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couple holding their infant
May 23, 2022

Family Shares Hope with Others After Infant Loss

ThedaCare Patient Providing Support and Resources for Families

Brian and Kelly Friedrich were ready to be parents. Despite the COVID pandemic impacting some of their plans, the Appleton couple was looking forward to welcoming a baby boy in April 2021. After experiencing what she describes as an easy, normal pregnancy, as Kelly was nearing 36 weeks, she noticed she had not felt the baby kick in some time.  

“I just had this jolt and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know when I felt him move last’,” she explained. “We went in to be checked, and they tried to find the heartbeat. At that point, we just knew.”  

There was no fetal heartbeat. Kelly and her husband went home and begin to make plans for something they never expected.  

“I went into the hospital to be induced,” said Kelly. “The teams at ThedaCare were amazing. They were compassionate and truly cared for all of us. When you lose a child, there are so many decisions to make, and you’re grieving, not in any state to think through those decisions. That’s where the team made it as easy as possible, coordinating every detail. It’s how we made it through.”  

The team members at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton are ready to support families in moments like this said Stephanie Suprise, RN at the Family Birth Center and Remember Through Sharing Coordinator at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton.  

“Each person grieves differently,” she explained. “And they all need different things at different times in those moments. It is our privilege to be there for the families and do anything and everything we can to help them in an unexpected situation.”   

On April 28, 2021, at 12:45 p.m. William James was born. The family said they leaned on the team every step of the way. 

“They anticipated everything,” said Kelly. “They helped coordinate photos and keepsakes. Things we never would have thought of at the time – William’s footprints, a swirl of his hair. I am so grateful for those treasures now.” 

The team also grieved with the family, and supported their decisions.  

“They cared for us as a whole,” said Lynne Slauson, Kelly’s mother. “Everyone was rooting for us, you just felt so held.”  

“We felt empowered and supported in our decisions,” said Kelly. “The team made something wonderful out of what would have been one of the worst experiences. Incredibly, they made a horrible situation, so much better.”

Healing Through the Grief

After Kelly and Brian went home, they began to heal. It was during her grieving that Kelly tried to make sense of what happened. She turned to social media for support and resources.  

“Losing a baby changes everything about your life,” she said. “Every day-to-day interaction is different once your baby dies.”  

Since William’s death, Kelly has also looked for ways to help others. It was later determined that the placenta was too small, which likely played a factor in William’s passing.  

“Checking the estimated placental volume is not a standard of care at this time,” explained Kelly. “We feel that if that were the case in my pregnancy with William, things might have been different.”  

The placenta is an organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy. This structure provides oxygen and nutrients to a growing baby. Now, Kelly wants to help make monitoring placental volume as a standard of care in pregnancy. She’s written letters to the American College of Gynecology, sharing her story and hoping it makes a difference to update care recommendations.  

“We want to do everything we can to help others,” said Kelly. “By sharing my story, I hope it empowers mothers and families to advocate for themselves and their babies.”

couple holding their infant
Brian and Kelly Friedrich experienced an infant loss in 2021. Their son, William James, was born an angel on April 28, 2021.
couple standing with a photo of their infant
The family honored their son on what would have been his first birthday by visiting the team at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton. They wanted to thank caregivers, as well as provide resources for other families who might be experiencing a similar situation of grief.

Sharing Hope

On the anniversary of William’s first birthday, Kelly, who is now 31 weeks pregnant with a baby boy, is looking ahead to the future, while always keeping William close to her heart, every day.  

“Growing a baby while grieving is difficult,” she said. “I have to keep living. I need to live for both of them.”  

The family also wanted to honor the day by visiting nurses at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton. They wanted to once again thank caregivers, as well as provide resources for other families who might be experiencing a similar situation of grief.  

In addition to bringing a cake and treats to celebrate William’s birthday, the family brought books and information that team members can give to other families who have experienced an infant loss. 

“I want mothers to know that they are not alone,” she said. “I wish that no other families would feel what we felt, but we know these things will happen. And we want others to know there is a whole community that is standing alongside you.”  

Donations to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations support families like the Friedrich’s in these difficult times with keepsakes and other resources for the teams serving these patients. The Foundation also supports the “Resolve through Sharing” program, bringing together families who have suffered an infant loss. The annual Walk to Remember is held every October and the Candlelight Memorial Service is offered every December in support of families who have suffered the loss of an infant through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or neonatal death. To learn more about the Resolve through Sharing program, and connect with Resolve Through Sharing Coordinators, please call 920.454.5956.  

In addition to bringing a cake and treats to celebrate William’s birthday, the family brought books and information that team members can give to other families who have experienced an infant loss.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including seven hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care. 

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.