Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holding Hands *KERRY*

I don't know what it is, but I feel this immense feeling to hold Kerry's hand right now. Literally drive my ass up to Kentucky and be there along with her family to embrace her this week. I know what she is battling right now is every mothers nightmare. It's an unexplainable feeling knowing that you have done everything possible but no matter what your body isn't cooperating. It's a feeling of failure beyond words even though you know deep down in your heart it is out of your control.

I feel so connected to Kerry and I am hurting for her so deeply. She got news last night that with Josey's IUGR and her severely high blood pressure, that her fight is coming to an end.Time is running out and it’s getting unsafe to let Kerry stay pregnant. There is always that hope and glimmer of a miracle can happen. A miracle that Josey is bigger than measured, Kerry stabilizes more and we can hold out a few more weeks.


Kerry's blog just got me this morning. Something just smacked me in the face, I have been through this. It just happened faster, I had no time to think, no time to attempt to accept, no time to worry. And here I am, watching what happened to me in June, happen all over again to someone close to me. This isn't fair and I just don’t get it.

I’m not joking Kerry, I will be there in a heartbeat. I will come take sweet pictures of baby Josey in the NICU if that’s where she gets to go. I would take family pictures of you 3 if she doesn’t get to go. I would do anything to be there for you and give you everything I remember helping me. I will help walk beside you in this time of Hell.

I get it. I understand. I will hold your hand. Promise.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


“Before you were conceived I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were an hour old I would die for you. This is the miracle of life."

Gosh this is so true. I posted new pictures on my locker at work last night. I got some new ones printed and just had to add them. After looking at them, all I want to do is scoop Nolan up and hold him, squeeze him tight to my chest. He is so darn cute and it’s hard to believe that we can’t do that given the fact of how real he was.


I just miss him so much. I miss that happiness I felt when he was alive in the NICU. I miss it all. Next week I have to go to see Dr F in the office we went to for all of Nolan’s visits. I have to see the same ultrasound tech and I know it’s going to be emotionally draining. I haven't been back to that office since the last day Nolan was alive. The last time I stepped foot in there was to give the tech and secretary his blog to watch Nolan grow since they knew us so well with our every other day visits before he was born. (The office is in the hospital Nolan was born and I have been going to the other office ever since then)

Now I have to go back to the place that our nightmare happened. I’m dreading it. A year ago, I was counting down the days to our next ultrasound to find out if we were having a boy or girl. Now it’s so different. I have SO much anxiety stepping foot in the place I left empty handed.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Look what I have now! Do you have a blog button? Add a comment below if you do!!

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Kerry & Baby Josey prayers

I really don't even know where to start or what to say. My cousin Kerry is living her personal nightmare and is holding on to any hope she has left that a miracle can happen. I just don't understand how this can happen twice in one family. Shoot, I have yet to figure out how it happens to anyone. It's a cruel reality that your world can come crashing down in a matter of no time. It just feels like I am reliving this all over again, I am walking beside her. People like you guys were there for me, I will be there for her.
Please go over and send her prayers, she needs a lot of them right now.


Also if your had a personal account with NILMDTS, please email me.

And as you can see, I have a new look. The blog went live and I absolutely LOVE it. Jackie from Memories by Design did such a great job with it and really nailed it- she was such a gem to work with. It's so ME, so Nolan... so perfect!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Girl’s Day

A lot of people think that when you live in Florida, you go to the beach. When actually, most of the time you can go months with out even stepping foot near a beach. There’s something about it, maybe it’s the hassle of traffic or the fact that most of us aren’t on a vacation like the rest. We have jobs to tend to, houses to upkeep, families to feed and so on and so on.

So the other day when my sister proposed an idea to have a girls day at the beach with just us sisters and Mom, I thought it was a brilliant idea. I am always up for people watching down here on Spring Break.

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We had an iced coffee and sat on the boardwalk and people watched, then had lunch at our favorite beach front restaurant, The Cottage. Then afterwards hung out at the beach bar for hours talking, laughing and just enjoying the AWESOME weather. 

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It was just nice to get out and take advantage of the fact we are all in one city, right now at this very moment and not for something tragic or ill. Thank God.

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And now I am cursing myself for the sunglasses racoon look. Ahhhh! Never fails!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Our Nolan

Where do I even start? Should I start at the part where I stood in the guest bathroom at 4am in the morning staring at the 2 pink lines in amazement? Or the part where I told Chris the big news? Should I start where the pregnancy no longer was innocent and naive and the worry, prayers & fight started?

I don’t know. I shouldn't even be writing a post like this. A post of his life, I should be writing a post with updates from his well baby visits and new vacations we’re taking him on. But instead, I am here trying to keep my son’s life alive by words and pictures. So without further ado…

Nolan’s life.

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It was Dec 30th or 31st, I am not too sure exactly what day it was. But I woke up with some cramping and decided to take a test. I remember the 2nd line being faint but there was a line. Holy Cow! We’re pregnant!


I told Chris by running up to Target and buying the movie Knocked Up. I wrapped it up in Xmas paper and gave it to Chris. I woke him up and said I found a present I forgot to give him. He responded with something.. “Oooo I wonder what the heck this is” Since you could tell it was a DVD wrapped up.

I’ll never forget his face when he read “Due Date 9/9/09”

That was the beginning, it was the most exciting happy moment in our life. Both laying there in bed in amazement that we were going to be parents.


The next 2 months was filled with uneventful Dr’s appointments, telling parents and co-workers and dreaming about baby stuff. I ate, talked and breathed everything baby. I was just so darn excited. No lie.

We bought a new car, we considered it my soccer mom car! I knew I would need a bigger car and what better time to get one.

n290400051_331082_3917 In April, we found out out that our Ruby Baby was a little boy. Chris was SO excited! The Dr was a little concerned with his growth but was thinking he was curled up and wanted me back in 2 weeks for another scan. I was worried but had faith everything would be ok. We went shopping afterwards at Babies R Us and Carters. This is also nautical obsession started, I think I bought 3-4 outfits with sailboats and anchors.

In April, we went to Washington D.C. for a mini honeymoon. We took pictures ALL over the city with my popped out belly. It was in the hotel room in DC that I first felt our baby kick on the outside. Simply amazing.

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We decided on a nursery theme, even though it was kind of a given on what we would do. It was perfect and I couldn’t wait to get started.


Then May 6th happened. My follow up ultrasound showed our baby’s growth was now down to the 5th percentile and we needed to be referred to an MFM right away.

That night, my Mom flew down to be with us at the MFM appointment and at the time I thought it was overkill.

Then this happened, and I knew she was here for a reason. I broke apart, we broke apart. The next few days were full of tears, hope & lots of ice cream. I had no clue what to think honestly.

We had another scare.

The next few weeks were full of unanswered questions. The amniocentesis came back normal, but his size was not growing. By now, he was off the growth charts and Dr’s (MFM) was giving me NO hope. They also thought there was a heart defect and that we needed to go to Tampa to get an echo. This whole time MFM was telling me that I needed to grieve, go home and absorb everything that has happened. She also presented an option to terminate. NO WAY! I was giving our baby every fighting chance.

I went to Ohio when I was 23.5 weeks. I went home to see my family one more time, the MFM suggested it was a good idea to ‘be with my family’ so I did. We spent the weekend shopping for his nursery. We also noticed I was getting bigger so we had HUGE hope that he was going through a late growth spurt.3540595660_ee97acefa1 I came back, had tons of appointments, attending many more trips to L&D triage for some scares, many more ultrasounds for dopplers and fluid checks. I was placed on bed rest and was given a goal to get to 32 weeks. Nolan was measuring 3.5 weeks behind, had next to no fluid. I was drinking protein shakes and water like crazy trying to help his fluid and growth.

I did everything in my power. Everything. I fought and fought and fought.

This was my last blog post, just about an hour before I took my blood pressure and everything went down hill.

26 weeks

2 hours later, I was admitted for high blood pressure. I had a bad headache all day and went to Publix to check my BP. It was 189/118, I was told to come to L&D right away. I was told they weren’t sure what was going on with me but they wanted to admit me since my 24 urine from the other day was borderline preeclampsia.


Then the MFM came in, reminded me that if they deliver our baby would not survive. He was too small and pretty much crushed any hope I had.

8 hours later, my BP stopped responding to meds and my headache was back and my labs came back that I had HELLP.  In order to save my life, I had to deliver our baby. I cried, I bawled, and bargained with my OB to let me wait a few more days. I knew he wasn’t ready, he was just too small. She promised me that if I did not deliver in the next few hours, I would fall deathly ill, end up in ICU and possibly lose my life.

So there I was, my world turning upside down for real this time. My best friend, Val at my bed side helping the nurses prep me for the OR while Chris was out making phone calls. All I can remember was crying, I felt helpless.


Nolan Michael Dowaliby was born somewhere around 9am that morning in an emergency c-section. He came out and had a quick cry and had APGARS better than full term baby. The NICU team was able to stabilize much to the surprise of what MFM told me.  325

I’ll let you read the rest of his short 3 days if life in the actual blog posts that I wrote. The memories are faded and those posts make it so much more real than I could ever summarize.


Introducing Nolan Michael


Picture Update

NICU Day 1

Video & Update

NICU Day 2


I remembering having so much hope for Nolan. He got his name because it means little fighter and Chris gave in to my favorite name when i was bawling my eyes out to the OR because knew he was going to have to fight.

We had A LOT of visitors. Both Grandmas, Chris’ Dad, Aunt Trisha, Heather, Darleen, Valorie, and Jen all got to meet Nolan over the course of his life. Every single one that had the chance to meet our little miracle was just amazed at how truly small he was. Pictures just don’t do justice.

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We made many trips from my room with me in a wheelchair to the NICU. Chris and I spent a lot of time hanging out with Nolan watching him kick and move. He held our hand over him gently and also let him kick our hands away with his HUGE feet.

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We had our first family picture together, well kind of.

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This was my favorite day because the nurse really made me feel like a Mom. She let me take his temperature, help change his linens and even change my sons diaper.

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Last blog post when Nolan was alive, written just 3 hours before he left us.

 We went up to have a last visit before we went to bed. It was late, maybe 11pm and I remember blowing him a kiss good night and saying good night munchkin.

We went downstairs to my room, I fell asleep pumping and that’s when the nurse came in and told us to get to the NICU now.

The next time I saw Nolan, he had 10-12 people surrounding him, his giraffe incubator was fully open and he was coding. They had him off the vent and bagging him, doing CPR on his tiny chest. I lost it. They encouraged me to hold him while they did this, actually they insisted he be in my hands. I reached in the incubator picking him up and praying out loud.

We then had to make the difficult decision to stop the code, they had been fighting it for awhile and there was not much hope for survival and just 3 short mins later, Nolan was gone.

That’s when Valorie ran in, she opened her arms and held both Chris and I.

We lost our son, our life was immediately something we never imagined. I held my baby for the first time in my arms with no heartbeat.

For the next few hours, we held Nolan in that stupid family room that no one ever wants to be in. Only bad things happen in that room. My nurse even had to come up to give me my meds because I wasn’t ready to leave Nolan yet.

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That morning, I refused to leave the hospital or have any visitors until Chris and I laid in my hospital bed and read every single post on Nolan’s blog from day 1. Then I started to write his last post. I felt I had to do it before I left the hospital, it was something I just had to do.

I had to formally say goodbye to my son the same way I started telling his story, through a blog.

Goodbye Nolan Michael

We left the hospital less than an hour later, I left my innocent world behind me when I was wheeled out the hospital doors that day. Who I used to be left, and a fight for a new normal started.

The following weeks were followed with a million cards, planning our sons service and remembering what a courageous fight he had. I was so overwhelmed with how many people came to his service. Everyone even wore red and navy in honor of his favorite colors. Valorie made the most beautiful video of our Nolan’s life and there was not a dry eye in the church when it played. The last song we played was “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and during the song, the sun shined through the stained glass windows and made a rainbow on the floor right in the front of the church. It was a miracle from above, I couldn’t make this up, everyone saw it themselves.

 It seems like I could say so much more about my son’s life. I know it was short, but it just doesn’t seem right that I can write it all in one blog post. But here I am, trying to share with everyone my awesome, perfect and beautiful son’s life. I never want anyone to ever forget him.

I love you Nolan, always will.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Random Tuesdays

  • Going to the beach on Thursday and having lunch at the restaurant next to the party hotel just to people watch. I'm getting old, I used to be at that party.
  • Am I really ready for my first senior photo shoot on Friday? At least my Senior will make it easy.
  • Wonder how many points are in a full bag of Mini Cadbury Eggs, actually I really don’t want to know, I just finished off the bag with a little of Chris’ help. They really are crack.
  • Being a night shifter sucks when you run out of DVR shows and nothing is on the 600 channels you have at 4am. Life of a night shifter..hmm maybe I should do a post on that lifestyle, that would be fun.
  • How do I write my sons life in a blog post? Such a short life, but so much to be said.
  • What sidebar titles to I need? I need to figure this out, my new look goes live real soon!
  • Neesy Nash cracked me up on DWTS tonight, I love how she embraces her curves. Now if I could only do the same. Not a fan of Kate but loved the Pussy Cat girl. And Pam, well she is going to be a frisky one this season.
  • God I love Spanx, if they made a bathing suit… I would own it. Oh WAIT.. they DO! But how does it help if its a low rise bikini? Please enlighten me on this one.
  • Those nautical flip-flops are a must have! Summer is coming and I NEED them, it’s been a cold winter here in Florida so I haven't wore flip flops allllll winter looong (lie) LOVE THESE!
  • I feel better after this post, the one I have been drafting all night left me emotionally drained.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Story of US

With the anticipation of my new blog design being almost ready to launch, I want to write out the story of US. My original plans were to just put in the title bar and let you all find it with a old post date. But I wanted to share this here first. I know I have gained some new friends in blog land and wanted to formally introduce US.


weddingmeMeet Me, Ashley. I am a 20 something wife, mother and oldest of 4 kids. I grew  up in the suburbs of Chicago and relocated to Florida after high school with my family. Best thing I ever did!

I have been told I am good at making people laugh, although I admit it’s not on purpose, it is usually because of my many imperfections or stupidity. I am passionate about life, enjoying every second and keeping the memory of our son Nolan alive.

I am in love with ANYTHING nautical, I adore anchors and even have an anchor tattoo for Nolan and you will probably find me  on the show Hoarders in 20 years trying to quit my addiction to buying anchors.


n290400051_310677_9317Meet Chris, my awesome 6’7” husband. He is my husband and father of our son. He is my best friend and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Chris is the laid back personality and the guy that everyone loves to have as a friend. He just has that type of personality. I struck gold when I married Chris, I am one of those lucky girls.

A simple story of US.

We met at the young age of 19 at our part time job of Best Buy. We both weren’t looking, but kind  of fell into a relationship fairly easy. Holy cow, Chris still has hair here!



We shared a love for FSU.


We cruised.


We partied.


We got a dog.

We changed jobs, together (yes, we’re dorks)

We went through college together, my parents moved to Ohio and left me here in Florida. But that was okay because I had Chris.


He changed his major one million times, while I had just been accepted into respiratory therapy program.

He ended up going to the police academy and in the year of 2006, we both got grown-up jobs.

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In 2007, we took a cruise for our first vacation without family where he got down on one knee in St John’s on Honeymoon Beach and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.


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In December 2008, we invited 40 friends and family to sail with us aboard the Ruby Princess where we exchanged vows in front of the captain, out side on the aft deck while at sea. We partied our tails off and considered our wedding a week long reception. You can watch our wedding videos here, here & here.


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Then that New Years Eve, we found out we brought home a little souvenir from our wedding cruise. We were expecting our first child, a dream the both of us have talked about for awhile. Our unborn child was officially nicknamed

“Our Ruby Baby”


This is where this blog began, an innocent blog started to document the next 9 months of our life and share news with the family.

In May, the blog turned into a prayer and information blog sharing the fight we started of our unborn son and his fight with IUGR.

In June 2009, after 5 weeks of a grueling battle to fight for our son we welcomed Nolan Michael into this world at 26 weeks and 1 day due to Pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome.


We became parents and found out what being a NICU parent entitles.


Our son's life was cut short after 3 perfect days in the NICU. He was our miracle, our baby, our life. Chris and I became parents to a perfect 13 ounce boy who defied all odds and showed those specialists that he WOULD survive.

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We buried our son, something no parent should ever have to endure.

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We grieved.


The following months my blog turned into my therapy, a public and very raw insight of my feelings and battle with grief. A journey trying to find my new normal.

We’re hoping that 2010 brings up some good news. Chris and I have become stronger, value each other more than ever before and truly understand the value in life, miracles and hope.

Who knows where the next few years and decades will take us, but I have plans on sharing with all you because in my darkest moments you were there picking us up with your comments, texts, emails, phone calls and beyond. Because of you guys you have helped me pass Nolan’s story on and keep his spirit alive. My personal goal in life is to never let Nolan be forgotten. I want to live in his spirit, pass on the hope I had when we had him and share with others.

Here is to a continued version of  the story of A Ruby Family.