FOX CROSSING, Wis. — Ariel Becker of Fox Crossing said it was an exciting time as her brother and sister-in-law prepared to welcome their first child. But in March, their joy turned to heartache when little Sydney Rose died in the womb following complications with her umbilical cord. Becker was there for the birth of her stillborn niece.
"She was 8 pounds, 2 ounces. 19-and-a-half inches long. She was absolutely perfect, but she was quiet."
Becker placed a hat, that she crocheted with love, on Sydney's head. During her tear-filled drive home from the hospital, Becker pulled into a craft store and purchased $70 worth of yarn.
"I was like, 'I'm going to make hats. That's what I'm going to do. That's how I'm going to fix what I can't fix.'"
She pledged to make the baby hats in memory of Sydney.
"I want to make a hat for everyday that she would've been alive. So, my goal is 365 hats by March 12th of 2020 which would've been her first birthday, and I want to donate them in her honor."
With hook in hand and a heavy heart, Becker got down to business creating colorful caps.
"I can do them as fast as a half an hour, but most of the time it takes about an hour," she explained.
It's a labor of love that she posted about in some moms groups on social media.
"I didn't think that something I was doing could reach so many people. So many people have shared their stories like, 'I also lost one.' It's something nobody talks about anymore."
Becker's project is also inspiring people to join the cause.
"There are a couple hats on the table from one mom who said, 'I want to learn.' So I sent her some stuff, some 'How To's' that I learned from, and she made me four hats."
Strangers are also donating yarn that Becker keeps in a special box.
"My heart is just so warmed by people offering their support."
So far, Becker has given away 50 hats to family and friends, such as Dani Schuh who recently had a baby.
"Oh I feel so grateful, because I know she's doing it for such a good reason," said Schuh.
Becker's reason is to bring warmth and happiness to other newborns while also making sure Sydney is never forgotten. Becker plans to include a card with the hats she donates that explains Sydney's story.
"It's really great to see that something so tiny can make such a big impact, because she was just a tiny little baby, and she's bringing so many people some comfort."
That includes Becker, who continues to heal by knowing that with every stitch, Sydney's memory will live on.
Becker has completed 143 hats on Day 148. She's confident she'll meet her goal of 365 hats by, what would've been, Sydney's first birthday. On that day, she plans to donate the caps to three hospitals in the Fox Cities and one in southeast Wisconsin. Becker said Ascension Columbia-St. Mary's Hospital Milwaukee handled Sydney and her grieving family with great care and compassion, and this is her way of giving back.