Grieving mom finds solace in giving back
Pregnancy can be a difficult and challenging experience for many, but when Monica Kieres found out she was pregnant with her first baby in the spring of 2010, it was mostly smooth sailing all throughout the pregnancy.
“My pregnancy was great,” Monica recalls. “I was really swollen from the water weight, but nothing else bad came of it. I had a really healthy pregnancy.”
Just one week from her scheduled delivery date, Monica was at home when she suddenly felt a rush of blood exit her body. She and her husband Geoff immediately went to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. When they arrived at the hospital, things took a turn for the worse.
As the care team took Monica’s vitals, then baby Audra’s, the tone in the room shifted. Audra’s heartbeat couldn’t be found. Monica and Geoff broke down in tears and disbelief. They would later find out that Monica had velamentous cord insertion, an extremely rare condition that can prove fatal for babies.
Monica delivered Audra the next morning, and she and Geoff made arrangements for a burial shortly thereafter. Through the following months, they grieved in different ways and sought support in each other and others. Day by day, they found the strength to get their feet underneath them. Since then, Geoff and Monica have had twins, Billy and Brooke, and another daughter Grace.
“When I went back to work, it was hard because you realize that life goes on for everyone else,” Monica says. “I don’t think I’ll ever have a sense of normalcy again, but I have always wanted to do something in Audra’s honor.”
Inspired by a sewing class she took during her pregnancy with Grace, Monica had the idea of sewing blankets for friends who had babies. That turned into another idea of coming back to gift blankets to the Mother/Baby Unit at Advocate Lutheran General. Each pair of blankets is cut from the same cloth, symbolizing the bond between baby and the parents. In cases where parents might have suffered a perinatal loss, the blanket can also be buried with the baby or kept in a keepsake box.
Monica says the gift was a way to honor Audra’s memory while showing her gratitude to the team at Advocate Lutheran General.
“I can go on for days how much they helped us,” she says. “They gave me a corner room for extra privacy as well as a separate room for family members so they could sleep at the hospital. The team checked on everyone who came to visit or who waited on me. They were amazing to us.”
Though Geoff and Monica feel the loss of their daughter every day, Monica says the trauma has strengthened them both.
“In order to get to the rainbow, you have to go through the storm. Just when you think you’re at your lowest point, you have to keep fighting. There’s hope. Your heart is still beating. Going through those tough moments is worth it because you come out so strong in the end,” she says.
About the Author
Jaimie Oh, health enews contributor, is regional manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Health Care. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has nearly a decade of experience working in publishing, strategic communications and marketing. Outside of work, Jaimie trains for marathons with the goal of running 50 races before she turns 50 years old.