what its like: to lose a parent.

I don’t even know how to introduce our next contributor to the What’s It Like series. Amanda Jass and I met a handful of years ago and God sure knew what He was doing when He connected us. Amanda and I had the opportunity to co-write In the Wait together, and also, celebrate the birth of 4 babies between the two of us.


The “In the Wait” team! <3

 She’s the real deal – as sweet and genuine as can be, and absolutely filled with a faith that encourages you to dive deeper as well. Amanda, thank you for sharing this personal and painful experience with us today. I know your dad would be so proud of you and your family.

Here’s what its like to lose a parent. Grab a tissue and prepare to be moved by her words. 


I still vividly remember the day we heard the news about my dad. My mom called while I was sitting at my first grown-up job, and through tears, she said those three awful words: “Dad has cancer.” I felt like my heart dropped into my stomach. My football-watching, cheesy-joke-telling, ridiculously smart, and straight-up amazing dad. It didn’t make sense.

A few days after the initial news, my mom, sister, and I were sitting in my dad’s hospital room with him when the doctor came in to give an update. The cancer had already spread. We learned that aside from a miracle, there was no chance of remission.

We were blessed to have over two more years together as a family after his diagnosis. Then in September 2012, my dad went to his eternal home to be with Jesus. Even though we had time with my dad before he passed away, I still felt very numb and was almost in shock those first few weeks. I certainly had some hard moments, but it wasn’t until a couple of months after he was gone that I entered into a more intense season of grieving.

People kept saying how well I seemed to be doing, but they didn’t see all the tears and brokenness behind closed doors. It’s strange when you lose someone you love so dearly. It’s like the whole world just kind of stops. Like you’re in some type of alternate reality. Yet when you look around, people are continuing their day-to-day hustle as if nothing ever happened. They’re not doing it to be cruel though. They simply don’t know.

Everyone’s experience losing a parent is going to be different. Just like every human is unique, every relationship and situation will have its own nuances too. Was it a close, loving relationship or just the opposite? Was the death sudden or somewhat expected? Did they live out what we consider a full and happy life or were they gone far too early?

My dad and I were very close. We talked about almost anything, sometimes for hours on end. He was an incredible man who modeled Jesus to me and to others. I’m thankful to have had such a great relationship with a loving father for as long as I did because I realize that’s certainly not a given. In some ways, this made things easier because I didn’t have a lot of regrets regarding our relationship. In other ways, it made losing him that much harder because there was such a huge hole after he was gone. 

Something that I don’t know if I’ve ever really talked about before was an event that happened the evening after my dad left this earth. My husband, sister, and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. There were some kids riding their bikes, and as we got closer we witnessed one kiddo take a pretty brutal wipe out. We rushed over to help. Although he seemed alright other than a few nasty scrapes and being a little distraught from the spill, we made sure he got home safely. For a brief moment, I was able to get outside of my own mind which was already replaying the events of the day. It’s strange, but in a way, it was like God was saying that there is hope—even purpose—in the pain.

It’s been over five years since my dad’s been gone, and I still have moments when the grief suddenly hits so hard. Like when I think about how my daughters will never get to meet their Grandpa Mike here on earth. Or when I have a tricky theology question I want to discuss. Or when something in our house breaks and I remember how much my dad loved to help his family any way he could. I still miss him so very much, but thanks to God’s grace, things have gotten a lot better.

I’ve seen how God is able to work through our heartache and bring healing when and where we need it the most. We live in a broken world, and although God doesn’t want us to hurt, He can take our brokenness and use it for good if we let Him in. This is what my dad chose to do basically all of his life. He was sad to leave his family here on earth, but he had so much hope because of God’s promise of eternity in heaven for those who believe. 

Each one of us can have the same kind of confident assurance my dad had if we choose to put our faith in Jesus. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, I am confident that I will be reunited with my dad again someday. I believe that God created humans with a hope for eternity because that is one of many things that can lead us to Him.

Out of everything I love about my dad, I am the most thankful for all the times he pointed me toward our Creator. Our loving, heavenly Father who offers us hope that extends far beyond the grave. A hope that is infinitely greater than anything we could ever ask for or imagine.

“God is able to do far more than we could ever ask for or imagine.” Ephesians 3:20

unnamed (4)Amanda is from Minnesota and lives in a suburb of Minneapolis with her husband, Brian, and their two sweet daughters. Quality family time, listening to a good podcast, and sipping coffee with friends are a few of her favorite activities. She has a background working in higher education and ministry, and she enjoys her primary role of supporting her family in the home.

PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cyclesraise a child with special needsuse an egg donorbe a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse,  Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriagesuffer with endometriosis. experience depressionstart a company, and have a micro preemie. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

NIAW: flip the script

41Whooohooo! This week is a big in the infertility community world, as its National Infertility Awareness Week.


There is SO MUCH fun stuff going on this week in order to raise awareness and start Flipping the Script on conversations that are taking place about infertility. To check out some of the stuff I’ve been a part of, you can look here:


Now let’s talk infertility.


The whole reason I started this blog back in 2012 was simple: we needed to start talking about the “I” word … infertility. There is a significant gap in the conversations that take place about this disease, and yet we know the 1 in 8 couples will face a struggle with either infertility or secondary infertility at some point in their lives. This isn’t just people who waited to long to start a family, these are couples who are young and old, have a variety of incomes, lifestyles, jobs, and faiths. And yet, despite the fact that it’s a disease, we are seeing significant barriers that still stand in the way to get care. The costs are excruciating and yet only 15 states require insurance companies to cover it. For those that don’t cover it? We are talking at least $20,000 for a single IVF cycle.

And the affects of infertility? Well, it doesn’t just crush the couple themselves, but its grips touch many parts of their lives. The themes I have experienced and see around me in others who are struggling are clear.

Infertility affects marriages. Medical bills. Treatments. Timed intercourse. All of those raging hormones resulting in mood swings. Heartache. Trying to cope. Navigating in-law dynamics and how supportive (or unsupportive) the family is. I am happy to say that many times, infertility can bring a marriage closer, but only was communication was made a top priority and grace was given freely during all of the emotional swings. For us, our marriage first and foremost had to be rooted on Jesus and even then, infertility challenged our faith and taught us so much.

And sadly, not every marriage makes it. The conversations go from being calm to erupting. Disagreements take place on when treatments should stop. People process miscarriages differently. Words are said. Hurt sets in. Resentment takes root. And it breaks my heart when I hear of these stories, but the truth is, marriages become a causality of infertility.

Infertility affects friendships. The way your friends handle your infertility makes or breaks a friendship. At times, friends fear saying the wrong thing and that silence builds and becomes unbearable. Resentment sets in – don’t they care!? – and you are left feeling isolated. Friendships are tested when someone else gets pregnant. Emotions like guilt seep in, creating division. And let’s not forget the social interaction divide that can happen. Suddenly friendships have to navigate how to handle jealously, bitterness, and resentment. Friendships can easily start to fizzle when intentionality is forgotten. Yes, friendships can also flourish in these seasons. Friends response with sensitivity, love, sympathy, compassion, and care. And perhaps new friendships emerge, based on similar experiences and others begin to validate the heartbreak.

Infertility affects your family. It forces couples who share to become vulnerable, and as a result, potentially grow closer together. However, it can also cause hurt as flippant comments are made. Tension can set in if a set of parents begins to give more attention to the siblings with grandkids and unspoken frustrations can build. A couple now have to learn to communicate their emotions gently and one can only hope its well received.



So how do we flip the script? How do we stop the stigma of silence that surround it? I think

  1. Share your story. YES! It’s vulnerable. It’s scary. But it helps break the silence so that someone else can say “me too”. (In fact, that’s what my whole What’s It Like series is aimed to do!
  2. Stop putting words into someone else’s mouth and start asking questions. In order for any relationship to survive infertility we have to start empathizing and asking how we can support them during the struggle.
  3. Advocate for yourself. Speak up at your doctor’s office. Talk to your Human Resources department about insurance plans. Call your state representative. Get involved in Advocacy Day.
  4. Temporarily change your Facebook banner or image to one of these! Get the conversation going. Or start using #NIAW on posts and lets get this topic trending!
  5. For those not struggling with infertility, read up on my conversation guide post here on Fertility Bridge for some conversation tips!

What are some other ways you can start talking about infertility and breaking the stigma? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Together we CAN make a difference. No one should have to suffer alone.

what its like: to have a micro preemie.

I remember the day vividly, the day I found out my friend Holly was giving birth to her son Madden at 26 weeks. Our Instagram community rallied around her and her family, sending encouragement and praying harder than we would imagine praying for someone most of us had never met in person. I am just so thankful for Holly’s willingness to share her story with us today, about what it’s like to have a micro-preemie, a term used micro preemie is a baby who is born weighing at or less than 1 pound, 12 ounces or 26 weeks gestation.

Holly, thank you for sharing your story with us and know how grateful we are to see sweet Madden flourishing today.

They rolled me in a wheelchair into the NICU to get a glimpse of our tiny fighter. I had seen incubators on TV, but never in person before.  A mom sees me in the hall and notices me in my hospital gown and wheelchair and says, “it will get better.” I never saw her but I held on to her words.

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They had warned me days before he was born all the things that could go wrong, medical words I’ve never heard. Horrible sounding words, Cerebral Palsy, Brain bleeds, ventilators, blood transfusions, surfactant, NEC. Then the odds. They told me that due to inter-uterine growth restriction, my 26 weeker boy, who had a very ill mother, had 60% chance of survival. They told me this as the magnesium sulfate pour through my veins to keep us both alive. He had to live, he had to beat these odds. He was a miracle to us before he came fighting into this world at a whopping 1 pound, 12 ounces. We had loved him since he was a tiny frozen embryo. I remember when he was born.  It was not the happy moment we had all envisioned. It was a very critical emergency, very late at night when the call was made that I could die by morning if they continued to keep me pregnant. I cried when they told me I’d have to deliver.


I got a glimpse of my tiny baby, who resembled a baby bird more than he did a baby. He was so small. They told me he had cried but it sounded almost like a kitten. He was whisked away, intubated and given surfactant for his lungs. He was put in an incubator where he would spend the next few months, truly fighting, growing and amazing all of us.

The next few months would be the rollercoaster we were promised. Some days I truly felt the staff didn’t know if we would take him home. Yet slowly, Madden grew bigger, was weaned of the ventilator, feeding tube, and oxygen. He fought serious infections such as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). He had multiple blood transfusions. He’d come off the ventilator only to need it again and again.

What nobody told me about having a micro preemie was the NICU nurses and doctor will become your family and best support. They will pray with you and weep with you. They will lift you up when you are weak. They are truly angels on earth nurturing these helpless small babies.

They never tell you that when you bring your baby home you won’t need to read any books or manuals that you will know your child backwards and forwards from your extremely long stay (117 days for us!) and they will even come on a schedule.

That every ounce and pound will be celebrated. We even celebrated maddens 100th day of life, even with a full beard of cotton and cane! We made the best memories in that NICU room.


They say the beeping will haunt you, but to me that sound will always be his heart and lungs were still working against all odds.


My son is now a very normal healthy 3 year old. He wears glasses, is small for his age , and has asthma but all things may be attributed to his prematurity or hereditary. He may outgrow these issues as well. He has a spirit as big as life and watching this miracle every day is not lost on us.


The best advice I’d give to a new micro preemie mom is to never give up on your baby. Be there as much as possible to do skin to skin, sing, and advocate for your baby. Sometimes all I could do was hold his hand. I think that may have made all the difference.

It’s truly the most amazing thing I hope you never have to see.


Holly is from Ohio, is a full-time working mom doing tactical operations in a large bank, and proudly is the mother to her son Madden who was her IVF and micropreemie miracle boy. You can connect with her on Instagram at @m_is_for_miracle. 

PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cyclesraise a child with special needsuse an egg donorbe a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse,  Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriagesuffer with endometriosis. experience depression, and start a company. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

april crushes.



Spring has FINALLY come to Minnesota! As I write this, this time last week we got 21 inches of snow. GULP. But today the sun is shining and I am giddy about the promise of warmer weather coming our way. Sit back and enjoy all of my April Crushes!

  1. Starbucks Cold Foam Cascara Cold Brew: My local Starbucks crew knew I would love this and gave me a sneak peek at their new cold foam last week and OH MY GOSH IS IT AMAZING. The cold foam is frothed cold instead of hot and creates the smoothest, creamiest texture ever. Bonus, you can get the cold foam on ANY drink. Just be warned if it’s a cold drink, they will serve it in a special strawless lid so you can enjoy the cold foam fully. Try it, it’s delicious. (My fave is either the iced cappuccino or the cold brew.)
  2. Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus: I recently started this devotional (by Proverbs 31 Ministries) and LOVE IT. It’s s imple but meaty, has a reflection question or two and a few short lines to engage. Totally Bible-centered and totally doable for a busy mom. This would make an AWESOME Mother’s Day gift for someone or a special investment in yourself! For those not quite in the motherhood season yet, I highly recommend Encouragement for Todaywhich is a similar book for women in any season of life.
  3. Absolute New York Nano Eyeliner: I love liquid liners, but don’t love how thick they can be, especially for daytime wear. I LOVE this eyeliner because its ULTRA-THIN which means I get to control how it goes on. It’s super easy to apply seamlessly and stays put all day. Even better, it’s only $8.
  4. Ipsy: Every year for my birthday, my mom gets me another year subscription to Ipsy. My mom and sister also have a subscription and every month, we get together and go around in a circle and open our bags together. What’s Ipsy? Well, its a subscription service where for $10 a month (less if you prepay a year), you get 5 travel or full size beauty products to try. You can review them online afterwards for extra points and get freebies from your points. It’s been one way I have found some of my favorite hair, nail, and beauty products. It’s super fun and a great way to try new things and also, pamper yourself or a friend a bit! Use my link above if you sign up and then pass along your own referral link to get some bonus points!
  5. This Creamy Chicken Basil Thighs recipe: This is a low carb dream! Josh and I ate it the other night and he said he was trying to decide if he wanted to eat it faster and continue to burn his mouth, or wait a little longer. He burnt his mouth haha! It is rich however, served over some streamed broccoli or zucchini noodles really cuts it down. SO GOOD and SO easy!
  • 2-3 Pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs or chicken breasts
  • 1 8 ounce Block of Cream Cheese softened
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese (think the green can kind)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon mineral salt (or kosher salt)
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Chopped Basil lightly packed (our store was sold out, so I did the basil in a tube kind and it was perfect. Equal amount to fresh)
  • Garlic Powder to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp)
  1. Season chicken on both sides with garlic powder. We used chicken thigh because they were on sale and we love them!
  2. In a dutch oven or oven-safe skillet, brown chicken with a small amount of oil. Don’t worry about cooking it through, just get a little golden color on each side! Don’t over crowd the pan, do 2 batches if you need to. Think 2-3 minutes per side while the pan is on high.
  3. After the thighs come out, drain off an remaining oil and then in the same pot, melt softened cream cheese and butter. Whisk with a whisk until smooth.
  4. Add chicken broth, whipping cream, Parmesan, and salt to cream cheese mixture. Add chopped fresh basil to sauce and stir until combined.
  5. Add the chicken back to the sauce pan and throw in a 400 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes.
  6. When done, enjoy! Always check your chicken is at least 165 degrees.

Optional – if you would rather do this all on the stove, simply fully cook your chicken first before making the sauce.

Now, here are the kiddos favorite things this month! (11 month olds)

  1. Indestructibles books: We love to read books. And we also love to chew, rip, and gnaw on books. These books are super reasonable (a bunch are under $5) and completely 100 percent baby-proof, chew-proof, rip-proof, and drool-proof. They can be wiped down, thrown in the dishwasher or washing machine and chewed on and won’t be damaged! We love them! I linked this to the Baby Faces one, as the kids think this one is funny (I have no idea why, but whenever I say stinky on one of the pages, they laugh. How do they know what stinky means already!?) But we have about 5-6 of them and they all are SO cute.
  2. Gund Baby Noah’s Ark: The kids got this to share for Easter and love it! We have so much fun opening the ark and pulling out 5 different animals. It’s great because each of the animals “does” something (crinkle, squeak, make a sound) and then we put them all back in and close the door … and then open the door and do it all over again. They are soft and it’s great for working on coordination!
  3. Dry Scalp Brush and Comb:Logan gets a dry scalp from time to time and I am so glad I was introduced to this bush and comb set. It’s a couple of bucks and when I wash his hair in the tub, I gently massage his scalp with the brush side and then after I rinse his hair, I use the comb side. He doesn’t mind whatsoever and it has really helped!

And now, time for some FUNNIES! Have a great weekend friends!


This post contains affiliate links which provide me with a small commission when you make a purchase through those links. The profits go to the support of my family and this blog. Thank you!

what it’s like to start a company.

If there is ever a couple that is slaying in launching a company, its my friends (and bosses!) Deborah and Jake. They started FertilityIQ a handful of years ago and truly are two of the hardest working people I know. I am excited to have Deborah sharing with us today what it’s like to start a company! This woman is ROCKING the mom, wife, co-founder thing like a champ. I admire her heart for the infertility community and her brains to make all of this spin. Enjoy reading what it’s like to start a company! Thanks for sharing Deb … especially with a newborn at home!

Terrifying, exciting, tiring, fulfilling. There are a lot of conflicting words that come to mind when someone asks me what it’s like to start a company.

I think back to the very beginning of when my husband Jake and I decided to start our company, FertilityIQ. We were fired up—we felt like there was a problem that had to be fixed ASAP, and knew it wouldn’t happen on its own.


We were in between fertility doctors, and in the midst of trying to find our third doctor. I’ll never forget our last call with our doctor – it was meant to be a 15 minute phone discussion about my recent miscarriages. He hadn’t read my updated chart (though I had confirmed it was received by his office at least 3 times), but with no information in front of him he confidently declared “if you keep trying to get pregnant on your own you’re going to have 10 more miscarriages.” The call lasted all of 4 minutes, but I still saw the $350 charge come though on my credit card.

We were desperate for better information ourselves, and to help other patients in our shoes avoid infuriating and depressing interactions like this in the future. While we had talked about starting FertilityIQ for months before, that was the very moment that pushed us over the edge to start it.

At that moment we felt so passionate about changing the state of fertility care we promised not to let anything stand in our way. In the next few months we saw a lot of late nights and early mornings. In this phase of imagining and starting a company, we needed to be creative in thinking of how we would tackle the problems we wanted to solve, work hard to narrow the funnel of ideas and focus, then execute.

In starting a business, it immediately becomes obvious that nothing happens on its own. And doing the stuff is usually not glamorous. At all.


In those early months, we decided the first problem we wanted to work on was how people researched and selected their fertility doctor. But we had only lived our unique set of experiences, and we wanted to build something that could help all fertility patients. And it’s not exactly like we had a pre-existing mental registry of everyone we knew who needed fertility treatments. So this left us to the incredibly awkward task of reaching out to just about everyone we’ve ever met and… asking if they had done fertility treatments. Or if their sister had. Or any of their friends. And talking to every single person who would make the time so we could understand the details of treatment for someone who had used donor sperm, or who froze eggs before cancer treatment, or who lived in a different geography, or who was working with a different budget, and on and on. This is just one tiny example, but my point is, every small step forward means you’ve probably logged a ton of hours leading up to it.

Another thing that becomes glaringly apparent with starting any business – I wish it wasn’t, but money is important, and it’s something you need to examine honestly. How are you going to support the business, and how are you going to support yourself? How much money can you dedicate to the business, or do you plan to bring in outside money? Just how much discomfort are you willing to tolerate?


We knew that we wanted to start FertilityIQ with our own money, so that we would be able to set the vision for the company independently. And, while we do think of it as a company that will one day sustain itself financially, we’ve made the decision to be very (very, very) patient with our approach. Which means it’s been a whopping 3 years since we’ve seen a salary (and I sometimes reminisce about what it was like when money just magically showed up every two weeks in our checking account). We planned for that and were willing to accept the tradeoffs going in, but just know that #entrepreneurlife isn’t as glamorous as Instagram can make it seem.


But, there are also serious upsides. First off, I’m working on something I’m passionate about and believe in 100%, and there’s really no substitute for that. Starting and running FertilityIQ has been fulfilling in a way that’s hard to describe, because I’m constantly hearing from people who are using the products we’ve worked so hard on who feel like their lives are positively impacted. (Don’t get me wrong – we hear negative feedback too, but one thing I had to learn very early on as a founder was not to let the haters get the best of me. If there are kernels of constructive negative feedback, I certainly take time to absorb that, but I try very hard not to absorb incoming anger. Good news is, this is very rare!)

Baby on set (1)

Another positive that’s important to me is that I have more control over my schedule than I otherwise might at a regular job. This doesn’t mean I’m taking it easy or racking up lots of vacation time (I wish – it’s actually the complete opposite!). But it does mean that I got to choose to locate our offices close to where I live, and close to where our kids play during the day – so my “coffee” breaks can actually be quality time I spend with the babies. And they’ve come along for the ride on more than their share of work trips.

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So, is starting a company easy? Absolutely not. Nothing is guaranteed, and nothing happens on its own without a lot of thought and hard work. But building something I’m proud of has been an adventure that’s been more than worth it!


Deborah is the co-founder of FertilityIQ along with her husband Jake. She’s the proud mama of Lazer (2) and Yara (4 weeks!). Deborah lives in San Francisco where she can usually be found hiking and eating her way through farmers markets. You can check out her website at www.fertilitiq.com, on Facebook, and connect with her on instagram at @fertilityiq.

PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cycles, raise a child with special needs, use an egg donor, be a DIY-er and home style bloggerbe a NICU nurse,  Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriagesuffer with endometriosis and experience depression. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

what it’s like to experience depression.

Today’s “What It’s Like” post is vulnerable, relate-able and so important. It’s about what it’s like to struggle with depression. A word we hear often but still look away from, a word that needs to have the stigma about it broken. I am so thankful for my friend Ashley Morgan Jackson for sharing her experience with depression today and encourage you to reach out for help and support if this is something you struggle with. Thank you Ashley for sharing.

Here’s what its like to experience depression. 

I watched as my husband closed the door to our bedroom for the night, I hated to admit it to myself, but it was the best part of my day. It felt like relief. He would be taking care of our newborn all night and allowing me to sleep. He would then get up and go to work the next day and I would do my best to not feel worthless and care for our baby all day.


The guilt alone could crush anyone. The voices in my head never stopped, “What kind of mother are you? What kind of wife? You are horrible at this! You are such a failure! What a joke! A lot of good all those verses are doing you now!” Like an inner committee of voices sent to mock me relentlessly, but they all sounded just like me.

I had no idea what was wrong with me, why I felt like this. I felt desperately tired, sad, irritable and sometimes, just crazy. I boiled it all down to the fact that I just wasn’t cut out to be a mother, that was certainly what the evidence pointed to. Mothers were tired, they sucked it up and got on with life. Having a baby was hard, why was I being such a whiner! Suck it up, Ashley!

With every portion of strength, I could muster I would gather him up with all his baby belongings and drive myself over to my parents. I wanted to scream, “help me! Take him, hold him! I can’t do this. I’m scared, someone save me!” But instead I would act normal and feel somewhat like a zombie, going through the motions, but inwardly everything was screaming for relief. Instead of asking for help I became bitter and resentful no one would help me, bitter that I couldn’t pull myself up by the bootstraps and get on with it.

What I didn’t realize was that I was in full fledged postpartum depression. I had no tools to recognize it and didn’t seek help until almost 2 years later. What I didn’t know was that yes, motherhood was hard, but what I was experiencing in my body made it impossible. The extremes of my emotions were out of control, I began having anxiety attacks in public, I started believing my family would be better off without me.


Anger presided over my life because all I did was talk in mean and demeaning ways to myself and then lableled them other people’s thoughts. What I wanted was to be saved from this. It felt as though I was drowning but everyone around me simply swam by and waved. The problem was they didn’t know how bad it was, because I was always able to wave back.

Depression isn’t like a broken leg, where everyone can see what it is that causes you the issue. You can move along in life in a perceived as “normal” fashion because birthdays and vacations and holidays are still happening. You feel dead inside, but you have to keep on living. It’s scary and lonely and isolating and as a Christian, I didn’t understand why all my knowledge and Bible verses weren’t working.


I just wanted to get back to what I knew, get back into church, just serve like I always had. I was lost and afraid and I wanted someone to tell me I was OK, I was valuable, I was worth something. That place had always been church for me. But no matter how hard I tried to serve and pour out and connect, it was like wringing a rock. I had nothing to give because I was refusing to receive. I believed to receive I had to earn it and that was now impossible for me.

Years later, as the depression clung to me, and had become my new identity, I sent a text to my family crying out for help. It was dripping with anger, bitterness, pain and self-loathing, I thought it was a cry for help. I sent it to my parents, all my siblings and all their spouses, ten in all, and not one person responded to me. My soul was crushed, my anger and hurt intermingled raged “well maybe they will care at my funeral!”

But as I reeled from that experience God broke through it all and whispered to me in my spirit, “Ash, they can’t save you and I will no longer let them try. I am your Savior from more than just hell. Let me be your Savior from this as well.” From the “good Christian girl” with all the answers, helping those poor people that needed saving, I realized, I was that person. I was the one that desperately needed saving and I did not have any strength, good enough answers or solutions, just my mess, and that was all He wanted.

He taught me that I didn’t have to take this anymore, and the first thing I had to do was take my thoughts captive. If He wouldn’t say it about me, I wasn’t allowed to think it about me. When you become aware of how mean you have been to yourself and how often you think awful thoughts about yourself and others, it’s an uphill climb for sure.

It didn’t become better over night. With His help I learned to fight and clawed my way out of years of lies I lived with. To be honest the struggle had defined me for so long and brought me comfort somehow and to let go of it was to let God redefine me. That felt scary and risky, but He likes to ask, “Do you want to get well?”, and after a lot of fighting, I decided, I did.

Through medication, counseling, and learning to believe truth the Lord brought me out of that season. For me, it was more than just depression and anxiety, it was God’s way of teaching me grace and the power of who He really is. Not a cute churchy version of Him that I kept in a nice orderly box that I defined, but the God who gets down into your muck with you and says, “I love you, let’s get out of here.”


Ashley Morgan Jackson is a wife, mother, and warrior of the Spirit. Her greatest passion is to see women fall more in love with Jesus, His Word and let Him change them until it encompasses every aspect of their lives. When she’s not sharing devotions on Instagram you might find her lifting weights, drinking (another) cup of coffee, having a dance party with her family, or listening to podcasts while she cleans her house. 

You can connect with Ashley online at her blog, AshleymorganJackson.com, on Instagram at @ashley.morgan.jackson, on Twitter @ashleyMJackson, and on Facebook.

PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cycles, raise a child with special needs, use an egg donor, be a DIY-er and home style bloggerbe a NICU nurse,  Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriage and  suffer with endometriosis. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!


pexels-photo-64775.jpegI’m dabbling. In everything. Barely entering into life outside motherhood and when I do, I feel scattered and unsteady. The world around me has shifted so significantly. I stumble into each day with utter delight, bursting at the ability to be a mom one more day. We go through our routines. Diapers. Giggles. Bottles. Playtime. Breakfast. Naps. My hours are like a giant groundhogs day and I adore it. I know what to expect for the most part. When the end of the day comes and the last kiss has been given, prayers have been said, and Josh and I stumble into the kitchen to start dinner, we are exhausted. Full hearts, but utterly wiped.

Tomorrow I do it all over again. And throughout the days, I get little reminders of the life I used to have. Texts from friends asking when we can grab coffee or lunch. Work emails building up, reminding me that I need to hustle during both naps today to catch up. A heart that is screaming to get words onto a computer screen. A desire to sit and have quiet time, pouring into the Scriptures and being fed by a book that craves to be underlined and marked up. Birthday cards that need to be sent, personal emails that need to be returned, family to connect with, and what ever happened to my friends … the list goes on and on and on.

This same list pops into my head at about 9:30 at night, when I am tucked away in bed and trying to fall asleep. Shoot, I never texted her back. Darn, I forgot I wanted to read that chapter today. Gah, I really need to get that article written. Urph, I need to return that phone call. 

The other night the list of non-mom stuff made me feel like I needed to take a giant time-out from life and sneak away to a hotel to have a full week of productivity. One day I could schedule back to back to back coffees and phone dates – reconnect with my people. Another day I could sit in silence, then listen to worship music and pour over the Word. Another day I could sit in a coffee shop and write and write and write. Maybe even start that next book that has been brewing in my heart. Another day I could catch up on work stuff, feeling like I am on top of things. I. Just. Need. Time. (Don’t even get me started on the baby books that never got done, errrr, started, or the first birthday party that needs to be planned. I sent invitations, now what!?)

And here’s the thing I am realizing – that time isn’t going to happen. I can’t sneak off without sacrificing time with my kids and while that’s totally okay to do, my dream of a week away to play catch up is only going to pause the problem, not solve it. And so here I sit, wondering how in the world do I balance all the parts of me that are trying to find a place in this new world I am living in.

I have no answers. But I know I am probably not alone.

Being a stay-at-home mom is amazing and exhausting, euphoric and tedious. The days mainly look the same, partially because my kids do wonderful on a schedule, which means we don’t venture out too much. But I miss my people, my tribe too. We shuffle to MOPS and BSF, grateful for both, but missing my 1:1 time with people. I used to have time to have lengthy conversations with friends, or text talk, or 3 hours coffee dates, and now, well, when a free minute comes my way, I am either working, cleaning, or trying to prepare for the next session of the day. My social life is quieter than ever before. I weigh commitments with a brutally small scope of tolerance. Gone are the “yes’s” to make someone happy.

I love working too. It stimulates my brain and I am thankful for a job with FertilityIQ that allows me to work during nap times, and doesn’t require me to take time away from being a mom. I like checking things off a list and feeling like I got something results-focused done.

Finding my new rhythm is messier than I thought it would be. It’s disorienting. I am utterly fulfilled with motherhood and completely thrown off my tracks at what makes me who I am. I can barely find the time to return a phone call to the people I care about deeply. Going out after the kids go to sleep sounds fun in theory until 7 pm hits and I am cross-eyed. I see pictures of mom’s doing stuff online and I wonder HOW they do it? I am still in the season where sacrificing sleep doesn’t seem realistic.

I’m learning about priorities but even then, some of my inner circle priorities are taking a hit. And so, I stumble on, admiring the mom’s who have their nails painted and their play dates mapped out and their blogging calendar planned. I wish someone could tell me how to figure it all out.

So, here’s to the women who are spinning around like me. The women who get their hair cut twice a year because there just isn’t enough time in the day. The women who feel like they are failing their friendships because they forget to reply, or follow through on that promise for coffee. The women who didn’t get out of sweat pants for 3 days in a row. The women who peppered her children with kisses while singing worship songs to the radio because that’s the only quiet time she’s going to get today. The women who fall into bed like a heap and the women who feel like they are being swallowed by to-do’s.

The only thing that’s holding me stable right now is reminding myself that my days aren’t a surprise to God. He sees the in’s and out’s and is with me through it all. I know I need to get better at surrounding myself with balance. Right now I just need to admit I can’t do it all and if you are feeling the same, you aren’t alone.

God is faithful to pick us back up when we are exhausted or overwhelmed. I keep seeing the pattern in scripture of how He cares for His children – He typically provides them sleep/rest, food, a sign of who He is, and provides them with someone to do life with.

But for now, this momma has no clue how to balance her life. I don’t want to miss a moment of their little lives, yet I have no idea how to fit in everything that keeps me sane, flourishing, and mentally healthy. If you have any advice or guidance, I would love to hear it! Until then, know I’m grateful to have giggling children who know they’re loved and if that’s all I accomplish today, I am totally okay with that.

And all of this said, I would rather dabble and feel a little wobbly a hundred times over than not be in these shoes. These precious shoes of motherhood are the greatest gift in the world. If you are still in the wait, please hear me when I say I know you would give anything to feel disoriented from motherhood. I wish that for you too. Keep the faith that if the desire is still burning in your heart, God is not done working yet. Much love.


being silly before bedtime … can you tell who my non-stop mover is?! :)

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11 months!

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Darling Kirsten Joy, you are our everything. Your smile is the best thing in our day and your giggle makes us melt like a puddle. You love to clap. You clap when your brother sneezes, when Cali barks, and when Mom gives you lunch. You especially love to clap for yourself and I adore the confidence you have in who you are. I hope that never changes. You are crawling like crazy this month, bravely trying new thing and enjoying watching your brother investigate everything. You wake up in the morning with the biggest smile and whenever I lift the shades and say “Thank you Jesus for giving us another day!” you squeal a song of worship. You sing constantly, don’t like when your brother touches you without your initiation, and will gobble down whatever is on your plate. You are sweet and sassy and full of spice. You are our precious Baby K, our Honey Bear, our Sissy, our answer to prayer.

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Mister Logan Adam, our little adventurer. You nearly never stop and when you do, it’s only to cuddle or read a book with dad. You love to learn new things, observing first then diving in 110%. You will keep trying something until you figure it out. You are curious, single-sighted and full of determination. You love to be thrilled and your dad is the perfect match for you. Racing around on a car, twirling on a blanket, being thrown in the air …. you squeal and concentrate and laugh, quite proud of your dare-deviled behavior. You crawl everywhere, visiting me in the kitchen when I’m cooking you a meal, stopping by Cali’s dishes to see if anything is down for you to splash in, and do your best to find something new to look at. Your grin shivers through your whole body and you scrunch up your face with delight. We swoon every time. Your joy gives us joy. You love to be tickled under your chin and throw your head back as an offering. You are 100% boy and we adore our life with you. You are our Bog-Man, our Boggie, our Logster and the reason our hearts beat.

What It’s Like to Suffer With Endometriosis.

Oh, where can I start with today’s post? First of all, let’s talk about the author, my friend Ashley Tramm. This girl has been such a blessing to my life! Not only does she live just a town over, but she has blessed our family with so much over the course of our friendship. Meals to the door, coffee dates, baby shower celebrations … she’s SUCH a gift to me. And I am so thankful for her opening up today on our What’s It’s Like series to share her experience with an endometriosis diagnosis. I know many of those reading can relate and I know her story will encourage you, and also, if you can’t relate, help you understand this disease a little better. Ashley, thank you for sharing!

And now, sit back and read What It’s Like to Suffer With Endometriosis. 

“Tubes are clear, I don’t think you have endometriosis. Why don’t we try clomid?” said  Dr. Let’s Try Throwing Something At Wall and See if it Sticks.  Frustration welled in my throat and the tears began to stream. “It’s OK, just go to Target and look at all the misbehaving kids and just enjoy walking the aisles of Target alone.” Yes, those were the exact words from my OBGYN. Her bedside manner was truly impeccable.

Finally, as a thirty-two year old, we are a family of three. We tried for nearly four years before we had our miracle girl, Madeline Elizabeth in our arms. Our journey has been laden with trials, suffering, longing, hoping and praying, and by God’s good grace we now have our precious daughter.


I will share a sliver of our journey, but I will primarily focus on what it is like to live with endometriosis (endo). It’s a disease that is not frequently talked about, yet 1 in 10 women in the United States are living with this fire inside of them. And not a energetic, go get-em fire. Worldwide, 176 million women are dealing with this disease that affects daily life. Those are staggering numbers, and in 2018, there is still no cure.

According to the Endometriosis Foundation symptoms of endo include:

But really, the Endo Foundation didn’t need to tell me this. Most of the above are part of my daily life, especially around that time of the month. In our story, my endometriosis included years of infertility.

Just for reference, the clomid that Dr. Impeccable Bedside Manner prescribed didn’t work. I found a new doctor. I explained our journey, years of trying and no baby, my HSG came back and my tubes were clear, so I can’t have endometriosis, can I? She advised to undergo a laparoscopy. That really is the only tried and true way to determine and diagnose endo.

So five belly scars later, I slowly woke from my anesthesia. She determined that I did indeed have a horrible case of endometriosis that had spidered all over my reproductive organs and bowels. She advised another removal surgery in six months, and recommended Lupron, a monthly shot that would put me into pseudo-menopause. Which basically means that the option to continue trying for a baby was off the table.

I was hopeful, but heavy-hearted. I was thankful for a diagnosis that seemed to take one to many years. It felt freeing in one sense to finally know the underlying cause of my infertility, as well as a reason for the pain that I had been dealing with since middle school.

So what exactly is endometriosis?

Basically in broken-down terms, the tissue from inside your uterus grows outside the uterus, and when the hormones are released upon your menstrual cycle, the tissue sheds, but it has nowhere to go. Thus creating a web of scar tissue and essentially one big fat mess. There has been evidence of uterine tissue in the lungs and brains of some women. It can grow outside the fallopian tubes causing blockage (that is why the first doc thought I didn’t have endo due to my tubes being clear). It can also grow around the ovaries causing damage to the eggs. It is the disease of nightmares for women desiring to grow a family, and we haven’t even touched on the knife-daggering pain that it causes.

Back in the doctor’s office for my post-op appointment, I waited on the first shot of Lupron. I called my husband frantically, and said “I can’t do it. Can we get a second opinion?” The nurse came in with the “menopause on a tray”, and I kindly declined the shot and said I would have to come back at a later time. It felt as if I would be putting our journey towards a baby on a major halt if I went through with it.

I ended up Googling and researching the top doctors in Minnesota for dealing with endometriosis. He sat with my husband for over an hour discussing the disease and all possible options. He recommended skipping the Lupron and heading straight into an excision surgery. One month later, I was under the knife again, but this time in the hands of a trusted and compassionate expert.

After that surgery, my pain nearly dissipated. My periods were lighter, and more manageable. I felt confident in the next leg of our journey towards pregnancy.

My number one takeaway through this experience is that if you suspect that you have endometriosis, and your doctor advises a laparoscopy to diagnose, find an endometriosis specialist to do your surgery first. I underwent my first lap, and there was no tissue removed, and it was an expensive and painful surgery, and then I had to undergo another invasive surgery right away. Most regular OBGYNs don’t have the expertise to truly excise the endo. Do your research and find the best darn specialist in your area.

While there is no cure, several things have helped manage my endo:

  • Acupuncture – my insurance covered the procedures due to my diagnosis
  • Diet – A diet free of caffeine, red meat, deep-fried can alleviate flare-ups (Umm this is really hard, and I will admit that I still need my coffee)
  • Exercise – Help with pain and bloating
  • Community – supportive family and friends are crucial when dealing

I must remain hopeful that a cure will be found to help millions of women suffering.  Life with endometriosis is a roller coaster, but finding a network of support is key. For all the women out there who may be suffering, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I am more than happy to be a resource!

Helpful Resources

  1. https://www.endofound.org/endometriosis

IMG_2214 (1)Ashley Tramm is the joyful mother of one year old Madeline Elizabeth and wife of Matt. They reside in St. Paul, Minn. Ashley worked as a reporter, and most recently a content marketer, but is now home with her daughter, but does freelance marketing on the side. She loves connecting with mamas, exploring the Twin Cities, and DIY home projects. She would love to connect over the web about any topics related to endo, infertility, or new mama questions at ashleytramm@gmail.com. You can connect with Ashley on Instagram as well at @ashtram

PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cycles, raise a child with special needs, use an egg donor, be a DIY-er and home style bloggerbe a NICU nurse, and Live Fully in Singleness While Still Hoping for Marriage! And stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

What It’s Like To: Live Fully in Singleness While Still Hoping for Marriage

Today’s “What It’s Like” post resonates deeply with me, as I have walked through and continue to walk through, seasons of life with girlfriends who are waiting for “The One”. My dear friend Katie Hilbert beautifully shares her heart in today’s post, What It’s Like To: Live Fully in Singleness While Still Hoping for Marriage, and helps me better empathize and pray for those girlfriends in my life in similar shoes. Katie, thank you for being open and vulnerable. I can’t wait to see how God’s story continues. If you are in ANY waiting season, you are going to find her words incredibly inspiring. 

And now, enjoy What It’s Like To: Live Fully in Singleness While Still Hoping for Marriage.


A few weeks ago, I sat across from a friend at my little dining room table, coffees in hand (of course), talking about life, faith, callings, and building God’s Kingdom from wherever we are. At one point in our conversation, my friend looked at me and said she thought I was living a wonderful and full life for the Lord. She saw God’s work in all I was doing. And she celebrated where I was and the opportunities He had given me.

Her words meant so much to me, because sometimes, as a single woman, one of the greatest challenges I face is devaluing where I’m at in life and what God is doing in and through me. I haven’t hit the major milestones our culture puts so much emphasis on – milestones I long for — like getting married and having kids — and so it’s easy to compare what God is doing in my life to others’ lives and feel both left behind and lacking purpose.

But I am realizing that no one season or calling has more value than another when our hearts are focused on making much of this life for Him. We all have the same call to know Him and build His Kingdom, and realizing that has been bringing me so much freedom.

I’ve also realized that I can both make the most of my singleness and also still hope and pray for marriage. The two are not mutually exclusive. I don’t have to suppress my hopes and dreams for marriage, or be embarrassed by them. And I also don’t have to hinge my life around them.

God’s goodness and character are not dependent upon whether or not He brings me a husband or blesses me with the opportunity to build a family of my own. He is good in my singleness, and if I get married, He will be good then, too.

I love this quote Joy Beth Smith shared in her book Party of One:

“It is a cosmic impossibility for God to shortchange any of His children…I am not single because I am too unstable to possibly deserve a husband, nor because I am too spiritually mature to possibly need one. I am single because God is so abundantly good to me, because this is His best for me (Paige Benton Brown).”

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As I’ve begun to embrace my purpose here and now in my singleness, recognizing that it is God’s best for me today, I’ve started to feel more freedom and purpose in doing the things He’s called me to do right where I am. Things like creating greeting cards, serving and discipling at an amazing church, growing in my spiritual gifts of teaching and encouragement, and building meaningful relationships with a community of truly wonderful people.

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He’s also been teaching me not to wait for “someday,” helping me to see and celebrate the goodness of today. I’ve painted one of my walls blush pink (and created an incredibly girly living room), collected an array of colorful Fiesta dishes (my version of “fine china”), and even started little traditions that make me smile like “frozen-pizza Fridays.”

But this embracing of the present with expectant hope for the future has been and will continue to be an on-going process of surrender.

There are certainly days I feel sick of being single and wonder if it’s even possible that there could be someone out there for me. I’ve trusted in myself more times than I can count and felt the weight of striving, discouragement, and disappointment as I’ve navigated the crazy world of dating (both online and off).

It’s hard to surrender our greatest hopes and desires, trusting that the God who both sees and provides will indeed see us and provide for us in the ways and timing He knows is best.

I love the way Joy Beth Smith captures this complex mix of emotions in Party of One:

“If you’re single, you’re called to be single today, and I will grieve and celebrate that calling with you. We must embrace it. But that doesn’t mean our hearts won’t want more. Own that pain and heartache. Don’t deny it. Don’t push it aside. Sit in it. And then, when you’re able, look up. Find God in the longing.”

In all my wrestling and weariness, in all of my longing, I have found Him again and again, and I’ve watched Him make me both stronger and more dependent on Him. Even when my singleness is hard and heartbreaking, I know God is growing me, being kind to me, and revealing Himself to me in new ways.

In her book Daring to Hope, Katie Davis Majors writes: “Maybe the hardest things make us the best kind of brave and the best kind of ready for all that God has next.”

I’m finding this to be true, little by little. I’m learning that where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going are all opportunities graciously given to know Him more and bring Him glory.

Yes, my life has unfolded in ways I never expected, and yes, my life may not fit culture’s typical “timeline,” but He has shown Himself to be faithful, time and time again.

And I have hope that He’s not done yet. That there’s more to the story than what I can see from where I stand right now.


So, with eyes fixed on Him, I won’t give up hope for marriage, but I won’t miss today either.

Because like Katie Davis Majors also wrote in Daring to Hope, “there is beauty to be found in a life poured out in faithfulness and obedience, no matter the circumstance.”

Single or married, I will continue to pour out my life before Him, being faithful right where I am, while daring to be hopeful for where He might take me from here.

Katie is a Kingdom-building writer, editor, and blogger. She’s almost always reading at least one book (and more often than not two or three). She’s also pretty sure lattes are her love language. You can connect with Katie on her blog www.aplacetodwell.com and on Instagram at @aplacetodwell.

PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cycles, raise a child with special needs, use an egg donor, be a DIY-er and home style blogger and be a NICU nurse! And stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

what it’s like to: be a nicu nurse.

Today’s “What It’s Like” post hits me in all the feels, as Kirsten and Logan both spent time in the NICU, with incredible nurses caring for them. While our author today wasn’t one of their nurses, I can’t help but wish Jette had had the chance to care for them. Her caring heart and gentleness seep from her words and I hope you join me in praying for her and her husband as they wait to add a baby of their own to their family.

Enjoy reading this feature, what it’s like to be a NICU nurse!

* the story included is fictional, an amalgamation of various interactions over the years and not reflective of a single patient story. All patient confidentiality has been protected.

I walk into work and see her* sitting quietly at her baby’s bedside. As I carefully clean my fingernails, scrubbing like a surgeon in preparation for my time at work, I watch her carefully touch her baby. Maybe they are in an isolette, protected from the world- sights, sounds, smells and temperature controlled precisely. She watches the monitor hanging above the bed, telling us all about her baby’s heartbeat, breathing, and oxygen saturations. The ventilator hums, and when it makes a sudden sound, mama jumps expectantly, looking around to make sure she is okay. This is definitely not what she planned for her sweet babe.


As I get report from your dayshift nurse, I hear her story for the first time in clinical terms and start to translate. A G3P0 delivered for pre-eclampsia, received betamethasone, magnesium sulfate, and recovering from a C-section. What this really means to me: she did everything she could to take care of her baby, to keep her inside where she was safe, but now the baby is here… two months early. She sits with vigilance at her baby’s bed, because there are two babies she’s lost before this little girl arrived.

After report, I come over and introduce myself. I tell her that my plan is to help her baby rest and grow tonight, and to provide the support she needs to oxygenate, digest and maintain her vital signs. I ask if she has any questions or requests, and she shakes her head with a small smile. I ask if you’d like to hold your baby tonight, and her eyes grow wide, half moons staring back at me in the dimmed light. “Are you sure that’s okay? Is that too much for her?” she asks.  “No, she needs to feel you and smell you. And you need her too, mama. You are the best medicine we can give her,” I reply and smile. She looks terrified.

I begin care time, taking her temperature and listening to her heart and lungs. I assess her from head to toe, though it may not look like I’m doing much… I touch her head, I watch how hard she works to breathe, assure she is perfusing her whole body with blood, feel her belly to make sure it is soft. I have mama help me, cupping her head and feet to provide boundaries- helping her to feel safe in this new space, with so much room, almost too much space. We weigh her together, and her husband comes in. He is so excited and nervous, asking protective questions like “does moving her head like that hurt her?” and “be gentle, she’s so tiny”. After close to a decade working in the NICU, I know he needs to be included, supported too- so I reassure him, explaining each step as I go, and assign him jobs as we start to prepare for the transfer from bed to mom. “Now dad, your job is to watch the breathing tube and make sure she doesn’t pull on it. Then you need to make sure mom gets lots of water, and take all the pictures you possibly can.” He looks determined, set to make sure he can do this.


She’s tiny, but not the smallest baby I’ve seen. She’s hearty to me, and I know she’ll do just fine when she’s in mama’s arms. But this is brand new to her mama and we go slow so she will feel safe. She gently holds her body in your arms, and I hold all her IV tubing, the tangled spaghetti wrapped along one arm, and her breathing tube equipment in my other hand, keeping all her lifelines intact. She slowly sits back, and I quickly work around her, straightening and securing, repositioning so the baby is chest-to-chest, heartbeat to heartbeat with her mother. I wrap a blanket over them both, dad is beaming and snapping pictures frantically over mom’s shoulder. Almost in disbelief, she looks up at me. “Is she okay?” she asks, “She is perfect. She’s settling right in. This is exactly where she wants to be. You’ve worked so hard for this, mama. Relax and enjoy your baby”, I respond. Suddenly, dad looks at me with tears in his eyes. “You have no idea how hard we’ve worked for this,” he says, and begins to share the story- the heartbreak, the loss of hope, and unexpected joy when the stick turned pink this time. He talks about the other babies, and you are both crying now. I’m holding back tears, trying to find the right words to express my understanding. “Your other babies are looking down on her now, sending all their love and protection to their sister,” I say, and we all cry now. It is such a special privilege to be a part of this moment in your life, to hold your story in my mind and heart.

Sometimes endings aren’t happy. The grief I carry for that mama, when she leaves with empty arms, is more real than she may ever know. Her cries are seared on my heart; I hear them in my sleep. Long after the tears have fallen, and I’m alone with the body that held her baby for a short time, I bathe them and tell them how loved they were. I say a silent blessing- the same one I say when babies get to go home happy and well: The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you and bring you peace. I will always hold these memories- her little one is not forgotten. It is an incredibly brutal privilege to be part of the darkest moments in someone’s life, to see the loss and experience grief alongside those who are suffering.


NICU nursing involves science and art, putting together the clinical picture when a baby isn’t “acting right” and figuring out what this little being needs when they can’t use words. I love the mystery, the uniqueness of each patient, blending years of training and experience to provide care. I partner with an incredible team of physicians, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists and many others to ensure we are caring for the whole being, seeing the big picture and the small details. Who knows how many future teachers, lawyers, mothers, and presidents I’ve cared for in my time at the bedside. Working with families is a joy as I watch them grow together and care for their baby over time. Having a baby in the NICU is scary and unexpected most of the time, and to help a family bond while in an unplanned setting is really rewarding. I know that many families won’t remember my name or what I said, but I hope they remember that I tried to make them feel welcome, at ease and comfortable being parents to their child.


At the end of my shift, I know the work that I do truly matters. I am blessed to share in these moments, and it is worth it every time, to see the miracles unfold and see each family come together. Supporting and caring for these precious babies is a gift to me, and I am so grateful to do this work.


Jette is a NICU nurse who has worked in the Midwest for 7 years. She’s done high acuity NICU transport, administration and everything in between with neonatal intensive care, and is currently in school to become a neonatal nurse practitioner. When she has a free 20 minutes between work and school, she loves hanging with her husband and cats, reading Harry Potter for the thousandth time, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. She and her husband have struggled with infertility for five years, but continue to hope and pray for their dream to come true.   You can connect with Jette on Instagram at @Jettebens.   

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