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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 11, 1997)
‘We fight. We all
talk at the same
time. We scream
and yell. But we
love each other.
Deep down, we
love each other.”
A delivery of ‘Saving Grace’
GRACE from page 1
every weekend when she came home
to see them and Clete in Omaha. The
family was so close, she said, the two
couples used to “double date.”
She told her mother everything,
Kim said, but she couldn’t tell her this.
Kim and Clete told no one. Kim
did not see a doctor because the visit
would show up after the insurance
claim went through. And Kim still
lived the life of a college freshman,
not an expectant mother.
“No research. No reading. No doc
tor,” she said. “I was still in denial. I
tried to go about my regular business
as if I were not pregnant thinking,
‘Oh, yeah, somehow it’s all just go
ing to go away.’”
She was rarely ill, she said, but felt
the baby kicking by October. Kim ate
right, didn’t drink or smoke, took vi
tamins, calcium pills and drank a lot
of milk — and that was it.
“I thought I could handle it chi my
own... I thought, I’m my own person,
I’m 18 now.”
Alone nut attacnea
At night, when Kim’s roommate
was not there, Kim said she sat in her
room and cried.
“I would talk to my boyfriend ev
ery night, and I would just cry about
it,” she said. “We talked about calling
someone who would keep it confiden
tial, but we just kept putting it off.”
When she was with Clete, she
could accept the life inside her, she
said. For Christmas, he even benight
her a pendent necklace with a garnet
— the January birth stone — guess
ing the baby would be bom early in
Over Christmas break, she man
aged to hide her bulging stomach and
an extra 40 pounds by making her
parents, and everyone else, believe she
was just gaining the usual “freshman
But on Jan. 23, the freshman 15
was starting to become the first-born
Thursday mailing, Kim went to
her Spanish class but skipped her af
ternoon classes because she was sick.
Her roommate dropped out after the
first semester, so Kim was alone.
The cramps began. She started to
bleed. She told herself she was not
going into labor. She sat on her coach,
watched television, drank hot tea and<
took some Advil.
At 7 pjn., she went to her friend's
room and told her she was having bad
cramps from her period. They watched
“Friends.” At 8:30, she called her par*
cnts with assurance she would still be
home the next day, but told her mom
she was hemorrhaging and “in a little
pain tonight.” At 9, she went to the
bathroom where it “felt good to push
a little bit.”
At 10:30, and in pain, she called
Clete. Both did not conceive of labor,
and thought she just needed rest. At
11:15, die went to her health aide, took
some belongings and stayed in her
health aide’s room. At 12:05 am. she
went back to the bathroom.
She said she was in and out of the
bathroom pushing almost every hour
until 3:15 a.m., when she went back
to her health aide’s room and, lying
in the spare bed, kept silently push
ing. At 5 a.m., she couldn’t stand it
At 5:15, in the bathroom, she
started losing blood and tissue. At
about 6:30, she felt the baby’s head.
“It’s time to go into labor, Kim,”
she told herself. “I proceeded to get
up and walk to Ruth’s (her health aide)
room, grab my keys and glasses, tell
Ruth, ‘I’m 10 times better, gotta go,
bye, and went back to my room.
Back in her dorm room, Kim lay
on her fold-out couch and pushed in
20-second intervals — a method she
said she learned on “ER.”
“In one of my hands I held a mir
ror. In the other I held the head.”
Then — staying as silent as the
secret she had been keeping — she
pushed until her secret was out.
A little after 7 a.m., she cut the
umbilical cord with a scissors, washed
her baby girl's mouth and nose out,
wrapped her in a clean, red T-shirt and
held her next to her chest. She wanted
to spend time with Katherine before
giving her up, she said.
The baby was crying, so Kim
turned the television volume up loud.
For four hours, from watching “Good
Morning America” to the “Young and
the Restless,” the young mother was
forced to accept her newborn. She even
named hen Katherine Grace, after her
deceased grandmother Grace
Sign for delivery
- In those four hours, Kim took a
180-degree turn to face the life.
“I couldn't let her go,” she said.
“She was mine ... Whoa, I was a
But it was 11:30 a.m. The blood
staining the room was Kim's, and she
was getting weak. She put Katherine
down to grab a glass of orange juice
and granola bars.
Initially, Kim planned to wrap the
baby up, drive it to an adoption cen
ter, drop it off and still be in Omaha
that afternoon and back in class on
But Kim was too weak to even
stand up. Though she was bonding
with Katherine, she still felt pressured
to give her up. She checked in the
phone book under adoption and called
the Nebraska Children’s Home to pick
up a baby — not from a hospital, but
from a dorm room.
For Bobbi Richard, the caseworker
from Nebraska Children’s Home, the
call from Kim’s dorm room came as a
shock. The sight of the blood-soaked
room was worse, as Richard said it
looked like “a bad car accident.”
“And Kim was as white as a
ghost,” Richard said. Kim had not yet
delivered the placenta — she didn’t
even know she had to. Richard said
Kim still refused to go to the hospital
because that would mean telling her
parents and everyone else. E v e n t u -
ally, Kim’s worsening condition won
over her confidentiality, and die was
on the way to Bryan Memorial Hospi
tal with Katherine in her arms.
Calling the shots
Inside, Kim knew she wanted to
keep Katherine, and she was seriously
starting to question the outside pres
sures to give up the baby.
“I wasn’t thinking what I wanted,”
she said. “I was thinking how to please
She was thinking of her parents,
who, at the time, were making a des
perate attempt to find her.
Kim’s mother said she had a sus
picion Kim was pregnant after pur
posely brushing up against her slightly
protruding stomach the week before
while Kim was at home. She said she
thought Kim might be five months
pregnant — not full term.
At 2:30 p.m., Kim called her
mother from the hospital.
“You’re not going to believe me,”
she told her mother.
“Did you have a miscarriage?”
“No, I hid the baby.”
“Where? Where’s the baby?”
“No. I hid the pregnancy for nine
When Marcia Coffeen hung up the
phone, she told her husband Bob
Coffeen they needed to go to Lincoln
because Kim had a baby.
“Whose Kim? Not our Kim.
They’ve got the wrong Kim.”
Marcia told him she talked with
their daughter. They had the right
Marcia, Bob and Kim's aunt Carla
Buchan, who is very close to her niece,
drove down to Lincoln together. Shock
was an understatement as they tried
to figure out how they had missed
Kim’s pregnancy altogether.
Bob said it was Kim’s nature,
though, to try to get away with some
thing until she was absolutely caught.
Like hiding “downslips” from high
school, Kim was always trying to com
mit “the perfect crime,” he said. But
this time, the evidence was crying for
Kim confessed most of her
“crimes” and other personal thoughts
to Carla. The two even shared a room
during Christmas, when Kim changed
clothes in front of her aunt, but Carla
said she never suspected.
An earlier conversation between
Carla and Kim weighed heavily on her
niece’s mind. They were talking about
birth control, Carla said, and Kim
asked what her parents’ reaction
would be if die were pregnant.
Carla’s comment: “They’d prob
ably go ballistic,” and it would be the
worst thing that could happen.
“That was just an off-the-cuff com
ment,” Carla said, and never realized
Kim would take it to heart.
In reality, Carla said, the family
would have sat down and worked out
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