Thursday, May 28, 2015


I don't even know how to start this blog post. It's been a long time coming but just wasn't ready to put everything out there. Shocking I know, coming from a women who publicly blogged her grief journey. BUT....

Tonight marks the end of an era
And Era that I was so profoundly proud of and took so much pride in. When I got married, I said my vows and meant every.single.word, through thick and thin- better for worse. I wanted to see my family flourish into something beautiful and magnificent. I wanted everything I grew up with, siblings, laughter, traditions and most of all love. My Mom and Dad from as little as I can remember has made me want to be like them. In love, most of the time, getting through the worst of times and loving every second of family. 
It's the one thing I starkly remember  is my family loved each other unconditionally and even if it was in the most chaotic way.

I've heard life comes in stages or lets say waves. Ya, I get that- I've been though a freaking tsunami in the past 6 years and up until July of last year, I felt confident we made it through the worst. We went through more than most couples do in a lifetime. To me, THAT was something to smile about in the midst of a storm. Even then, I grieved yet picked up the very broken pieces and tried to make what little sense I could out of them. I came closer to my own faith and leaned upon that in my weaker moments along side my husband. Because in the end, we both went through this together and rising on top. 

Then life took a nice turn, we fell pregnant again and with an OB that coddled me like I was her own daughter. She went through Nolan with us, every second. She made the next 8+ months I was pregnant enjoyable as one could have. I prayed. I prayed like crazy. I said my Novena's nightly, I embraced best rest like it was my full time dream job and in that same time remained loyal and supportive of the husband that held my hand through all this mess. I prayed like crazy that this was our chance at a traditional family.

In December 2010, a long yet tedious fight for life, Chris and I gave birth to a 5lb 6oz healthy baby boy. CC (Christopher Charles) Life was as complete as we would ever know it to be. I was literally on top of the world. I knew deep down in my heart he would never in a million years replace Nolan yet he would fill my heart with hope and love that I felt was next to impossible to feel in the prior years.

We bought our (wait apparently "my dream home"). It was in the churches backyard where I could literally look out CC's window and blow a kiss towards the memorial garden we placed Nolan in every night. I couldn't have asked for better considering the situation. I wanted CC to grow up in a neighborhood filled with families, kids, traditions and most of all growing up to learn his older brother is so close yet so far away.

A year ago today, I struggled with this entire picture. I couldn't figure out why my life felt so "off"
I had a dream job in the very NICU Nolan was in, a beautiful & very healthy & so very hilarious 3 year old that I woke up for every morning wanting to be the best Mom a child could ask for. And a husband that I thought even though his struggles and his own grief loved me to pieces. Or so I thought. It makes me sick to my stomach knowing I was so delusional at such a vulnerable time in my life.

It may sound bizarre but I feel my perspective has put a very unique vision on life as I know it. Down't sweat the small things; I live in the moment, hire a cleaning lady and don't waste your time. "Because Ashley, you have the whole world in your hand right there in front of you, everything you ever wanted."

But now, in this very day I am struggling with how I pictured this so called life. I could throw myself a pity party if I so chose to but that's just not me. I honestly believe I was in a state of Nostalgia.

In late September I unfortunately learned I was not enough. No matter what I did or what I said- I.was.not.enough.
Without going into details, I didn't do enough nor was I the perfect size, did't work out enough and try harder to be fit and blah blah blah. 

In that moment, ok maybe a few weeks later in one of those kind of moments I realized I deserve better. I deserve the same love I give to a partner. I want love to be reciprocated without effort and a marriage that vows mean what you stood in front of God, family and friends stating... YOU, you are my forever though hell and back.

Because, I've been there. I know. I was doing that. It's been months, almost a year since my so called ,less than perfect life was turned upside down and quite honestly I can say I am in a better place today in this moment than I was in the uncertainty of last year's dishonesty.

But.. For the first time since then...

Tonight was rough. The past few days have been embarrassingly difficult. Actually this past couple days have been the hardest I have experienced since well.. since we lost Nolan. Tomorrow we close on the house that I once upon a time believe it or not saw as the home CC would grow up in with the same neighbors grade to grade. I worked so hard for that home. I prayed for it, I upkeep it minus cleaning lady duties and lawn- ha! I took pride in every detail that went into that home.

It's hard emotionally detaching from a home that hold so much emotional ties to. It's just different than any old home to me. It was the home CC practically grew up in. We picked that home for that reason. I was truly blessed with some of the most amazing neighbors a new Mom/neighbor could ask for and I can only hope and pray the new family feel that same connection bc I want them to know more than anything that the home they just moved into was once a dream and I want them to fill it with every single piece my broken family never got to.

Good Luck to the new family, she's a beauty and every little paint scrape and stain came from a once hilarious or memorable moment. 

On to new adventures and starting over. It's a sad yet enlighten time to be going through, not one I would invite anyone on for the ride. Because trust me, I will be so damn happy when this chapter ends and a new begins. CC and even I deserve it, Happiness and unconditional love are the only two things on MY Christmas list this year.

Thank you to each and every one of you for following my story the past 6 years and helping me keep Nolan's story alive. It means the world to me overtime I read comments, texts or emails saying you thought of Nolan. 

I will rise out on top of this chaos, not sure how or when but if I got through the past 6 years- I think I can handle whatever comes this way.

Bless each and everyone of you!

Closing this chapter on this blog. I hope one day this blog brings CC some happiness knowing his parents were once happy and know in words how absolutely loved he is.

Monday, June 9, 2014

5 years later

There was once a time I wondered if I would ever feel OK again. To feel a breath of air without feeling suffocated and to live with the power of laughter. I once urned to feel alive again, I starkly remember everything being a blur. At the time, grief knocked the breath out of me over and over and over again. I was knocked down by the shrill thought of our nightmare.

The night, that in it's  young was full of hope and coated with naive. I went to bed taking for granted that tomorrow would happen, sure it would be filled with anxiety and fear but I already was given the free ticket to this ride that I already cautiously accepted. 

That phone call changed everything. In an instant. And oh how I have come to know how and instant can halt infinity in a fraction of a second. Your hopes come shattered in front of you, your very breath raped from your soul and reality smacks you right there in your face.

That's my story. Not everything is happy. I, well... we became that story. The one I once shy ed away from, never thought would happen to me kind of story. We turned the corner what seemed like a slow motion movie to see our less than one pound baby surrounded by every nurse, RT & DR in that room fighting. Ventilators being switched, compressions being counted, tears filling the very eyes on the other side of the bed. The side I am used to being on. 

I held him. They encouraged me to and at the time I didn't think that moment would be monumental, they were still doing compressions and I was praying out loud in tears that God would give us a pass. He would teach me my lesson right then and there. This was just a nightmare.

But he didn't spare us. 

We all know the story, I have typed it over and over again. Code was called, I fell in Chris' arms and I now know more than ever the process that begin right there in that moment.

I guess I look back 5 years later and still- as vivid as that moment was etched into my heart- today it's so different. I remember moments but barely my surroundings, how I acted, what I said. And if it wasn't for this blog- god only knows what I would remember and it saddens me.

But here I am wishing I remembered more. Praying I had a vivid good memory, one I could recall without having to read a blog post or flashback to something bad. I want to remember the good Nolan gave us, the fight we fought for him when OB specialist told us it would be OK to give up and not to bother to have hope.

I was driving down the road tonight, it was dark with no other cars beaming in the distance and I flash backed to the night I drove home from Sanibel at 3 in the morning after visiting Chris at work after I had a mental breakdown at home. I forgot how broken  I once was triggered by something as easy as driving past the hospital- my gosh the thought of even stepping foot in there would send me over edge.

Today I grieve, it's a different grief. It's still a raw and painful jagged feeling but different. I only longed what it would feel like to be a mother, granted I knew I was a mother. But all I knew was broken and ugly. One that justified my title by my emptiness trying to convince myself that through that glass he knew I was his mom cheering him on every second of the way. I knew the entire time his odds were against him. It's reality. I chose to ignore that because I didn't want him to feel that.

Today I grieve normalcy. I long for that feeling to have 2 children in the same household, pray that CC would call out to Nolan and wish I had to tame 2 insane boys all while juggling a career and household. My triggers have evolved to those with normal families that throw innocent birthday parties that have siblings and chaos. I want that SO BADLY. I am having to grasp that CC is an "only child" YET...he's SO not.

I cried the other night when I told CC to wish Nolan a Happy Birthday in his prayers and he so innocently looked at me with a sad face and said "But he's too far away"

I have done my best to teach CC he has a big brother who lives in heaven, that we visit in a memorial garden. He knows to blow kisses to his Great Grandpa, Uncle Charlie & his cousin Brice when we visit Nolan. He told me a few weeks ago that Nolan wasn't teeny tiny anymore but a big boy now. He said it with such certainty that it took my breath away.

It's my normal. I just wish it was so different but our stars weren't aligned as such. I often daydream what our life would be like with 2 boys here and how we would be different.

But oddly enough, I have come accustomed to it. I have adapted to this life, slowing accepting how I react to what was given to us. My hand has been held by some incredible people, INCREDIBLE. As alone as I felt having my heart ripped from me, I oddly never felt alone. 

He has allowed me to move my own mountains that I never knew existed before him. I miss him with my entire being and long for that hope he made my heart swell with. He made me a Mom. A first time Mom that taught me love can be eternal yet not forever tangible. An that  instant can be a lifetime.

And your little miraculous lifetime made me who I am.
You are beautiful.

I miss you Nolan

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Toddler 1, Mom 0 (a big fat zero)

I'm not really sure what I was thinking when I agreed to go get a mani/pedi today with CC in tow.

I had convinced myself that with the aid of coloring books, crayons, iPad, flash cards, trains he diligently picked out himself and good ole McDonalds Happy Meak that he would be content for an hour.


Take a deep breath...

Hahahaha hahahaha
I'm sure the women in the salon mumbled under their breath when I walked in with the stroller and claimed we had an appointment.

Granted he started to prove me wrong. For a nanosecond, I thought- "crap, this could be life changing"

Again, hahahaha hahahaha!

It started with me falling out of my pedi chair trying to set up the iPad which in turn spilled my mimosa all over the floor.

Ok fine. No big deal.

CC is content for awhile after that.
Well of course he was content... he was going all Picaso drawing with crayon all over the iPad.

10 min later, a bag of Goldfish was thrown like a bag of rice at a wedding. Poor nail techs acted like it was no big deal as they got out the freaking shop vac like it was a daily occurance. Thank god for their patience today.

2 hours later. Mani/pedi complete and a nice tip we were out the door. Sure, he could have been way worse- but it was enough to NEVER do that again.

Oh! And let it be that my damn nails were ruined by time I got home. That's what I get by trying to save time and not get shellac.

So nap time was non existent after missing the Golden Hour, so my plans for an early dinner and bed start brewing the second I got home. Chris was on his way out the door to work while I sat on the couch with a Costco sized bag of white Cheddar Pirates Booty (OMG amazing stuff)

After dinner I realize how much crumbs there were and ask CC to help me sweep it up. But every time I would finally sweep it into a pile, CC would pile through with his mini broom.

Fine. Ill get the vacuum and beat you to the punch you little devil you.

The vacuum didn't seem to be working, no matter what I did, it seemed to me multiplying.
Of course .

That was because I realized CC created a hole in his diaper and the crumbs were actually the beads from the absorbent stuff.

Diaper off in an attempt to cease the white ball mess. In the 2 seconds it took me to toss it out, CC was over in the corner peeing on the floor.

Did I mention how much of a pain in the ass it is to get that stuff to sweep or vacuum??!

But now it's 7:30pm- were showered and pajamas and laying in bed. I should grab a beer but laying down and passing out seems so much more appealing right now.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Way back when in 2012: a pictorial update

Siiiigh. So wondering what's been going on? Well here we go-

CC met his main mouse Mickey. Yea yea, this was waaaay back in October and since then have been back almost every month. Living in Florida has it's perks and I follow this guy's blog at and follow the days he says to go. 

Even sent off a Mickey balloon on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day since we wouldn't be lighting a candle as we do every year.

Then there was Halloween. Where I attempted to be a cool Mom and MAKE his costume. Dont let the costume fool you, I don't sew- I hem with hot glue. Hey it works.

I went on a vacation. Yup, I left Chris and CC behind and went on a cruise with my mom. Shocker, a cruise right? I took a week of no work, tons of sleep and no guilt drinking and it was AMAZE-BALLS!
 Good times!

And I got to wear sparkles and make-up. Cheers!
P.S. Doesn't my Mom look awesome!

OH! Then out of nowhere- we found ourselves a TWO year old- a 36lb, energetic and full of personality little two year old. We spent the day up in Orlando having breakfast with Mickey and celebrated with a birthday party over the weekend with close family and friends. 

And then, he grew up and got his Driver's License. No lie. And the kid is a pimp, already picking up the ladies.

Christmas came and went but not before sending out this classic Christmas card. My mom said,

 "You're really not going to send out a picture of him picking his nose are you?"

Yes. Yes I am. Come on, I'm a freaking respiratory therapist. I pick those suckers for a living.

No lie. He did that all by himself. I a just the crazy Mom with the camera who got the moment. THANK GOD! 

OH! We added an addition to the family. Yea, that was back in October. His name is Knox and he is awesome. Chris will deny his "permission" he granted me when I called from the breeders begging for the dog. 

"Do what you think is right"

That's what he told me. I hung up, turned to the breeder and asked her who to write the check out to. The breeder then commented on how that was the quickest and most efficient she ever heard a significant other get a "yes" out of the other half.

Well, it wasn't a "yes" per-say, but in my book it was.
So here he is. Back when he was little. REAL Little.

Every little boy needs a dog. At least in my book.

Back to chronological order of events here.

Went on another cruise. CC's 4th cruise. More to come on cruising with a toddler in a later post. 

And here we are now. That's like 1/8 of what we have been up to. So much more but what it really comes down to is waking up, shuffling day to day between work, gym, chasing toddler, attempting to be a house wife. HAHAHAHAA. I suck at it. My brain is like a freaking circus 99.9% of the time.

I'm good. Hired a cleaning lady, house never looks it but hey at least my toilets are clean. Thankfully CC loves chicken nuggets and mac n cheese because those are easy to make and as long as I keep up on my ADD meds...

We are GOLDEN!

Speaking of Golden's-
Here's a new picture of the sweet boy Knox

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Life in the way.

There was once a time I laid in bed in tears wondering what it was like to be a Mom. Well a Mom to a little boy here on Earth. I would scour the Internet looking for someone just like me, someone I could relate to. Someone that too felt so lonely and isolated in this world swallowed in unimaginable grief.

I found comfort in blogging and in turn met many many women who too gone through such grief. I had a lot of time on my hands. A LOT.

I blogged and blogged and blogged again. Words just flew out on to the keyboard.

And then I look at my last blog post and it was like... a million years ago. Seriously- over 9 months ago.

What happened?

Life I guess. Life got in the way. But a good way. And I am loving every single last second of it. It's not as easy to write anymore. I am unsure if it's because I am in a much better place and I find it harder to write with ease or is it the 37lb toddler I am trying to keep up with? Granted sometimes when I need to write most over the past year, it's had to do with work and the emotions working in the NICU has brought me and well, I can't say much due to HIPPA. So I am stuck.

Either way- I miss it. I love going back the past few years and watching our family grow and documenting the little things I don't ever want to forget. I want to savor every second just as I did in Nolan's short little life. I am so thankful I did, because almost 4 years later...the little moments are fading but the words I wrote in those very days quickly and vividly remind me of what happened. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sandy toes

A little sand between the toes, a mouthful of shells and red little cheeks make an afternoon at the beach basking in the warm sun perfection. I often forget how close to paradise we live considering we get so caught up in the everyday hustle of work, family and life. It was heaven taking a day and spending it on the one of our most beautiful beaches with some close friends, perfect setting to catch up on life.

What a differnce in a year can make.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Ounces of Hope {dreams come true}

When dreams are shattered and hope is lost you wander aimlessly wishing for a miracle. The past 3 years and most specifically before CC came into our lives, I felt hopeless and useless. I felt my energy that should be given to Nolan was overlooked and I was forever ruined in grief. Granted I picked up the pieces ever so slowly and grieved out loud, I wouldn't be who I am or what I have become in the past 3 years if it wasn't for loosing Nolan. I'm slowly learning understanding God gave us my our experience so I could do great things.

Ok, typing that out makes me sound like I fully accept losing Nolan, but that's not exactly what I mean.

It's more so that there are times in your life that define you forever. They create you who are, how you change, how you react and most of all who you become.

Nolan was given to me for a reason, and I believe it now more than ever before.

On March 23rd, I clocked in for the first time as a working respiratory therapist in the NICU Yes, you read that right. My dreams have come true. 6 years ago I chose to take my career in the direction of adults with a desire to one day become a NICU therapist. My dreams shattered after becoming a MOM and going through some major PTSD (apparently I had PTSD after siting in on a lecture at a neonatal conference and nodding my head to every sign & symptom). And to be frank, I was scared I never would fulfill my dreams after that. But here I am, it just feel into my lap, I had a great support system and it has been the most healing experience I have had yet.

On May 11th, I launched Ounces of Hope, a complimentary photography service offered to the babies in the very same NICU. Named after Nolan only being 13 ounces and the hope he gave us. I realize now that those very pictures I took so innocently those 3 days in the NICU would forever be gold in my heart. Parents often have cameras & pictures in mind when caring for their newborn baby or critical neonate and I want to give back to them what I got. So in years to come they can look back to where their journey began.

So without further ado, my latest project...

Ounces of Hope

I have been so overwhelmed with nothing but support and love and I am in love with the direction my life is heading.

I had hit a point in my grief where I need to do something to pay it forward. I've been watching other Moms have fundraisers to add new Giraffe beds to the NICU, some knit hats and others build memory boxes to give to newly grieving parents before they leave. All which are absolutely amazing things to give to the NICU.

I knew I wanted to do something for my NICU I just didn't know what. I knew it had to be close to my heart and have a driving passion for whatever it may be. It took me 2 and a half years to have my "ah-ha" moment... that photography is where my heart is at. With in weeks of proposing the idea to the director of the NICU & hospital officials, Ounces of Hope was born.

As I stand back and look at the whole project as one, I realize I am picking up the pieces, turning them into something beautiful.I look at our Nolan as my light, my cheerleader, he gave me a cause and I'm going to run with it. The void I have felt the past 3 years is starting to fill in with hope again and dreams for others. I want to be part of it. And the connections I have made in the past couple of months with Nolan's caregivers (and now co-workers) & with the families and parents absolutely exceed anything I could ever ask for. 

Coming up on 3 years this month (June 8th) I never expected to be typing a blog post of this nature. It really puts into perspective how far I really have come.
I guess I can say, I am one lucky girl.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Coming soon....

I'm alive and well. Very well. So much has happened in the past few months and I am dying to share. But blame the 17 month old, new job- yes I said new job (can you guess where???) and writer's block, I have been MIA.
Add a few vacations on a cruise....

and a trip to Chicago and this lady is exhausted. Again, in a good way.
I have sat down numerous times to tap out my thoughts on a keyboard and I don't know if it's the overwhelming sense of joy (of what I want to write about) or the lack of attention added to writer's block....
It's like a blogger's jumbled mess of art. Yea- art. If you only saw my draft.


Until the next post....... I'll leave you with some CC crack.
He's a walking, almost talking 30lb little boy. Where did our baby go!?