To read the story of our precious Harlynn Renae, start here and follow the "next" links at the end of each post. Thank you for coming and sharing with us in this journey.

Friday, January 21, 2011


It was one of the worst nights in the NICU. Brent and I had both gone to give Haley her bath, as we had done every night. Afterwards, I gave her kangaroo care (skin-to-skin contact) to warm her up. The nurse slipped her inside my shirt, and she snuggled right into my chest - her tiny, frail frame against me and her bony knees bent in between us. Her petite fingers tickled my collarbone - her entire hand wasn't any bigger than the nub of bone at the base of my neck.

Two nurses we came to know and love had Haley as their charge. They sat with us and went over some "teaching". Teaching is a session where the nurses go over a list of items with you for things you need to watch for or be informed about: feedings, body temperature, breathing, bowel loops, heart murmurs, etc. While they were visiting with us, Haley's respiration sensor kept beeping. At one point, I moved her head to tilt it back a bit so she could get some air. She didn't like that and moved her head forward again. Finally, as the nurses were continuing to do their teaching, I started getting antsy and fidgeting around. The fact that her respiration alarm kept going off was bothering me. Her breathing was sporadic. I pulled her out of my shirt to swaddle her instead, and see if she could breathe better lying down than cuddled against me.

My daughter was blue.

The nurse gasped, I rubbed Haley's sternum, and Haley's color returned right away and she was breathing again. The nurse said, "Oh her head was probably like this" and she mimicked it being down - chin to chest - cutting off her little airway. I had tried to fix that. I held it together as I swaddled her and explained, stammered, that I had tried to fix it - that I wanted to put her in a different position to help her breathing.

They walked away for a bit and I got teary-eyed. Brent sat there next to me and assured me everything was okay, she was okay, it was all okay. But the tears started to fall. I sat there and stared at my daughter as she smiled in her sleep and the realization of how fragile she still was overwhelmed me.

More reluctantly than usual, I put her in her isolette to leave her for the night. The walk from her side to the car seemed painstakingly longer than I had been used to. The image of my daughter, blue, was frozen in my mind. My heart was deep in the very pit of my stomach. I was terrified. I was ridden with guilt. I was filled with doubt - of my own capabilities as a mother, and of what the road ahead would hold for our family.

The whole ride home I cried. I told Brent I had reached the "why me" stage. I was still supposed to be pregnant. We weren't supposed to have her two months premature. I shouldn't have had to leave my baby every night.

Once we got back to the house, I gathered myself together and started tidying up the bedroom. I let out an exasperated sigh as I asked Brent to tuck his sheet back into the foot of the bed. After he tucked it in, he stood up and wrapped his arms around me. I started to sob. He nestled his face in my shoulder and I just wept as he held me. I couldn't get the image of her blue face out of my mind. What would we have done if she wasn't hooked up to those monitors? How long would we have let her struggle to breathe? Kangaroo care was supposed to be the most beneficial, innocent way to bond with our preemie. She was supposed to be safe with her mommy.

I stopped crying, but didn't let go of Brent. I said a silent prayer, thanking God for my husband and for the fact that he was intuitive enough to know that was what I needed right then. I continued the silent prayer and asked God to protect our daughter and to never let anything like that happen again.

I didn't sleep all that great that night. Later in the afternoon the following day, I headed back to the hospital to spend some time with Haley. It was crowded in the NICU. Every parent, save for of one baby, was there. Haley's charge nurse was working on another baby but told me she would be right over. I reached in to the isolette and placed my hands on Haley - one on the crown of her head, and one cupping her feet. Her nurse came and asked if I wanted to do kangaroo care. I hesitated. Slowly, I began to nod. I had to sit in an office chair as all the rockers were occupied. She put Haley in my shirt. I checked the position of her head. I stared at that monitor displaying her heart rate, respiration, and O2 levels. For a solid hour and a half I stared at that monitor. I only looked away to give her a kiss or look down and check her breathing.

I was still rattled from the night before. She did fine.

Today, Haley is 10 months old. She speed-crawls laps around us. She feeds herself real foods. She babbles non-stop. She laughs when we play peek-a-boo. She doesn't fit inside my shirt anymore, and she doesn't cuddle nearly as whole-heartedly as she used to.

Ten months ago my life changed forever. I experienced things I never thought I would have to. I came to know just how deep, how wide, and how full God's love for us is. I almost lost my child - and that frightful night in the NICU, I thought I had endangered her life once again. God gave up His son for us on purpose. The heartache of watching your child suffer is inexplicable. Let alone to watch them die? I shudder at the unimaginable thought. Please, God, spare me from that pain. But He did that - for me. For Haley. For all of us.

That night in the NICU was treacherous for me, but the entire experience has taught me so much about prayer, grace, and His power. Life is hard. It throws us down and spins us in all sorts of directions - it beats us up and leaves us for dead. But there is life and freedom and forgiveness in God. He will carry us through the toughest of times, and He will sustain us through all of our "why me" moments. I have a 10-month-old miracle....and I praise God for the opportunities to share her story - His story.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Old Fashioned - It's More Than Just a Donut.

I love tradition. I love heirlooms. I love generational treasures - be they material items, or stories passed down. So many stories, trinkets, recipes, have been known to make me feel a strong connection to the generations before me. I always have a sense of wanting to go "backwards" in time, and re-live parts of history (taking the most modern of conveniences with me; my dishwasher and indoor plumbing ranking right on top of the list). Aside from having to have a latte more often than not, I have sometimes felt I was born in the wrong era. Life is too fast-paced for this country bumpkin. So often I feel we, as a society, take for granted what we have at our fingertips, and we forget to take the time to make special memories, to share favorite past-times, and to keep the practices of our ancestors.

If you've known me for more than ten minutes, you know I knit. I don't only knit because it's an addictive hobby and one of the most fun and fulfilling ways a person can spend their time. Although those are definite reasons of mine, they're not THEE reason. When I was eight years old, my grandmother Pearlaine, sat me on the sofa and taught me how to knit. She started me on making a dishcloth. I only ever knit when we were together those too few times over the years, and most of it was spent correcting mistakes rather than making much progress. It took me eight years to finish the dishcloth I started, but I finished. I was the only grandchild who did. I kind of put it away for several years after that, but since the age of about 23 or 24, I have knit (somewhat obsessively) ever since. It's something people used to do all the time. Men and women. They knit to provide for their families - clothes, gifts, socks, blankets. Not just super cool scarves (that you can purchase from me to benefit the March of Dimes - message me!) for the sake of looking trendy.

These same people who knit as a means of providing for their families also canned, baked their own bread, slaughtered their own chickens, grew their own gardens, ground their own flour, milked their own cows, dried their own spices, and darned their own socks. Yet today, you and I hit up the latest sales at Kohl's, grab a frozen dinner to pop in the microwave from our local grocery store, and swing by Target to buy a 45-pack of multi-colored socks to get us through the next few months.

I've been thinking a lot recently on what I want to pass down to Haley. I want her to know how to bake goodies from scratch. I want her to know how to make my awesomely delicious fudge. I want her to learn to sew. I desperately want her to learn (and enjoy) to knit. I might even learn how to can so I can teach her how to do it one day. I don't want to solely depend on our modern conveniences and technologies. I want to be able to hold on to the customs and traditions of those before me as well. My grandmother wasn't just teaching me a hobby. She was teaching me a skill. We have the luxuries of modern convenience before us, but there are valuable lessons to be learned and wonderful experiences to be had in doing some things the old-fashioned way. I will forever remember Grandma peering through her glasses as they sat perched upon her tiny nose, pointing to my dropped stitch and saying, "Now looky here. You have to go back and fix this. Remember how I showed you?"

If you've made any resolutions in the new year, and especially if you haven't, I want to challenge you. Take some time to find a new hobby - or try something from "the olden days" even just once. Bake yourself a loaf of bread. Make your own yogurt. Plant a garden and savor it's harvest. Learn how to knit. Sit down in the morning with a cup of strong coffee and a newspaper while you watch the sun rise from the comfort of your wooden rocking chair. Sit with an elder and marvel in the history of their lives as they share their stories with you.

Rather than worrying about remembering deadlines at work, or when the last time you changed the filter in your furnace was, spend some time remembering the toils and labors of those generations gone by, and appreciate the hard work, craft, and skill they wanted to pass on to all of us.

"Now looky here." It will be a look well worth taking.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Memories

Every once in a while, something that happens will spur a thought - a memory. I find myself getting lost along the road to times gone by. Of all the things I remember, I always wonder what of my life I've forgotten. My sister will tell stories from our childhood and I won't have a clue what she's talking about. A friend will want to reminisce and I don't have a clear picture of what they're bringing up. But what I do remember, what I do have stored away in the picture albums of my mind, is so worth the resurrection.

I'm not proud of all of the choices I've made in life; not proud of some of the ways I did or said things. I'm proud of the fact I've made it here, though, and of the realization I'm not perfect, no matter that I thought I was close to it once upon a time. I remember some of it - but only so I can learn from it and not make the same mistakes.

I remember drinking from the elephant cup. I remember swimming lessons. I remember the hardwood floors of the house on Woodland. I remember Rick and Edie coming to visit. I remember going to Tawny's house and counting the train cars, and her sneezes. I remember Mom taking us to the pier at Pismo for walks. I remember the BBQs John King hosted. I remember Eric - and how much it hurt when the state said he couldn't be a part of our family. I remember Brandon Watson daring me to eat dog food at his house. I think their dog's name was Checkers. I remember Christmas Eve at Grandma Vida's. I remember the ride home with Uncle Steve after eating at Pea Soup Anderson's. I remember Steph's imaginary friend, Piggly Wiggly. I remember Roslyn squirting water in my ear, then helping her feed the rabbits. I remember stinging nettles. I remember the nieghbor's garage on fire, and shaking as I peered out the blinds of our living room window. I remember my first boyfriend, Brian. We never spoke, but somehow we were in a relationship. I remember Mrs. Jones, the librarian, and how no one rocked shorts and tights like she did. She was the coolest. I remember Mrs. Meagher telling me she would miss me at 6th grade graduation. I remember my "big bro" Dave, letting my sister and I ski behind him in the dirt as we hung on to the sleeves of his sweatshirt. I remember softball and running smack in to Sean Lindsey who was guarding first base. I flew backwards about twelve feet. I remember the first time I shaved my legs, and how it made me feel like the most beautiful and sophisticated seventh grader in the world. I remember (yesterday) wishing I didn't have to shave my legs. I remember having an enormous crush on Taylor - that lasted for years. YEARS. I remember Judy swiping pictures of him for me. I remember going back to visit and going to the movies with Taylor. I remember thinking of names for our children.

I remember moving from California to Wyoming, and how much I hated it. That didn't last long. Wyoming is my home now. Always will be. I remember Amy and Lizza and the ridiculous nicknames we had and the fits of laughter that erupted. I remember how Tiffani and I overcame our intense dislike of one another to become best friends - almost 17 years now. I remember getting Maloa's letter when Mary died. I remember walking, singing, crying in the fog. I remember walking to Jamie's house every day for lunch. I remember being paid to type papers for the boys. I remember being the mascot and sweating buckets during basketball season. I remember baking cookies. I remember fighting with Mom. I remember sitting on the hood of the car and watching the sun rise. I remember the house in the country. I miss that house. I remember being baptized in the pacific ocean. I remember hating life. I remember swearing I would never let a teenager pull the wool over my eyes, even though I was one. I remember the accident....and the other four. I'm much better at driving now. I remember the shooting stars from the southfork highway. I remember when Dad thought I was smoking. He was a couple of years premature on that accusation. I remember "dude" and Corral West. I remember being a size two. I remember my first apartment. Yuck. I remember the hike up Deer Creek. The longest hike of my life. I remember thinking my lungs were going to explode, but trying to pretend like I was fine. I remember waiting tables and the interesting people I met. I remember the Brass Rail. I remember teaching Justin how to two step.

I remember Tennessee. Nashville. Grand Ol Opry. Travis Tritt. My first tattoo. I remember those bugs on campus. I remember sitting on Jenni's roof. I remember breaking Brent's heart. I remember Aaron breaking mine. But the singing - lawh the singing. I can still hear the harmonies in that outdoor courtyard. Still taste the Taco Bell nachos. Still hear those bugs. Those blasted, huge bugs.

I remember being so sick right before my wedding. Salmonella. Strep throat. I remember Brent not wanting to dance. I remember crying in to our checkbook register. I remember him cooking me dinner when I was sick and learning that minced onions is an entirely different ingredient from chopped onions. I remember being content. Completely happy with where I was. I remember moving to Fargo. In the winter. Yesterday marked our 5th anniversary of moving here. I remember being surrounded by friendly people but having no friends. I remember the landlady's eye shadow. I remember the Las Vegas trip. My husband going to Mauritius. I remember auditioning for American Idol and Tiffani right by my side. I remember buying this house. I remember regretting buying this house. I remember our anniversary trip to Mapelwood. And the mosquitoes. I remember finding out I was pregnant. I remember being unexpectedly admitted to the hospital. I remember holding Haley for the first time. I remember the surreal feeling, realizing I was a mommy. I remember bringing her home.

And now it's the start of another year. Another opportunity to make more memories. To capture more snapshots of life and store them away in my mind. Another chance to reflect on everything life has offered me, and be grateful for the chance to remember any of it.