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It's About Leading for Kim Hoey

Kim Hoey was 28 when three unforgettable chapters of her life began: the stillbirth of Lauren on May 5, 2009, the birth of Sophia a year later, and a cancer diagnosis in 2011.

“The experience with Lauren was the toughest,” says Kim, a nurse at Sanford Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “Leaving the hospital without my baby was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Kim and husband Justin knew from the 20-week ultrasound that their baby had anencephaly – a birth defect characterized by absence of the brain. Lauren would live briefly after birth, if at all. Ultimately, their decision was to give her the best life possible while in the womb.

“I loved feeling her kick,” recalls Kim. During afternoon naps, oldest daughter Elise, then two, would rest her head on Kim’s tummy so she could feel the baby move.

“Elise knew her little sister would go to heaven, not home with us,” says Kim. “Sanford’s child life specialists were extremely helpful.”

When the day came to deliver Lauren, NICU coworkers surprised Kim by decorating her hospital room. They knew she wanted the birth to be a celebration. Other steps helped, too: time with Lauren following delivery, photos by a specially trained photographer, clay molds of Lauren’s hands and feet, and excellent support from many.

“The Family Birth Center nurses were phenomenal,” says Kim.

Today a hutch in the Hoey’s living room displays mementoes. In the backyard a beautiful swing set memorializes Lauren.

“The neighborhood kids gather here and play,” says Kim, smiling and holding her young daughter, Sophia.

Fortunately Kim is healthy, too. Her Sanford doctors rapidly diagnosed and successfully treated thyroid cancer.

“I’m so blessed and thankful,” she says. “I have my family, my work in the NICU, my life – everything I ever wanted.”

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Posted Date: June 2012