A Hermantown family has experienced the heartbreak of losing a baby five times.
Nate and Janelle Wourms struggled with infertility for a decade, losing two pregnancies: a miscarriage, and an ectopic pregnancy. After the birth of their daughter, Nora, they got pregnant again. This time with triplets.
"That's Alice, and Elliot, and Alexis, and that's their feet," Janelle explained to her two-year-old daughter, while going through a box filled with memories of the triplets.
Memories, because the triplets died just three hours after they were born on February 3, 2012.
"Alice was diagnosed with primarily spina bifada and a lot of other complications that came along with that," said Janelle, "So, at 20 weeks is when we started to feel like, 'we have complications.'"
Janelle shared her concerns on her blog, called "Blessed with More," where she wrote about her journey being pregnant with triplets,
the complications faced along the way, and her family's grief after the triplets died.
"So, they each lived three hours, but Alice passed away before the other two," Janelle said.
Janelle went into septic infection, causing doctors to force delivery of the other two babies in order to save her life.
"One of the few memories that have was that transition between fighting against my body to stop labor, and realizing that now we were transitioning to that [forced delivery] and I remember just screaming, "God, why are you taking my babies?"," Janelle said, "I don't think that's something that anybody can ever prepare for."
The next morning, Janelle says they were given a gown and bonnet for each baby. She doesn't know who gave them the gift, but it inspired her to give, too.
"I couldn't get over the fact that somebody else thought of my children before I even knew that they had the need," she said, "I wanted to be able to give back to that."
So she did. Creating what she calls memory boxes, filled with items to help parents of babies who won't live, create memories in the short time they have.
"Every box has a small blanket," Janelle explained while going through a yet-to-be-delivered memory box at her Hermantown home.
In every box she has some type of what she called "memory items," meant to inspire families to create memories in the difficult time. They can include scented lotions to make a "scent memory" or a photo album to encourage the family to take pictures ("It's okay to take pictures," Janelle explains).
Janelle delivers the boxes, along with stuffed toy bears, to area hospitals.
On this day, she's dropping them off at St. Luke's in Duluth.
"You're doing okay on hats and blankets?" she asks the nurse who stocks the gifts in a cabinet, hoping to never have to take them out.
The boxes are filled with items Janelle hopes will encourage families to soak up every short minute with their baby. "Something that encourages them to spend more time," she explains.
Since the death of the triplets, the Wourms family has expanded by one. After a decade filled with fertility treatments and loss, Kate was born: with no medical intervention - a complete surprise.
"We were blessed with more children, and that evolved into a whole other meaning than we ever anticipated, of being able to bless people with more, bless them with more time with their children, to slow down and really spend time with them."
Families who have lost babies can donate a memory box in honor of their child. For information on how to donate, click here.