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Honoring Infant Loss at the Center of Ceremonies in Urbana, Normal on Oct. 15

Honoring Infant Loss at the Center of Ceremonies in Urbana, Normal on Oct. 15
Cassey and Johnny Oliger were like so many young couples excited to be parents for the first time.

“We knew we wanted to start a family,” Cassey said. They had a gender reveal party and both came up with the same name, Nora, for their first child. She was to be the first grandchild on Cassey’s side of the family and the third grandchild on Johnny’s side of the family.

Before Nora was born Sept. 1, 2021, Cassey had not felt well for several days. She was experiencing headaches and missing work at the senior living community where she was a recruiter and onboarding specialist. She was prone to migraines before the pregnancy.

Cassey delivered early when Nora was only at 23 weeks and 5 days. Babies are not considered full term usually until at least 37 weeks. Suffering from HELLP Syndrome, a rare but life-threatening illness that affects the liver, blood pressure and blood clotting factor during pregnancy, Cassey had an emergency C-section and Nora arrived at only 1.3 pounds.

“She was too small for preemie diapers,” Cassey said. Nora spent 33 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Carle Foundation Hospital and received care from the specialized small baby team. Her parents could hold her and she received milk from her mother.

“We were so impressed with the care Nora received,” Cassey said.

In support of families like the Oligers who experienced infant loss, Carle holds annual events in Urbana and Normal on Oct. 15, which is Pregnancy Loss and Remembrance Day. Families have an opportunity to honor the young lives lost and find reassurance by sharing time with others who had similar experiences. Registration to attend is not required, but families who would like their baby’s name read aloud during the ceremony may do so here.

Describing her tiny daughter as “sweet and sassy,” Cassey said their newborn just could not overcome a life-threatening intestinal illness called Necrotizing Enterocolitis Totalis and died suddenly on Oct. 4, 2021. “As fast as she came into this world, she left.”

The Oligers are thankful of the support during that time from The Nest Postpartum in Champaign-Urbana as well as a child and infant loss support group called Empty Arms, the NEC society, Nora’s healthcare team and the community.

“It’s important to know you are not alone and talk with others who had similar experiences,” Johnny Oliger said.

The Oligers said programs like the Shining Light Memorial for Pregnancy and Infant loss on Oct. 15 near Carle Foundation Hospital are so important as families remember the babies they hold in their hearts and share the experience with families who had similar experiences.

Carle Foundation Hospital Perinatal Grief and Bereavement Liaison Rachel Campbell said, “Families also benefit from seeing some of their care providers again at the event, in a special and safe space.”

“It would be worse to pick up the pieces and pretend this never happened,” Cassey said.

The white pumpkin is a traditional symbol of infant loss and at the back of the Oligers property some white pumpkins voluntarily sprouted this year. Cassey said the symbolism – maybe sent by Nora - is not lost on her.
October 15 ceremonies to remember infants who left this earth too soon are set at The Forum, located just outside Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana and at the Garden Chapel of Carle BroMenn Medical Center in Normal. The ceremonies are in conjunction with the annual International Wave of Light, a worldwide lighting of candles at 7 p.m. on Pregnancy Loss and Remembrance Day. Those unable to attend can watch via livestream on Microsoft Teams. Just go to
In Urbana, in-person events begin at 6 p.m. inside The Forum near Carle Foundation Hospital, 611 W. Park St. Child Life Services is hosting a table where children may make luminaries in honor of their siblings. At 7 p.m. a memorial ceremony with a harpist and the reading of baby names will be in Pollard Auditorium at The Forum.
In Normal, the event is at the Chapel Garden of Carle BroMenn Medical Center, 1304 Franklin Ave. At 6 p.m. families may decorate luminaries prior to a walk to remember at 6:30 p.m. At 7 p.m. is a ceremony to honor precious babies gone too soon, followed by an outdoor reception. 

Categories: Culture of Quality, Community

Tags: and, bereavement, Bloomington-Normal, Carle, Carle-BroMenn, Center, Champaign-Urbana, delivery, Foundation, Giving, Hospital, labor, Medical, perinatal, Philanthropy, services