The Lasts

Last week, Ben had to set an alarm on his phone and when I heard it go off the first time, I almost jumped out of my skin.

To me, that was no regular sound, but rather THE sound that literally marked our time in the NICU, as it was his phone that kept track of just how long it had been since we last fed the baby or I last took my medicine. Day and night, those were the bells that we worked toward and through, not knowing how many more times we’d have to set them before our wish to come home was granted.

We did that for three weeks. And bless it, now Wilson is three months old and we’ve been home for well more than double of the time that we weren’t here. NICU parents: is it weird that I’m still counting that time or is that another NICU thing? Because I can literally look at the calendar and be thankful in an instant again that we’ve put that many dates between being there and being home. (Disclaimer: I don’t hate the NICU. Yes, I’m still shaking it off myself at times, but obviously if your baby needs to be there, you are hella grateful that it exists and can help you get to the point of shaking off and being home.)

At three months, Wilson continues to charm us all on a constant basis. She sleeps – in my arms, in her rock-n-play, in her bed – pretty much wherever and whenever. She eats – almost always in our favorite rocking chair where I can watch the little boys play Wrestle Mania on the bed that sits in that same room. She smiles – ALL the time at ALL of us and it literally the best thing ever, every single time. She talks – OK, coos and makes this little noise that sounds like “whoo whoo” just like her sister’s owl friend, and again, hearts melting left and right each time it happens.

At three months, Wilson also continues to surprise us with her growth. Unlike her sister (one of my two babies who stayed in the 8th percentile, Sister Wilson is gaining and stretching like crazy. She’s up to just shy of 13 lbs. and is so long that she’s already outgrown the 0-3 month clothes. So while it was just a wee month ago that I finally pulled out the baby girl stuff from the basement, I’ve already had to go digging again because she’s too long for all the stuff Raegan wore her first winter (and she was almost three weeks ahead of WA on the calendar). And because Big Sister stayed little for so long, I hit a bit of a season snafu in that next sized bin which lead me to make a quick Target order for some 3-6 sleepers to get us through the rest of this crazy-arse cold weather that I would very much like to see end and soon, thanks.

I mention all of this not to bore you with details about my online shopping habits, but to document that not all reminders of our time in Omaha are triggers in the negative way. img_9238Meaning? Well, these sleepers. They are the exact same set (but one size bigger) that we bought for her on one of those after-hospital Target runs in the first few days at Children’s. She wore them all the time there and since we’ve been home. They are beautiful and soft (and zip from the top down which I have never seen before but is incredibly smart and great for keeping tummies warm and covered) and I don’t feel like jumping out of my skin when I see them.

Actually, what I do feel like I’m doing with this new set is my darndest to hang on to those moments of being small and new because for the first time, I know that I am actually doing all of this for the last time.

The thought of tossing those 0-3 month sleepers in a tote and just moving on with it caught me off guard because the next time I dig through those clothes will be to sell or give away, not for one of my own babies, and that hit me harder than I expected it to. So I’m totally slapping a Band-Aid on the situation by putting her in the exact same outfits one size up, but I’ll take it because this is my version of enjoying what truly are the lasts.

I may not be able to pull off the “enjoy EVERY MOMENT” thing that every young mother has heard at some point in her young mamahood, but I certainly am soaking in as much as I can because I get it. Our family will not grow and stretch again, but you can bet these babies of mine are going to keep on doing just that.


Little Ben

I don’t know if it is more of a physical or personality resemblance, but I have long thought that of all my kids, Lincoln is our Little Ben. There is just something about those two that makes them seem awfully similar to one another, so why not write about LT on B’s bday? 😉

One indicator that Linky is his Daddy’s boy? I can already see that Lincoln, should he one day decide to embark on such, is going to be a terrific daddy himself! For real, this kid loves babies, which I didn’t quite put together until after Wilson got home from Omaha.

It was clear that Lincoln loved Baby Truman, too, but I thought that was more of a toddler thing perhaps. LT was 2 and change when TJ was born, and whenever Lincoln was having a fit or was upset, his go-to way to self-soothe was to run to Truman and hug him. It was sweet but I didn’t know just how characteristic it was of Lincoln until this time around with a new baby when by far the things I hear him say the most are:

“Ooooo, I just can’t stop hugging her, Mama!”
“She is so adorable. She is so huggable!”

And, “Where’s Wilson? I need to give her a hug!” (not much guessing involved to determine his Love Language, eh?)

Take this morning, for example, when Ben and Lincoln were getting ready for school (and a longer than normal day for Lincoln away from the house). Lincoln could not head out the door until he’d figured out where Wilson was hanging out so he could, you guessed it, give her a big hug and snuggle.

Holding her, helping me get things for her, talking to her during Tummy Time…all of these are Lincoln’s super skills right now and it is so sweet to observe. As if this girl didn’t already have a bunch of Super Fans! Clearly she’s got a No.1 champion in her No.2 big brother.

There is a LOT to be said about the Effing Fours (which we are thankfully seeing less and less of now that we’ve crossed over the 4.5 mark), but some bits of four are absolutely fabulous, including how big, soft, and huggable their hearts make them.


What We Know of Willa (One Month In)

While we are still getting ourselves settled into Home Life at the One Week/Month Mark with sweet Wilson Ann, it is very clear that she has stolen all of our hearts and was always meant to be part of our story. I may still find myself mystified at times that I am now a mama to five and that we have a second girl in that bunch, but there’s no mystery when it comes to how happy they make my heart.


Now that we’ve had a wee bit of time to be in our normal chaos instead of hospital chaos, we’ve also had a wee bit of time to learn more about just who this newest little person is. For the most part, minus that doctor-made belly button and inch(ish)-long scar on her tummy, she’s a typical newborn. She eats every 2-3 hours during the day, sleeps a lot, and poos. That’s really about it (and isn’t it all just glorious?).

Wilson is a fan of her paci, being super snuggled up in blankets or on her people, and noise. Thank goodness, right?! Because you know there’s no way that all four Bigs have suddenly learned to be super quiet, so they’re all a good match. But side note question: anyone out there have a good white noise device to recommend for nighttime? Normally we just run floor fans, but currently using an app on my phone and wondering if there is a happier medium out there.

Her color is gorgeous and she’s doing the full-peel/slight baby acne thing right now. Her hands don’t stay quite as tightly balled as I remember her siblings doing, and she loves to swing her long arms around during feedings and diaper changes (because: challenge is fun, right?). Although she doesn’t cry much, when she does, it tends to ratchet up pretty quickly into a sound that makes my mama heart hurt because it’s one I heard other babies in the NICU doing but never from her while there, so the guilt of not being able to be with her 24/7 the whole time in Omaha comes swooping in pretty quickly when she does that (was she crying like that when we were gone?!). Trying to remind myself that that might just be a Fifth Kid thing and not so much a NICU thing and she’s not afraid to use her voice to join the (happy) cacophony of our home.

Speaking of her voice, she has this grunt/throat clear sound that is always in triplet which is quite endearing, unless it is between 3-6 a.m., in which case I’m less of a fan.

And as fond as Wilson is of being around the rest of the Welschies and their goings-on, I find myself wishing for not much else than to be close to her, too (OK, sleep. I also really just want a bit more sleep or an uninterrupted nap for once, but I digress). I don’t think that’s much different from my other babies, but it feels a bit more heart-string pulling in those moments when I just get to hold her in my arms or on my chest, or put her on the bed next to me for a little close time. After all the lines and cords and beeping/dinging things that were connected to her arms, legs, and chest for the first three weeks of her life, to have nothing between us is the biggest blessing after that of being home.

So one whole month. Forever long and also gone, just like that. She is perfect.



“Shhhh! Baby!”

Somewhere in the hustle of coming home last week, Ben and I were conversing about how we were going to navigate all the hubbub (read: chaos) of four excited siblings around the new baby and I told him I really didn’t want us to be yelling at them constantly. But how does one approach Bigs without constantly hollering at them to be quiet (ha – there’s a fun oxymoron/paradox of parenting, eh?).

Somehow B came up with the idea to hush them by saying, “Shhh! Baby!” and oh my word…in a handful of days we’ve already said it enough times that the kids are now saying it to each other and it truly has become a reflex response from both of us when any of them are being loud. Side note: how is Lincoln, my still in 20th percentile for size kid,SO loud? I know those outside our walls may not believe me because he tends to be so quiet elsewhere, but! SO loud!!

The irony of our shushing? Wilson actually seems to be quite comforted by the noisiness of our house and doesn’t care at all that her brothers and sister are literally bouncing off the furniture while hooting and hollering around her. In fact, on our first full Day One at home, everyone bailed from the dining room after breakfast, leaving her snoozing in her Rock-n-Play, and it wasn’t until it was totally quiet that she got mad enough to squawk about the happenings around her.

Clearly she loves her people and it’s safe to say the feeling is mutual.

How do we know? The number of fights logged thus far over who gets to hold the baby. img_8657This started within, oh, maybe 20 minutes of all seven of us being in the house together and has continued through every offered Sibling Hold Fest. They call (read: scream) “dibs!” and race each other to the couch and Boppy and basically refuse to give up their turn until we force them to do so. It’s both (slightly) irritating and (most definitely) the cutest thing ever. The only one who doesn’t get super worked up is Harrison, as he knows that his stay-up-late time is his hold-the-baby time while we read together before bed.

They are all just so darn proud when they hold her, too. I mean, for cute – look at Truman’s face from that first img_8614afternoon! He is suuuuuch a natural with her and totally enamored, too, as evidenced by his softly patting hands and his wiggling, happy feet the whole time he first got his arms on her (and every time since).

And if Wilson so much as cries for a split second, at least one, if not all four, of them is asking where her paci is, or telling us that her hat came off, or alerting us to the fact that she needs us; so fear not, Willa – you have a whole crew of watchers keeping an eye and ear out for you!


Which leads to one more story. Remember the whole designation of the nickname Willa? Because I love the name and I didn’t want them trying to call the baby Willy? Well, the biggest Bigs were complaining to me while we were still in Omaha that people were calling her Willa instead of Wilson, making it quite clear by accusational tones of voice what they thought of that (HD has since at least tried to slip “Willa” into conversation, but I’m still not sure he’s down with it), so so much for best laid plans, eh? And sure enough, they STILL managed to catch me off guard when tonight after super, Raegan suddenly referred to the baby as Wilsy and asked, “Pleeeeeease! Please can we call her Wilsy????”

Lord, give me strength-y.

Great/Gray Expectations

I get it. This time of year can be hard on anyone (everyone?). There is so blessed much going on with programs and parties and holiday activities, not to mention self-proscribed traditions and To Do lists and preparations (house, gifts, food, etc.) that can suck up all our time and energy in December.

This year feels especially confusing because I didn’t even realize it really WAS December until we landed at home in the late afternoon of 12/14 and even if you’re like me and not a math-er, you can see by those numerals that we missed half the month of getting our heads, hearts, and house ready for this special time of year. And, quite honestly, I’m pretty pissed at time right now because the three weeks we lost in Omaha are messing with me.

Now, to be clear….when I say “lost” I do not mean wasted. We did exactly what we needed to do for Wilson by being where we were for as long as we were (OK, still would have liked to have been home waaaay sooner, but that’s OK, Baby Girl – you are an excellent bus driver and we were happy to comply since it meant we got to bring you home at all). And in the grand scheme of things, three weeks is a drop in the bucket of time/a year/a life, and I am very much aware of people who stay longer or graduate to other parts of the hospital or live daily with illness and medical complications.

Awareness and heartbreak for those situations do not change, however, the fact that my own postpartum experience with Willa was nothing I ever anticipated, much less prepared for or knew how to navigate, and now that we are through it, I don’t know how to do what I’m doing now, either, which is trying to figure out life back in my house and with my five children and all in the week prior to Christmas during which my husband is teaching full-time because of Finals. It all feels like a bit much, you know?

Enter the Great Expectations. I know my kids don’t really care what they get for Christmas and that if we don’t do All. The. Things. we have done in Christmas’ Past, they will live (and trust me, they all have elephant memories, so they will remember). Even I don’t have huge expectations of what Christmas should be or look like, but the fact that it is suddenly upon us and I’ve had no time to ease into that, much less newborn life, is hard.

And enter the Gray Expectations, which is how I feel about our homecoming and what I think people are maybe expecting of me which is to be gushing with happiness right now. The number one question I am getting, and understandably so, is, “How is it to be home?!” and it is my response to that that feels so loaded. The answer is more complicated than “good” but not everyone wants/needs to hear that and I don’t actually need to start crying every time I talk to someone about it, so what do I do?

A “good/yes” response is true.

A “hard/overwhelmed” one is as well.

And I think it’s just going to be like that for a while as we take time to unpack our bags from the hospital, find all the baby odds and ends around the house that we need, and deal with the see-saw of emotions that come with any newborn adjustment, much less one post-NICU, and yes, prepare for Christmas, too.

I wish there was a more compact way to include that in my answer to the No.1 question these days, but none of this is black and white, and as with any parenting journey, there’s no manual, either, so the best we – I – can do is to keep trying and talking (OK, mostly writing) about the “tossed in the deep end” moments, for how else do we hope to make any progress to our new normal?

Good and Hard. Great and Gray. All of these things, and so much more are a part of this time and this sweet Little One’s story. And so, we carry on.



Bless it, my friends, we are finally home! I apologize if we were a little mum and sneaky during our last 24 hours at the hospital, but things started coming at us quickly, and we were just happy to comply and get the heck out of there as quickly as we could once that ball started rolling!

img_8569It began Wednesday afternoon with the Charge Nurse coming to tell us we could move into the Transition Room that afternoon. This is the before-home room that has its own door and bathroom (um! Hello and thank you!!) and a place for two people to sleep (due to other rules on the Unit, the other two nights we slept at the hospital with Willa actually meant me sleeping on a pull-out chairbed (that was acquired only by giving up my rocking chair) and Ben sleeping on the bench/couch thing in the waiting room. Nooooot exactly ideal). So we booked it over to the Rainbow House were we quickly packed up our stuff and checked out of there so we could spend the final two nights in the TR instead. The Rainbow House has a waiting list right now, so we were very happy to give up our spot for some other family in need of close lodging, and a couple nights early, to boot.

It surprised us how different the new room felt and we spent the rest of Wednesday evening getting semi-settled and ready to get Wilson through another night of feeds because we REALLY needed her to show a weight gain by 7:00a Thursday morning as this was the one thing the doc was really looking for after letting her go ad lib on nursing Wednesday. For our sanity’s sake, we kept up with the before/after weights on each feeding because the last thing we wanted was a surprise (in a bad way) Thursday morning!

True to #WonderWilson form, Baby Girl rocked it and even added an extra feeding in there, making her 7-7 total for her first day with no NG supplementation a whopping 94% intake via the breast. Amazing (& as a friend pointed out, good dang thing I have a lot of dang milk!)!!

We saw her doctor in the hall Thursday morning and gave him the good news (she did indeed gain by her official weigh time Wednesday night) and then while we were eating breakfast in the waiting room, our nurse came by to tell us that she’d heard a rumor we might be going home that day instead of Friday.

As you might imagine, our hearts leapt at this and we got


right to it with sending out all the hopes and wishes and prayers that that might actually happen, which we found out less than two hours later was very much indeed the case!

Because Willa showed so much progress and aptitude for feeding these last few days, and everything else had been cleared and done, they saw no need to keep her for one more day/night just to prove she could go home. So pack we did and by noon Thursday we were officially in our van, driving away from Children’s for Wilson’s very first car ride. HOME.

We could not wait to surprise the Bigs after school! And we couldn’t wait to surprise all of you with this fun and fantastic news, too!

From here, we know we enter a new period of chaos. Of course it is a much better, more familiar kind of chaos, but we still have a lot of adjustment to do as a not-so-little family. Not only do we have to recover and regroup after three weeks of crazy separation, we have to do the typical “Hi! There’s a new person in our house!” stuff which can be interesting even without such a wild, disjointed start.

To be perfectly honest, we’re probably going to hunker down a bit, and we hope you’ll understand if we’re not really out and about or big on visits right now. It’s not that we don’t want you to meet our Sweet Wonder Girl – we very much do – but we also want to stay mindful of many things right now including Cold & Flu season (our doctor flat out told us to avoid crowds and playing “pass the baby” anywhere) as well as the fact that we’re probably going to need about as many weeks as we had at the hospital here at home before we really feel settled. And while we’re flying high on adrenaline and love right now, I’ll warn you that there may be days when I flat out can’t talk about it because the whole thing has been surreal and it is going to take time to process before I can maybe have normal conversations about it all. Please don’t take it personally if I 1) burst into tears and/or 2) change the subject on you the next time I see you!

Please also know that I will continue to post updates and pictures for you and that we appreciate so very much all of your continued support up to and beyond this point in Willa’s story. You all stepped up to help and provide and love on us when we needed it the most and even though it took longer to get home than we hoped, we know you all helped us get here as smoothly and quickly as possible.

And a huge shout out and thank you for understanding as we give Wilson and all the Bigs (and ourselves) time, space, and grace on this much-anticipated, much-appreciated time of re-entry. Besides trying to acclimate back to our own house, we’re trying to do as much of this (line-free snuggles) as possible: img_8641

Go Fly

After a handful of steady days of a steady plan (and slow but steady progress), we hit a hiccup with Wilson’s feeding that started Saturday overnight and definitely carried over through last night and this (Monday #3) morning.

As you might imagine, any sort of setback at this point is pretty frustrating because we NEED that steady progress to happen in order to go home, so B and I hit the ground running this morning with the attitude of “What can we do to turn this around (and no offense to the nice folks of Children’s, but…) to get the heck out of here?!” Thankfully some of those nice folks are very much on the same wavelength as us and so a new approach was hatched.

Starting tonight we will not be sleeping at the Rainbow House. Instead, we’ll be here in the room with Wilson for the next 48 hours, breastfeeding around the clock (instead of the bottle feeds that had been happening overnight) in hopes that that is what it takes to get enough in her system so we can meet those benchmarks that actually get us out the door. So, essentially, we are going to do a normal newborn schedule in the most not-normal environment and pray that it works (and works well)!

Hence the feather. img_8132

Confused? Let me do my best to explain…

Remember the Tembo post and Wilson’s animal connection to the elephant? But also how she had previously been tagged as a bird because of all the feathers I saw during pregnancy?

After I shared that post, a friend wrote to me about the symbiotic relationship between elephants and birds which I had forgotten about until she brought it up, but as soon as she did, my brain instantly clicked to the thought: allllllll of those feathers I saw were still signs, just not for the baby, but for her helpers (Still with me? I promise, this does all make sense). Remember in Dumbo how he uses the feather to boost his confidence enough to “fly” for the circus act? That feather was his helper and all of you have been Willa’s (as well as our) feathers in the last three weeks, helping us navigate as best we could through our family’s biggest time of challenge and need.

Seriously. We could not have made it this far without your love, prayers, messages, meals, rides, letters, gifts, and all the other goodness you have sent our way.

And now we are calling on our feather-helpers for what we hope is one last big push to get over the hump with feeding so we can go home to do actual newborn things in an actual normal environment because that would truly be the greatest blessing of all. Please keep those hearts and prayers lifted, your fingers and toes crossed, and all the good vibes coming because our Little Miss is so, so ready to fly.