Through Good Times and Bad

On May 21, 2011, Adam and Anna Marohl experienced two of the most significant events in their lives. It was the day they were married, and the day they lost their son, Max.

“It was a very bittersweet day for us,” Anna recalled. “I remember that day like it was yesterday. I remember the nurses who shared that experience with us. The tears they cried, the stories they shared, and the comfort they provided.”

Janet Drechsel, Director of Women’s Services at Sanford, said the Family Birth Center can be one of the happiest places to be, but it can also be one of the saddest.

“Our nurses really shine during these difficult times. When a nurse walks alongside a mom and dad after such a loss and comforts them through one of the most painful moments – it is amazing to witness,” Janet shares “I am so proud of them and how they put their heart into everything they do.”

The journey begins

In February 2011, Anna discovered she was pregnant, and the couple began planning for their wedding and new baby.

“We planned a May wedding, so we would be married before the baby arrived in October,” Anna said. “The day before our wedding, we finished decorating, ran through rehearsal and shared in the joy of what tomorrow would bring.”

Anna woke to mild cramping and bleeding on her wedding day. The couple immediately drove to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo. Upon arrival, the pain and bleeding had intensified. She suspected the worst – she was losing her baby. After examination, Anna’s fears were confirmed. At only 18 weeks pregnant, her son was too small to survive outside the womb.

“My cervix had deteriorated and nothing could be done to stop labor,” Anna shared. “I was told Max wouldn’t survive once born. We were devastated. It felt like someone was ripping out my heart.”

A change in direction

After discussing with family, friends and nurses, Anna and Adam decided to continue with their plans to be married. The wedding was held at the Family Birth Center, just two hours before little Max was born.

Max weighed 7.5 ounces and measured just 8.5 inches long.

“He was perfect, but so tiny,” Anna shared. “Max will always be a part of our story.”

Supported by friends and family, Adam and Anna struggled to come to terms with their loss. The nurses presented the couple with a memory box. Inside were molds of Max’s hands and feet, an angel pin, hat, blanket and ID bracelet.

Every family that loses a child at the birthing center receives a hand-made box to remember their child. The nurses volunteer their time to put the boxes together.

The Marohls still have the memory box. Its contents have now been placed in a shadow box, which hangs on the couple’s bedroom wall. The memory box now holds other items that remind Adam and Anna of Max.

“I can’t thank the nurses enough for taking time away from their families to create these memory boxes,” Anna shared. “They help provide some sort of peace for families who have lost a child.”

It was this heartbreaking experience that inspired the Marohls to give back.

“We wanted to make sure the memory boxes would continue to be available to every family who loses a child,” Anna said. “We also wanted to honor Max with our donation.”

Max was born on the day of the Fargo Marathon, so it seemed only fitting to hold an event around walking and running. The first Miles for Max event, a 5k walk/run, was held in September 2011. The money raised supports the Sanford Family Bereavement Fund, which provides the supplies needed for the memory boxes.

A new day

The Marohls returned to the Family Birth Center on February 1, 2013, after Anna’s water broke. She was 30 weeks pregnant and was placed on bed rest at the hospital.

“I remember thinking, ‘Why me? Why is this happening again?’” Anna shared. “I was angry. I just wanted a normal pregnancy.”

But, yet again, the nurses stood by Anna’s side, providing her support day and night. For the next eight days, her nurses explained step by step what was happening with her unborn child.

“They knew I was scared,” Anna recalled. “They shared their experiences, their life stories and made me comfortable. I knew I was in the best place possible.”

On February 9, Laikyn was born. Because she was premature, Laikyn was required to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The Marohls were prepared; thanks to the Family Birth Center nurses keeping them informed every step of the way.

Laikyn spent 45 days in the NICU before coming home with her mom and dad. Anna was amazed every day by how they cared for her daughter.

“They watched over our baby girl when we couldn’t,” Anna said. “They sang to her, talked to her, and told her she was beautiful, special and a fighter. These nurses were some of the first to talk to Laikyn, and they loved our little girl. Laikyn was important to them.”

While providing the best care possible to their tiny patients, NICU nurses never forget how important it is to support and nurture the families, too.

“I saw nurses perform miracles every day,” Anna said. “They comforted us. They cheered on my husband as he fed Laikyn for the first time. Their confidence, skill, and ability – that’s what got us through each day.”

Laikyn is now 5 months old and growing like a weed. She will know about her older brother, Max. For Adam and Anna, talking about Max has been essential to their recovery.

The Marohls are preparing for the next Miles for Max event, which is now held annually in September. They hope to provide financial support not only for the bereavement fund, but also the NICU and perhaps a scholarship fund one day.

“Adam and I will never be able to repay the nurses for the wonderful care we received at both the most difficult and most joyous times of our lives,” Anna said. “We appreciate all that they share – all the love and care they provide.”

Posted Date: November 2013

Through Good Times and Bad

Adam and Anna Marohl experienced great loss and also the biggest of gains, all in the same place. See how our Family Birth Center and NICU nurses supported them every step of the way.