Support helps make family complete after loss

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Elliott Rose can light up a room.

"She has brought so much joy to everyone," says her dad, Chad Barkemeyer.

Her arrival followed the darkest of moments for Chad and his wife, Jenni.

In 2016, their first daughter, Lola Mae, was stillborn at full term. They'd had no complications, and heard her heartbeat just days earlier.

"We were all excited, came in, we found that day that our daughter was gone," Chad said.

"It was a roller coaster of emotions," Jenni said.

That included a lot of worry when they learned Elliott Rose was on the way.

"It's a little nerve wracking to be pregnant anyway, but then after having something happen like that, it was even worse," Jenni said.

Their fears were eased a bit with a referral to Stormont Vail's Maternal Fetal Medicine, where they met Dr. Laura Hughes and her team.

"Patients who have a history of loss in the past are at increased risk for having another loss, but they're also at increased risk for other pregnancy complications, things like poor fetal growth, prematurity, preeclampsia," Dr. Hughes said.

Dr. Hughes says moms are followed closely, with extra testing in the third trimester to ensure growth and development is progressing.

"The idea behind it is that if we find a baby who's starting to do poorly on the fetal testing, we can intervene with a delivery before there's a loss," she said.

The Barkemeyers say their regular doctor, combined with the extra support made all the difference.

"It is so nice to be able to come here and have a doctor walk you through everything step by step, to tell you your baby is okay," Chad said.

"I couldn't imagine going through those nine months and not having Dr. Hughes and the nurses," Jenni agreed.

It all led to welcoming a healthy Elliott Rose five months ago.

"If I could tell anybody anything, (it would be) don't give up because the good Lord has a place for you," Chad said.

"Just have hope," Jenni added. "Life does get good again."

Age, smoking, and certain medical conditions also can increase risk of stillbirth. Parents should talk to their doctor about any concerns.