BEL AIRE, Kan. (KAKE) - Birthdays are often filled with balloons, cake and presents, but for one Kansas woman, the gift she received was nothing she anticipated. It’s truly bittersweet.

Nicole Lauer’s life changed in 2018, when she and her husband found out they were expecting their first baby.

“It was a boy and we were just over the moon,” she said, smiling. “My husband's a farmer, and it was just his dream to raise a little boy to love the farm as much as he does. So, we were just ready and thrilled.”

Everything was fine until one day while at work. Nicole was teaching at a Goddard elementary school, and she felt something was wrong. She rushed to the hospital.

She was halfway through her pregnancy, and Nicole went into labor. She delivered her son, Kade, on April 17, 2018. He lived for a little bit, but he didn’t survive that day. Some of their loved ones made it to the hospital, but everything happened so fast, she said.

“The biggest thing that really stuck with me, after his loss, was the fact that most of our friends and family. They didn't get the chance to meet him,” she said. “As his mom, I really feared that, you know, his memory, his life would be forgotten.”

“I really found it important to figure out a way to keep his memory alive,” she continued. “I wanted to do something to help other families going through this kind of loss.”

The couple laid their son to rest. It was overwhelming, after all, as they were not expecting anything like this. They did their best to move forward, but they didn’t want to forget.

Tucked away underneath tall trees, Nicole found herself visiting her son’s gravesite at Ascension Cemetery in Bel Aire. But she was bothered by what she saw.

“I noticed that there were several babies that had been buried recently, and they did not have a headstone or any kind of special marker, not that they need one but I kind of took that as a sign.”


So, Nicole made a phone call to Catholic Cemeteries of Wichita. She asked them if she could pay for the headstones of the babies buried there. They said yes.

The new mom got to work. One day, Nicole put up a Facebook post asking friends and family if they’d like to contribute.

She went to bed, and was blown away by what she found the next day.

“The next morning, when I woke up, my phone was just completely blown up,” she said. "I had a couple of $1,000 sent to my Venmo account. I had people reaching out to me asking, ‘Hey, I have cash for you. When can I drop it off? When can I. Where can I send this check to you? Who do I make it out to?’ I was just floored by how many people wanted to help.”

Her heart swelled. She wasn’t expecting so much support. All she wanted to do was to help one family pay for a headstone for their child.

“We raised enough money, in less than 24 hours, to help 13 Babies have their own special headstone,” Nicole said. “Some of them are siblings, but we helped pay for 13 babies to have a special place. And to me, it may not be, it may not seem like a lot, but to go visit your baby at the cemetery and to see their name, you know, on their headstone, and to have a special place just for them is huge, especially for families that have gone through something so horrific.”

“Losing your baby is, whether it's three weeks into your pregnancy or, you know, whether your baby was six months old, people don't really understand it unless they go through it,” Nicole said. “To be able to help those families through the hardest days of their life… to help pay for something special like that just meant a lot to me, and I hope that we can continue to do it in the future.”

That’s what her family has turned into a tradition. Every year, on April 17th, wearing blue in honor of their baby boy. Then, Nicole brings their gift of donations to the cemetery to help others along the way. Since her family started the fundraiser a couple years ago, they've raised nearly $10,000, including $4,275 so far this year. Reflecting on that first post, though, is still emotional for her.

“I started crying,” she said. “I was really emotional and just really touched that so many people did something in my son's name to help others. I mean, I can't explain it. It's just, it's amazing to see."

One thing that she was surprised to see was how far Kade's story has reached.

“I actually just met someone from Washington,” Nicole said, speaking of a conversation from last spring. “We really clicked. We talked on the phone for almost an hour. It’s really cool to make those connections and just to see how far that this has gone, and just to hear from other families that have gone through this. And, they’re doing something similar in other states. Unfortunately, there is a need for this. Yeah, you know, but I think it's important to talk about it, and to have that conversation and to support these families. The best that we can.”

As a teacher, Nicole had a knack for being around little ones. She felt as prepared as she could be... just not for this. Nobody can be.

“I remember going to the cemetery after we lost Kade and sitting there and being given this book that had all these headstone decorations on it and they wanted us to pick one,” she recalled. “I remember feeling incredibly overwhelmed in that moment.”

“I think taking my experience and how I felt, you know, when the next family has to go and do the same thing," she continued. "I wanted to try and make that process a little bit easier for them and, so, when the cemetery says, ‘Hey, you know there's been a donation and we'll help you pay for your child's headstone. Is that okay?’ I really hope that that takes a little bit of that pain away. I know it will never take it all the way across to child and I can't fix that but I want to help in any way I can."

Since then, Nicole has been blessed with the births of two daughters. When they found out they were pregnant again, there were moments that gave her chills.

In 2019, Nicole was one of the 7 teachers, of 15 teachers at Goddard's Oak Street Elementary who were expecting. The story became a national sensation, even capturing the attention of ABC's World News Tonight and The Ellen Degeneres Show. When she delivered her girl, she was in the same hospital exactly one year after Kade passed away. 

"When we found out we were pregnant with our one-year-old," she said this past year, "It was on the same day that we found out we were pregnant with Kade. Our girls, they are amazing. They're such blessings."

If you'd like to contribute to the Kade Lauer Memorial Fund, click here for more information.


Miscarriage is the sudden loss of pregnancy before the 20th week. About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, that number is likely higher because miscarriages happen before a person realizes they are pregnant.

“Miscarriage is a somewhat loaded term, possibly suggesting that something was amiss in the carrying of the pregnancy,” the Mayo Clinic describes online. “This is rarely true. Most miscarriages occur because the fetus isn't developing normally.”

Abnormal genes or chromosomes are associated with many losses. Those problems are not a result of the parents’ genetics, but likely the result of what happens when the embryo divides and grows.

There are various risk factors associated with miscarriage, including a woman’s age, history of miscarriages, chronic conditions, uterine or cervical problems, weight and use of drugs or alcohol.

About 1 in 100 pregnancies result in a stillbirth of a child, the CDC reports. Each year, about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States.


Everyone processes loss differently. Experts say there is no right or wrong, but there are some ways to make things easier on your journey. You can create memories of your baby, keep a journal or join a support group.

Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support hosts two online group chats free to families. It has support groups in Kansas City, Shawnee Mission, Topeka and Wichita.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep provides free remembrance portraits to parents experiencing the death of a baby. The organization helped Taylor and Tad in their loss. Since 2005, NILMDTS has gifted more than 40,000 complimentary portraits to families around the world.

Bridget’s Cradles is a ministry providing knitted and crocheted cradles to families of babies who’ve passed away. Created in Kansas. It hosts volunteer work nights and hope gatherings for bereaved moms.