WINNEMUCCA —The doctor told Kim Sigston that everything was fine on January 18, 1994. She had gone to a routine OB appointment and was getting more and more excited to welcome her first little one in June.
Shortly after she returned to work following her appointment, however, she began bleeding. The doctor told her to go home, put her feet up and check in the next day. As the cramping and pain became more intense, however, her mother urged her to go to the Emergency Department.
When she arrived, she found she was already dilated to a 5. Within a few hours, at 10:03 p.m., she delivered a tiny 21-week-old baby girl that she and her husband, Paul, named Alisan Grace Sigston.
“They gave me the opportunity to hold her,” recalls Kim, “and then I never saw her again.”
Kim stayed at Humboldt General Hospital for 24 hours following the birth in a room apart from the maternity ward.
It was a fairly clinical experience, with little opportunity to grieve her little angel. She was even told there would be no ashes from the baby’s cremation—another signal that she should just move one.
So she did. Within days of giving birth, she went back to her normal routine and simply tried to push through the grief.
“We did talk about it,” says Kim. “It was never a secret.”
Still, she acknowledges that many mothers who experience loss don’t talk about it; “they don’t have a place to go or anyone to talk to,” she says. “They don’t experience any closure.”
But earlier this month, 25 years after she gave birth to Alisan, Kim returned to Humboldt General Hospital to help provide that closure for others.
Kim presented the HGH Mother and Baby Unit with 15 baby boy and girl outfits in different sizes—all made from her wedding gown.
Kim originally learned about the bereavement gowns through a Texas nonprofit, but the concept was so popular that the organization declined to take any more wedding dresses. So Kim began googling for a similar nonprofit closer to her Meridian, Idaho, home.
Her persistence paid off when she was able to meet Lindsey Thomason, the founder and director of “Real Imprints” and the “Angel Gowns” project.
Within a few months, Candi Zierler, a close friend and a talented seamstress and humanitarian in Meridian, transformed Kim’s wedding dress into the beautiful “Angel Gowns” that will now be lovingly offered to mothers at HGH who experience loss.
Kim was overjoyed to see so many changes at her hometown hospital. “That was 25 years ago,” she says of her experience, “but the hospital has come so far.”
In addition to “Angel Gowns” and “Keepsake Boxes,” the HGH Mother and Baby Unit also recently purchased a Cuddle Cot, a cooling bassinet that gives families the opportunity to spend more time with their babies who have passed.
While Alisan Grace’s death has certainly cast a shadow over the past quarter century, Kim can clearly see many miracles that have resulted as well.
As she was nearing her original June 1994 due date, her best friend called to tell her she was expecting her first baby. Kim said she felt happy for her friend but sad for herself until she realized she was also pregnant.
Her son, Alec, and her friend’s baby, Mariah, were born just six days apart; several weeks ago, Alec (24) officiated at Mariah’s wedding in Montana.
Kim also includes daughters Melanie (22) and Emilee (19) among her many miracles. Once doctors discovered Kim had an incompetent cervix, she was able to experience three healthy pregnancies without any complications.
Today Kim and Paul are happy near-empty nesters but they continue to feel drawn to make a difference for others who struggle with loss.
“Going back to Winnemucca brought it full circle,” says Kim. “It felt like it was the right thing to do.”
“Once you experience loss, you just have a feeling there is more you should do.”