As a child I dreamed of having children, I had my life planned out, as many children do – I was going to go to college, get married right after I graduated, immediately have a baby and the rest is history.
Fast-forward to college – no significant other, went to 5 years of pharmacy school, 1 year of residency. Now at age 28, I was just getting married. A few years later we thought about having kids, but at 360 pounds I wasn’t able to have them. I did weight loss surgery and finally, in 2016 we started trying – 9 years after undergraduate college graduation.
We were fortunate that the first month we tried we got pregnant. Many people struggle for months and months. We truly felt blessed. We declined any blood testing and just went through our usual ultrasounds. At 21 weeks we had our anatomy scan. We were told that baby looked good; maybe the tummy was a little small so to come back in a couple of weeks for a follow-up ultrasound.
We brought a box and a blue and pink bear to the anatomy scan and had the radiologist leave the room and pack either the pink or blue bear in the box. I wrapped it up and took it for Christmas. We opened it on Christmas and found out our baby was a little girl! We were so elated, the first girl grandchild.
She was destined to be just like her mom, a dancer, a cheerleader, and a great student. We started our baby registries and were over the moon.
We got back on January 4th, 2017 for our follow-up ultrasound. The doctor came in with the worst news ever. “I think your baby has triploidy”. Trip-what?? After he explained I balled. He said it was very rare that she made it to 21 weeks and she was the size of a 14-15 week gestation baby. She quit growing. My egg hadn’t split right and she got all 46 chromosomes from me and 23 from my husband. Not compatible with life.
I remember going through all the emotions from “get this baby out of me” to “no way, this can’t be happening. It is a mistake”. We had an amniocentesis to confirm our worst nightmare. We deleted our baby registries and were a total wreck. We planned for induction. In Wisconsin, you can’t induce past 24 weeks; we were 25 at this point. Our insurance allowed us to go to St. Paul in Minnesota to deliver our baby in hopes to hold her alive for a moment. There were no documented cases of babies being born alive, but we thought we had a chance.
We bought her little clothes, named her Kinley Grace (Kinley after my uncle – Kenneth Lee who made her crib out of a fallen walnut tree from my grandmother’s farm, and Grace after a friend from pharmacy school who had a baby born with CHD whose name was Piper Grace and passed after 8 months in the NICU). We got to the hospital on January 15th, 2017 and something in my heart told me she had already passed, I was no longer experiencing any of the pregnancy symptoms. Ultrasound upon admission confirmed, no heartbeat.
Our baby would be born an angel sleeping. We contacted Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep to have someone come and photograph our precious child; my mom was in charge of keeping them up to date on my labor progress. They couldn’t guarantee someone could come if she was born in the middle of the night.
At about 1 pm on January 16th, 2017 our baby angel, Kinley Grace Lorenzen was born sleeping. She was perfect. It wasn’t 15 minutes after the birth and our other angel, Brianna from NILMDTS, showed up and took the most precious photographs of us, first-time parents and not being able to take our baby home….ever.
Having to sign paperwork for the funeral home and death certificate. We left empty-handed. Our baby room was already set up at home, crib made, diapers bought. I couldn’t believe it.
We felt so blessed by the photographs Brianna took, we had several printed and framed. Our beautiful girl, an angel. We attended our first NILMDTS walk in September 2017 in MN. It was so comforting to be with so many others who were missing their babies, at the same time it was so hard to be there empty-handed….no baby, when all of these other families had babies to hold. We hadn’t been able to get pregnant again since Kinley. Maybe our hearts hadn’t healed. I distinctly remember releasing our butterfly, she took a while to wake up but then flew into the sky. I remember the next day being at home, 3 hours away in Marshfield, Wisconsin, and seeing the exact same butterfly at home flying around the memory garden that was planted for Kinley. I just know it was the same butterfly. We vowed we would do the walk each year!
Shortly after the walk, we found out we were pregnant! Things like this WOULDN’T happen again; next year I would have a baby of my own to hold at the walk. Well November 7th, 2017, after 3 days of EXCRUCIATING PAIN I woke my husband up and said “I am going to go to the ER. I just know I am constipated. I will be back in a couple of hours.” He offered to take me, I assured him I was fine. Just normal pregnancy symptoms. I got to the hospital and of course – abdominal pain, pregnant, constipated…really why is this lady here.
After a couple of hours, the doctor finally did an ultrasound to check for the position of the baby. All he said is I can’t really see anything – I am going to call in the on-call technician. I distinctly remember her telling me – you weren’t pregnant 8 weeks ago when you had an ultrasound, how do you know your pregnant now…REALLY….I was so frustrated and in SEVERE pain during the entire transvaginal ultrasound. At the end I knew things were bad, she started being nice and brought me back to my room. The doctor came in and said he had already called the on-call OB, fortunately, my doctor was on call, and I was being taken for emergency surgery within the hour (mind you this was 3 am). I tried to call my husband – we don’t take our phones to bed – I couldn’t get ahold of him, I texted my mom and told her to call me when she got up. (Note that she lives 16 hours away cross-country – but you always call your mom, right?)
She called immediately– she didn’t even know we were pregnant again. She was able to call our neighbor who had a landline, they walked over and woke up my husband and he made it 15 minutes before surgery. I had been ruptured for 3 days and was almost septic needing blood transfusions and all.
Here we were again, no baby, and even down 1 fallopian tube. Seriously! I was a good person, waiting until I was financially stable to have a baby, I had a great career, a house, and being in health care all I could think of is the mommies who don’t want their babies. I just couldn’t come to terms.
In January 2019 we found out we were pregnant again. Everyone said, “third time is a charm”. “It will happen this time”. Well fast forward to our 12-week blood test which we decided to do at this point – came back no triploidy! YES….BUT….our baby had a 99% chance of having Down Syndrome. Every emotion went through our heads again. How could we care for this baby adequately, would the baby be born alive, how severe was the Down Syndrome. We had to wait 4 weeks for the amniocentesis to confirm and we decided, you know what, God gave us this baby because he knew we could handle it! Well 3 days before our amniocentesis I was at work and just had the same feeling as with Kinley – something wasn’t right. I worked at a health care facility and asked one of the techs to see if there was a heartbeat….NONE….SERIOUSLY! I immediately called my doctor and was seen. Yes, our baby, a boy this time, had passed and since I was 16 weeks along I would have to, yet again, deliver another sleeping angel. How did this keep happening? I immediately called Brianna to see if she could come to Marshfield from Minneapolis to photograph our baby. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out but she told me that since he was less than 22 weeks, I could take all the pictures and send them to her and she would edit them. I absolutely did this. What a great service NILMDTS did. Now I have pictures of both of my angels and they are framed in exactly the same way. May 2, 2018, our baby boy Eli Eric Lorenzen (Eric as a middle name after his dad Eric) was born sleeping at 11 pm. Again, we left the hospital empty-handed, devastated, and speechless.
We had genetic counseling done, nothing genetic – just a random chromosomal chance. How did this keep happening? My doctor told me I had a better chance of winning the lottery than this happening as it had.
Now before the NILMDTS walk in 2018, we had to make new shirts, add a new baby’s name to the shirt. Again be that family there with no baby to hold, just now with two butterflies and two names on the signs. I talked with Gina and told her I wanted to speak, speak from the heart of a family that still didn’t have a happy ending, still didn’t have a baby to hold. Still attended the walks alone among everyone else and now I had a new shirt with another baby’s name added. I wanted to be that person that those without a baby in their arms could relate to. To let them know they aren’t alone.
Gina contacted me in May of 2019 to ask if I would be willing to share my story. My story has changed, but my appreciation hasn’t. Through the struggles, I finally feel like God answered my question of why I couldn’t take Kinley home, but I still didn’t know why I couldn’t have my other babies. In November of 2018 I accepted a new position, in a new state, having to make new friends, my entire world was changing….then…positive pregnancy test. Oh boy, here we go again. Would this result in another new t-shirt, would I finally have a baby on earth, I wasn’t sure what to think or feel. I can happily say, we have welcomed a little healthy baby girl in August 2019. I didn’t have to make a new shirt, I got to register for gifts, I made it to the glucose test…it’s the small things, but regardless if I tell this story as the mommy and daddy attending the walk empty-handed, or carrying a little baby, I know how it feels to be on all sides, I know how to realize that everyone’s journey is personal, unique and important.
I know how important these walks have been to my healing and my grief. I look forward to the walk each year to remember my baby with all of the attendees, to see all the butterflies making their way to give messages to others. I cannot begin to explain the support and love I feel when I am at the walks when I read the stories on Facebook when I look at the pictures. I thank god every time I think of Kinley and Eli for Brianna for photographing my angels, for loving me, for supporting me.