and textiles class at Plainfield High School have been busy working on a project that has impacted them far more than just improving their sewing techniques.
Students are making stockings that will eventually be taken to Riley Children’s Hospital where they will bedistributed to each family in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit the first or second week of December.
The project took root in 2013 when Beth Wilhelm, family and consumer sciences teacher at PHS, was contacted by a former student who was implementing a stocking program at Riley Children’s Hospital.
Stephanie (Filicsky) Muir (PHS 1998) and her husband, Aaron Muir (PHS ‘97), had experienced an unimaginable personal tragedy — their identical twin girls, Emmerson Claire and Vivienne Catherine, were born premature and due to complications, passed away. Emmerson died shortly after delivery and Vivienne was stillborn.
“Emmerson and Vivienne were born prematurely due to a complication called Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS),” Stephanie Muir said. “This syndrome occurs in pregnancies where there are multiples but only one placenta. (With TTTS,) connections with the blood vessels within the placenta [cause] an unequal blood flow between babies. It does not occur in all multiple pregnancies who share a placenta. I had surgery to correct those connections. Everything went beautifully during the surgery and the hours afterwards.”
Twelve and a half hours after surgery, labor started abruptly and despite every measure taken, they could not stop the labor. Emmerson was born at 11:26 a.m. and lived for an hour and 10 minutes.
“We held her and loved her and then she passed away in our arms,” Muir said. “Vivienne was born still at 11:56 p.m., exactly 12 1/2 hours after her sister.”
This project was born in December of 2011. It was the first after the twins passed.
“We include them in our Christmas traditions, and I thought about filling their stockings and then donating the items to a family in need or a women’s shelter,” she said. “Last year, I thought broader and a few short months later got in contact with Susan Henderson-Sears, family support director for the Riley NICU. They did not have a stocking program in place, and I was told that I could start mine.”
Wilhelm took on the project.
“She and her students did a wonderful job,” Muir said. “I am touched beyond words with the work they put into each one.”
Muir shared her story with Wilhelm’s class at PHS on the day she picked up the 72 stockings. She told the students that they were donating something so special to families they will not meet, babies who are not yet born, and may not survive
By sharing their story, she hopes to erase the taboo that surrounds still birth and infant death.
To learn more about her story, visit her blog at http://amotherlostblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/our-story.html. For information on how to donate to EV’s Christmas Stockings,visit the website at http://www.crowdrise.com/evschristmasstockings/fundraiser/stephaniemuir.
Muir graduated with a degree in nursing from Purdue University and worked for a period of time in the NICU at a hospital in Fort Wayne. She now stays home with her children. Aaron Muir graduated from Purdue University with a degree in aviation and is now a commercial pilot for a regional airline. Together, they have had four children: Alexandria, 4; the twins, now deceased; and Nathaniel, who turned 1 on Oct. 5.