Our Very Own Wall of Jericho

Our Very Own Wall of Jericho

Do you know the story of the wall of Jericho? It’s in the book of Joshua, chapter 6. God had promised to deliver His people to the Promised Land. Once they got there, the only thing the Israelites had to do was get through the wall of Jericho.

The image below is what the wall around the city looked like. The first wall was 20-26 feet high. Then an embankment sloped upward. Then, a second wall that was 20-26 feet high.

How do you get past that?! The Lord told Joshua to have His people March around the city once per day for 6 days while blowing trumpets, but no other sounds – the Lord didn’t want people speaking doubt over what they were doing. On the seventh day, the people marched around the city 7 times and shouted so loud they walls fell flat and they captured the city.

We have encountered our own wall before and you all know it very well. Nell being born early and not being home with us was a wall that felt too tall to get over. But by the grace of God, and a million answered prayers, we got through the hardest time in our lives.

But life doesn’t come with just one wall. Here we are sitting at yet another wall.

I’ve previously written about building our new home in Missouri. We started the process in November. Very quickly the house was framed. We saw the roof and drywall go up at an alarming rate. The weather slowed us down a little bit. We had a ton of snow and some rain.

Recently we’ve ran into the issue of our builder wanting to raise the price of the house on us, regardless of our signed contract. Thanks to our God and an amazing realtor, he finally agreed to sell at contract price. And just when we thought we were in the clear, we weren’t.

Now, because of weather, he hasn’t been able to finish our landscaping (sprinklers, sod, and fencing). However, our contract closing day was yesterday – May 28. We didn’t close.

We signed an extension with the hopes that he’ll be able to have everything done before June 8th because we lose an incredible interest rate on June 9th. At this point our builder is left with two options in order to close: 1) finish the yard or 2) front the money for the yard into an escrow account. Unfortunately, option 1 isn’t looking good. And option 2 is up in the air because he doesn’t want to front as much money as he would need. We’re left with only legal action after that.

I don’t want to go that far. All we want is to be able to move into our new home and get settled. It’s tough to feel like you’re in limbo. Like we have no where we really belong.

We’re very blessed to have parents that have given us a living space as we go through this process, but we’re ready to start our lives here. And we’re stuck feeling like that might not happen right now.

I tell you this to ask for prayer. We have seen so many prayers answered just in the year alone. Between Nellie, moving half way across the county, my mama friend – Brittany & her son Wyatt, and my cousin – Jordyn & her son Ellis – how can we deny the presence of God all around us? How can we say He is not answering our prayers? HE IS!

We just need to do it again. And again. So, here we are. Doing it again.

This morning we sang the perfect song for what this post is really about.

This is how I fight my battles.

This is how I fight my battles.

It may look like I’m surrounded

But I’m surrounded by you.

I fight my battles by praying and handing them over to the Lord. He will fight my battles for me as long as I am faithful to Him.

Everyone Deserves To Be Remembered

Everyone Deserves To Be Remembered

The last couple of weeks have been difficult for my family, to say the least. My dad, Nellie, and I travelled to CA to visit. We arrived on Monday, May 3rd. That very evening my grandmother, Mary, my mom and aunt’s biological mother, fell in the middle of the night. The next morning, when we found her, we called 911 because we thought she may have hit her head. She did.

Phone calls from countless doctors came flooding in all day Tuesday. Over a mere four or five hours we got news that she had, in fact, hit her head and had some swelling. But what they said next was more than we were prepared to hear. They had found multiple brain tumors.

My grandmother has epilepsy so we had just had brain scans done 6 months before and there was nothing. Confusion set in immediately. But we now had an explanation for why she had been so confused and unstable in recent months. Then, more phone calls. As it turns out, she had ovarian cancer that had metastasized to her lungs, then to her brain. Information that families usually get over a period of months was given to us over a period of hours.

She was brought home the evening of Wednesday, May 5th on hospice. She was unable to swallow, speak, or see. They told us she had 1-2 weeks.

That was a lot of words to get to what I really want to say. And that is that you never know what kind of life someone has lived. You never know someone else’s experiences. It’s difficult to really know someone.

I did not know my grandmother growing up. She lived in Missouri for most of my life. So, as kids, we called her “grandma from Misery (Missouri)”. For us, reality was that we had a grandma that we didn’t know. And, truth be told, neither did my mom or aunt. As all of us do, my grandmother made choices that ended up having lasting effects on those around her. And unfortunately that meant that we never got to know her the way we would have liked. There was so much about her life that we were oblivious to and that made it hard to understand her and the way she thought about things.

However, the Lord gave my family a beautiful opportunity to learn things about my grandmother that we didn’t know. And what it taught us was that someone’s circumstances shape who they become. The relationship between my mom and aunt and their mom has been strained for a very long time. And something like that causes more than just broken relationships.

I call the opportunity beautiful because in the last days of her life we were able to reconcile feelings that we weren’t sure would ever change. We were able to pray with her and let her know that she was loved.

She peacefully passed away last night.

Because she couldn’t communicate with us, I don’t know if she made the decision to accept the Lord into her heart. But I hope she did. I wish we had known who she was and how she grew up and what she thought of the world around her. My only hope now is that she chose to go with the Lord and will see us again one day.

Rest In Peace.

Mary Ursula Clark

November 17, 1937 – May 17, 2021

God Has Done It Again!

God Has Done It Again!

Back in December I wrote about my cousin Jordyn. She gave birth to her son, Ellis, at 27 weeks and 2 days. I wrote that post about a week after he was born – November 27, 2020. He has been in the NICU ever since. She has been staying up near the children’s hospital. The hospital is 3 hours from home where her husband and two young daughters are.

Ellis has had a rough journey. Over the course of his NICU stay he has developed NEC twice! For those that are unfamiliar NEC is necrotizing enterocolitis. NEC is the most common and serious intestinal disease among premature babies. It happens when tissue in the small or large intestine is injured or inflamed. For Ellis, it was brought on by fortified formula feeds. This has been a very long 5 months for Jordyn and her family.

However, I HAVE THE BEST NEWS!

Ellis came home TODAY! Tuesday, May 11, 2021 will go down as the one of the best days of their lives.

Are these just the best photos? I can speak from experience when I say these photos contain smiles like you’ll never see again.

Countless prayers were answered once again. Ellis had a much longer journey than we did. Jordyn was in the hospital for 5 weeks before he was born. That translates to 200 days in Kansas City (away from home) and 165 days in the NICU. The Lord was fully present during their stay. We don’t always see the blessings, but we trust His plan.

Thank you to those of you that prayed for this sweet family. To those of you that asked about them. To those that were broken hearted for them. To everyone that spent any time at all thinking about them.

Jordyn and Colten, we are so happy for you guys. We know this joy and can’t tell you the happiness we have seeing you two get to this day!

It’s Tough Being A Mama

It’s Tough Being A Mama

I think all of us mamas can admit that at one point or another we got frustrated with our littles when things got hard. Even when they’re really young and can’t communicate their feelings or needs with us, it can be hard. We often feel like we don’t know what to do because we don’t understand them. And, in turn, that causes mamas, and daddies, to feel lost and sometimes hopeless.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but our first year has been full of crazy ups and downs. I’m not even talking about our time in the NICU. Honestly, that time now seems so easy compared to having her home. I know how that may sound. I’m not trying to say that our NICU time wasn’t the worst 70 days…EVER, but I am saying that having her home is another beast.

Since bringing her home we’ve gone through lockdown, an insane grocery shortage, A HUGE out-of-state move, and new jobs. That’s just the beginning. I’m sure you all know that parenthood comes with a bunch of other life changes. With moving came new jobs and with that new schedules. Bryan has gone from creating the schedule to waiting for it to come out. That means he’s working weird hours and they vary all the time. And I have gone from working an hour from home to working a few feet from the bedroom. This is where my frustration comes into play.

People weren’t kidding when they said that being a parent is a full-time job. That means that I now have a part-time bookkeeping job and a full-time mama job (which I don’t actually consider a job). Cue the frustration. Trying to make sure Nell is fed and happy, get some work done, and make sure the house stays semi clean makes it feel like I never stop moving. I don’t really get to sit down unless Nell is sleeping. And right now that’s hard because she wants to be held. And I’m okay with that because she’s getting so big so fast and I want that time with her.

For me, all of this means that my emotions run high. And sometimes I have trouble regulating those emotions. Nell and I have had a few rough days lately. And while I hate to actually admit this out loud, I do feel like it’s maybe necessary to deal with what’s happening. I yelled at her. I yelled at my sweet baby girl who doesn’t know how to use words to tell me what she wants or needs. I yelled at my baby over my own frustrations. I have tears just typing this out. You guys, I yelled at her.

Immediately, I stopped. I walked over to Nell and I picked her up and just hugged her. I cried while I told her how sorry I was for raising my voice like I did. I told her how much I love her and what a miracle I think she is to us. And then we cuddled on the couch and watched Frozen 2 together. She won’t remember these days, but I will. And I’ll always remember how I spoke to her during this time. That alone is enough for me to be completely different.

God has given me a better than average miracle baby in Nellie. She is absolutely perfect. But she’s proving to be just like any other toddler. The girl screams when she gets mad. She hits when I take things away from her. She cries when we walk out of the room. She throws food on the floor that she doesn’t like. She also laughs when we tickle her. She smiles when she see Olaf or Maui. She gives the best hugs and kisses. She’s so smart. And the best part, she’s mine.

So, yes, I’ll have days where I’m incredibly frustrated. But it’s my responsibility to make sure that what I’m feeling isn’t thrown at her. I have to make sure I show her how much she’s loved even if we’re having a not-so-great day.

It’s Been One Year

It’s Been One Year

Last year about this time I wrote about the best days of my life.

1. Jan 2010 – The day I met Bryan.

2. Jan 25, 2014 – The day Bryan asked me to marry him.

3. Nov 12, 2016 – The day I married Bryan.

4. July 26, 2019 – The day we found out I was pregnant.

5. Jan 1, 2020 – The day Nell was born (even if it was traumatic)

6. Mar 10, 2020 – The day Nell came home – after 70 days in the NICU.

None of those days would have been possible without the one that came before it. That’s why they’re all the best days. But that last one was a total life changer.

We did not walk in to the NICU that morning expecting them to tell us that we could take her home. And then when we did get her in her car seat and walk out it almost felt wrong. Like we were stealing her from them. And that was definitely the most nerve-racking drive home of our entire lives. I was so nervous the whole time. She was just so tiny.

Since then, we’ve had 365 days of smiles, tears, cuddles, and screams. They haven’t been easy. And moving half way across the country with an 8.5 month old (5.5 months adjusted) was a entirely different beast to overcome.

But now we have a (mostly) healthy 14 month old (11 months adjusted). She’s currently battling what we think could be mild RSV, which mimics the common cold. Nothing a little Zyrtec won’t help.

While the last year has been a learning experience, a difficult one, we wouldn’t trade it for the world. I didn’t know what to expect out of motherhood but I have been incredibly blessed. Nell is such a happy baby. She makes most things so easy on us.

If you, or someone you know, is going through the NICU experience know that you are not alone. I know it’s not easy and there may be some days where you just want to give up. I’ve been there and I know sometimes it can be hard to just keep going. While our journeys most likely look very different, I’m here. I’m here to listen, to talk, to…whatever. Because as a NICU mama I’ve got you.

Progress Over Perfection.

Progress Over Perfection.

If you know me then you know that perfection is something I strive for in a lot of different aspects of my life. And while I almost never get that I do try to achieve it. Striving for perfect is a mistake in itself. But my bigger mistake is expecting things out my control to also be perfect. The best example of this is Nellie.

Now, let me explain before you start thinking badly of me for wanting my daughter to be perfect. Because that’s not what this is. With Nellie being a preemie I knew that her development would be different. Average development for her actual age versus the average development for her adjusted age has me completely thrown off. On March 1st she will be 14 months actual, 11 months adjusted.

I have been spending so much time with her lately and in that time I’ve been able to teach her so many things. If you read my last post you’ll see how much she is learning. Right now, we’re focusing on walking. And while I don’t want to push her to do it before she’s ready, I’m having a hard time reconciling the actual vs adjusted development in my head.

Part of me keeps thinking she’s behind because she’s 14 months and isn’t walking yet. And then I take a step back and realize that she’s really 11 months and totally on track for average development. I know every baby is different and they learn in their own time. But I have this lingering feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on that won’t let me just let it all go. That probably sounds really bad. And I promise I’m not trying to make her do things she isn’t ready to do just yet.

Here’s the good news. Last night, February 26, 2021 at about 8:45pm Nellie-Anne took her very first steps!

She has been standing on her own for a while, but when she gets ready to move she goes straight to her hands and knees and crawls to her destination. Last night she kept letting go of the couch and dancing (bouncing) to the song in her movie. Bryan and I both hit record on our phones every time she did it, but then she’d go down to the floor or grab the couch again. So, we stopped recording and finished our conversation.

OF COURSE, when we put our phones down is when she decides to walk for the first time. It was only about 4 steps, but they were four very real, slightly wobbly steps from the ottoman over to the couch.

I’m not mad that we didn’t get it on video. This time it will be just for us. We’ll share videos once she’s really up and walking from one spot to another, but for now, we get to keep this particular milestone to ourselves.

I’m reminded every single day that I’m not perfect. And that the things I do aren’t perfect. But Nellie, she is. In my eyes, she’s absolutely perfect. This stands true even if it takes her a few more weeks to really get going on her feet. Even if she doesn’t say intelligible words after most kids do. Though, she is my daughter so I’m sure that won’t be an issue.

I know she’ll be fine. She’ll grow, walk, get teeth, and talk all in her own time. And I’ll be fine. I’ll continue to remind myself that God gave me this perfect little girl and has trusted me with her. And He didn’t do that so that I would worry about every little thing.

Thank you for continuing to follow out journey into parenthood with Miss Nell. We love having you all along for the ride.

All The Changes.

All The Changes.

Well, am I the worst blog mom or what? Things have been so insane over here I didn’t even realize it had been almost two months since I posted anything. And worse than that is that there is so much that has happened in that time.

Where should I start? Since the last post, Miss Nell his decided she’d like to learn how to walk. She can’t yet, not on her own at least. But she’s giving it her best shot. She can stand by herself, but when she’s ready to move she goes down to her knees and crawls. She has also learned how to use her toys, pillows, chair, and our legs to climb up onto the couch or ottoman to grab whatever it is she’s got her eyes on.

She’s learned how to successfully give a high five, blow kisses and put her hands in the air and wave them around like she just doesn’t care. She can also stack her toy cups and knows to put her toy phone to her ear when we say “ring, ring”. The girl talks nonstop, smiles if you smile at her, and laughs at everything. Sometimes, it seems, she’ll laugh just to get someone’s attention.

We also had some insane weather that kept me and Nellie inside for most of February. You think that would have given me all the time I needed to write, but I spent that time with Nell. We sat inside while it was, at it’s coldest, -15 degrees (with a windchill of -27) and covered in like 5 inches of snow outside. We have officially made it through our first Midwest winter. And the coldest in years, from what I’ve been told by locals. They said the snow wasn’t really surprising even though they don’t typically get that much at one time. But they also said that hadn’t experienced temperatures that low in 80 years. Needless to say, we spent A LOT of time inside to avoid the cold.

We did, however, take Nellie outside to make her first snow angel and play with the snow for a minute. She loved it!

Every single day is the same around here. Except for one thing, Nellie. She changes every day. We have the same schedule and routine every day. But she is constantly showing me how amazing and smart she has become. She is learning new things so quickly and I feel each day slip through my fingers quicker than the day before.

I am so grateful that the Lord has put Bryan and I in a place where I can be home with her and still have a job that helps support our family. These days are becoming shorter and shorter and I’m not sure how long they’ll last before I’m sending her off to school.

For now, I’ll enjoy the craziness. I’ll wash all the messy plates, do the laundry, clean up her toys 500 times a day, wipe all the boogers, change all the diapers, and play on the floor for so long that I can’t feel my legs when I finally get up. I can’t ever imagine what a day would be like without her and, right now, I’m not ready to find out.

Next month we finally get to celebrate her first birthday with our family and friends who are able to be out here. And even though her birthday was almost two months ago, I feel like this celebration makes it real. She’s growing up too fast for this mama.

1 Year & 100 Posts.

1 Year & 100 Posts.

After Nell was born I expressed to my mother-in-law, Renee, that I was having a hard time relaying information about our situation to everyone. I was so grateful for the messages and phone calls, but I was having difficulty processing it myself and I was getting to the point where I was asking my family members to relay information for me.

She suggested that I start a blog. She said that this would allow me to get information out to everyone and it would be a creative outlet for all the emotions I was feeling. So, I did.

One year ago I started NICU To Home. And it has been such a wonderful journey. It became more than a place for me to post health info and photos. It became a place where I could be open and honest about feelings I had never had before. And even after Nellie came home it remained a place where I could talk about everything, baby, mama, and family.

This particular post also happens to be my 100th post. And I just can’t even believe I had enough content to post 100 times.

No matter how long you’ve been here with us, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read our story. Thank you for your kind words. Thank you for your love and support.

Here’s a photo of our cutie, just for fun.

Building in Ozark

Building in Ozark

When Bryan and I started talking about moving to Missouri we were trying to decide between building a new home or buying one for sale. It really came down to when we moved. It didn’t make sense for us to buy one for sale when we couldn’t be there to see it. Building made sense because it would give us some time to get out here.

Once we were out here we felt like our options opened up tremendously because now we actually go look at houses. The hard part is that this is the house that we’ll want to live in for a long time, so we wanted specific things. Ultimately, my aunt, who is all our realtor, told us about a builder that had some lots in a community we really liked. We met with him, liked his plans, and decided to build.

We’ve been visiting about once a week to see the progress. It’s been going slow because of the weather, but we visited today and we were very surprised to see that the framing had gone up! I was ready to cry because I was so excited. And I wasn’t the only one.

When we pulled up there were guys working on the house. I got out and told one of them that we are the homeowners and asked if we could take a photo. He said we absolutely could and then turned around and said, “hey, these are the homeowners. That’s so cool!”

So, here are the progress photos of our house and the last one is what the front of our house will look like.

We have a lot that is just over quarter acre. It’ll have 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a huge yard for Nell and Lucy. It should be complete no later than the end of May.

366 Days.

366 Days.

It’s been 366 days since Nellie-Anne joined us, three months too early.

I can’t remember what we had for breakfast yesterday, but I can tell you the exact moment I realized that what I was feeling was Nellie ready to be born. To be honest, that day haunts me a little. And I still have nightmares about the weeks that followed.

My last post was about the morning my water broke. It was confusing and scary. And the 5 days after that were much of the same. I hated the hospital bed. I hated that I had to stay in bed with all the monitors on me. I hated that I had to rush the only shower I got that week because they needed to get us back on the monitors. I hated all of it. What I hated more was feeling like my body was failing her.

One of the neonatologists came in to my room one of the first days I was there. He was there to tell us about some of the things we needed to prepare ourselves for. He talked about possible lung issues, heart issues, and brain issues she could have. He told us why they were giving me magnesium and the steroids and the antibiotics. He told us to be prepared for a lot of unexpected ups and downs.

My doctor told me that she wouldn’t be checking my dilation as often as they normally might once a woman’s water breaks because, in my situation, the risk of infection was too high and they were trying to keep me pregnant as long as possible. They wanted to keep Nell in for at least 7 weeks. 7 weeks! We didn’t make it that long.

We didn’t make it because I was having contractions. They only checked me three times after I was admitted. Once when I said I was having contractions, I was 4cm. Once on December 31 because the contractions were so bad they gave me my epidural, I was 6cm. And the final time on January 1 when I said I felt pressure. She checked me and all she said was, “it’s time, mama”. And then I was a mom about 15 minutes later. But I didn’t feel like a mom. I didn’t get to hold my baby. I didn’t get to see her for what felt like forever. And when I was discharged two days later I left without a baby. I went home a mom without a baby.

Without my baby.

I’ve thought so many times about going to see a therapist, but haven’t done it. Honestly, I probably should. There are so many emotions that come with being a mom, especially a first-time mom, and then adding having a micro-preemie on top of that. The trauma that came from being in the NICU and the PTSD that followed once we were home are something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. And they are still things that I deal with every single day.

A fellow preemie mama friend of mine text me the other day to check on me. She wanted to see how I was doing with Nellie’s first birthday coming up. She said she’s sure I’m excited about Nell being one, but wanted to know how I was doing with all the memories that would come up. I don’t expect anyone else to think to ask me about that aspect of the day. Why would anyone think about that unless they’ve been through it? I understand that. She got me thinking about how, as excited as I am, a lot of the space in my head and my heart are taken up of the memories of what we went through. And I don’t know what to do with that. I’m sure it will go away someday, but when?

This platform has been therapeutic for me. I was able to share our NICU journey and then all the stuff that came afterward. And I love writing about all of that. I love sharing the good and the bad. Because I know I’m not alone. And I love that you all still read these posts. It’s so helpful to me and I feel so loved when you all respond to them.

Thank you for following us for the last year. Thank you for answering my questions, giving me advice, and reassuring me that I’m doing a great job. Thank you for loving our sweet Nellie-Anne for the last 366 days.

Happy 1st Birthday, sweet girl. Our start may have been a rough one, but I wouldn’t trade a single day of it for the whole world. Mommy and Daddy love you so much.