Eleven years ago this week I sat in the NICU and watched the monitors.

I was never really sure exactly what all the numbers on the screens meant or understood the constant beeping or the lines that went up and down….scrolling and rescrolling and then scrolling again.

I never really understood any of it.

But that didn’t matter.

Because I knew….that I knew….that I knew.

I knew if I sat and just watched those screens…..

….if I sat in that still, dark room with the lights of the monitors blinking in the darkness….and kept an ever-present watch.

Nothing bad could possibly happen.


I watched because the doctors said the list of the bad things that could happen was endless.

They were twins.

They were born almost three months early.

They only weighed two pounds and some change.

And the doctors talked to us in soft low tones with voices that said, “Brace yourself.”

And “Prepare.”

And “The road ahead is perilous and winding and full of steep cliffs and dark valleys and a long treacherous journey.”

And they bandied about words like kidney issues and brain bleeds and vision problems and on and on and on….

….until I wanted to scream.


I wanted to scream from the frustration and worry and the pressure and the feeling like my heart was breaking in two and all the scary, frightening unknowns.

But I couldn’t.

I was supposed to be strong and courageous and patient and full of faith.

But I wasn’t.

And so I sat.

And watched the numbers and the monitors and the oxygen stats and the endless beeping…..

….and silently screamed in my head.

Twins-hydrangeaAnd then one day…something wonderful happened.

Something incredible.

As the nurse and I sat silently together in the NICU unit….one of the twins slowly raised her leg into the air and swirled it around.

Then she lowered it.

And raised it and swirled it again.

And in that moment….in that brief flash of a second….it felt like that tiny two-pound girl fighting for her life…..

….was trying to dance.


She didn’t know the odds.

She didn’t know about the beeping and monitors and the possible complications and the long journey ahead.

She didn’t listen.

She didn’t worry or fret or care.

She just danced.


They never looked back….those two dancers of mine.

They called them the “baby ballerinas” of the NICU.

The nurses cheered and encouraged and made these signs to hang on their incubators.

And week after week passed…..bringing improvement after improvement.

Each day they grew stronger….and bigger and bigger and breathed on their own and yawned and stretched and opened their eyes.

Until one day they defied all the odds and came home….

…dancing every step of the way. 🙂

Happy birthday my wonderful incredible ballerinas. 

I love you.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Sandy Sandy

    What a wonderful heart touching story. You have me in tears, so I read the story to my husband, and now we both are in tears. You have two beautiful daughters.....Thanks for sharing and Happy Birthday to them.

  2. Image for Diana W. Diana W.

    I am a Labor and Delivery RN and worked at a High Risk OB unit for almost 8 years. It's a joyous job for the most part, the other parts are very dark and painful for the patients (and to a much smaller extent - us, the staff). I always thought that I connected with my patients, that we bonded. Yet the special bond we may have shared is NOTHING to what the wonder staff upstairs formed. The ladies and gents of the NICU are so fabulous. Words fail to express my thanks to so many of those wonderful people. They are with the babies for so very long and become so close to the parents. I'm so glad that your babies are alive, well and so gorgeous. You expressed what so many of my patients faces told me for so many years. I can't imagine what you went through, and am so glad that you had caring nurses to help you through. Bless you and those gorgeous girls!

  3. Image for andrea cammarata andrea cammarata

    Tears are flowing but my heart is fact it is dancing for all of you. Happy Birthday to your "tiny dancers" that is the song that is playing over and over in my head. The world holds so many joys for them and I can tell you one thing...their parents are their biggest joy : ) hugs...

  4. Image for Cristina Cristina

    It's amazing that they did those pretty signs & wonderful that you kept them. Are they taking dancing lessons? I was also born premature (not so much thou) & at home in a no traffic light village. I guess my boankets were my incubator Congratulations.

  5. Image for Lisa Lisa

    **Happy, happy birthday to your beautiful ballerinas!** Isn't it precious what the Lord will do even when all we can find deep, deep inside our hurt, fear and frustration... is faith the size of a mere mustard seed? Have a blessed year sweet family! :-)

  6. Image for Sally Sally

    What a sweet story. Love that fierce-mama watchfulness. Love the ballerina babies! They look just like their mama! xo Celebrate today! =)

  7. Image for Pam Pam

    Tears in my coffee today! Tears of joy as you celebrate the lives of your beautiful ballerinas. Happy Birthday girls. I hope you know your Momma is truly a treasure.

  8. Image for Amber @ Black Rooster Cottage Amber @ Black Rooster Cottage

    Your Ballerina Babies are beautiful! KariAnne, I relate with you and this story more than you know! Twins. Preemies. NICU for 3 months. {Heart Surgery}.... Yep, I KNOW all too well, that emotional rollercoaster. My boys are 5 (born during Memorial weekend-go figure!) and they are full of life. Happy Birthday to the girls! p.s. I always do something for myself on their birthday too. Low key and simple like getting a Starbucks and sitting somewhere and thinking about the day they were born. Life is pretty amazing. Sometimes it hurts like hell but the blessings are far greater and enough to pull us through. Happy Birth-day KariAnne, you did good!

  9. Image for Andrea Andrea

    Happy birthday to your lovely children. As a child who 57 years ago defied the odds and as a pastor I dance around with you this day. Be good to yourselves and celebrate each day. Dance wherever and whenever you can

  10. Image for judy judy

    What an inspiring and honest post! My heart rejoices with you today. Happy Birthday to two adorable(then and now) ballerinas!

  11. Image for Anne Presley Anne Presley

    Amazing God we worship and adore and His miracles continue to astound us. I am crying as I write and relive those very precious days when we didn't know beauty except as tiny skin and bones but did know that they were fighters. We prayed and loved and they fought and God won. I love you and I soooo love them. Hugs and kisses all around Beautiful.

  12. Image for Nicole Shah Nicole Shah

    What an inspirational story to start the day off and to be reminded how precious life is... Your twins are beautiful and can only imagine what lies ahead of them in their future! Enjoy their birthday with them KariAnne as it's your day of celebration as well:)

  13. Image for Martha Martha

    Beautiful...inspiring....touching......what a lovely story and what lovely ballerina's you have. My granddaughter spent weeks in NICU and a first year with lots of surgeries. When I watch her dance and sing and laugh and play now that she is 3, I am so thankful !!!!

  14. Image for bj bj

    Holy are such an awesome writer and your dancin' girls are so beautiful. I really got carried away with this story with it's amazing outcome.....never mind about the Apple French Toast I stole from you and your mother and posted about seems very uneventful compared to THIS beautiful story.... OOO, and HAPPIEST BIRTHDAY TO THE GIRLS.

  15. Image for Beverly Beverly

    I could tell you I am crying tears of joy and Thanksgiving, but the accurate description would be sobbing. Oh, how we love our babies, and how we love our God. And, I love you, too, KariAnne. Give your little champions an extra hug from me.

  16. Image for Roberta Roberta

    There you go again...reducing me to a puddle of whimpers and sobs, only to slowly put me back together, patch up my heart and send me back out in the world a better person for having shared your truth...your life...your love. We have a "miracle" child in our midst as nephew Brian.Born at 2lbs...down to 1.5...and the prognosis was bleak...they prepared my sister for the worst...but he defied the odds...thrashing about the incubator...pulling all his IVs out and fighting for his life.Brian is 42 years young...with two beautiful girls of his own...and is the son I was never able to have.He, like your girls...represents the power of knowing in your heart what the world would explain away! Aren't we incredibly blessed....I never miss an opportunity to tell my nephew how proud I am of him and what an amazingly devoted single Dad he is...our gift from God! I truly love visiting with you....Bless you xoxo

  17. Image for Lisa Montgomery Lisa Montgomery

    Sandy, What a beautiful, moving tale of life, its struggles and overcoming. So well written because it was truly written with your heart! Enjoy your precious girls. They are lucky to have you for their mother. Lisa

  18. Image for Filona Filona

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. Good things do come in small packages! Keep dancing and have a wonderful birthday girls!

  19. Image for susan susan

    Thank you for such a beautiful story! And a big Happy Birthday to your daughters...God bless them and your wonderful family...

  20. Image for Jan Jan

    Well, now you've gone and done made me cry. :) Seriously, God is so good! What a blessing your twins are.

  21. Image for Donna Donna

    Karianne ... I know you really feel the blessings of your beautiful girls today . Your thoughts and words were extraordinary . I am the lucky mom of 19 year old twins and I have been a respiratory therapist in a NICU for more than 20 years . The NICU roller coaster is such a difficult challenge but the rewards can be enormous . All the best to you and your family and Happy Birthday to the ballerinas !

  22. Image for Babette Babette

    Beautiful story! Thank you so much Karianne for sharing that! My twins were on heart monitors at first when they were born, but they were very healthy. So I was blessed. It doesn't take away the worry or the feeling of helplessness, but God is there with us through it all. I am so glad that your beautiful twins are celebrating today. Happy Birthday to the girls!!!

  23. Image for Jen W. Jen W.

    Congratulations and happy birthday to your girls! Way to defy odds and dance on! Confession: I'm reading this as my students are taking an exam and I really hope that they don't notice that I'm seconds from tearing up! Keep on dancin' girls!

  24. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    Seriously, you need to write for a living. You have a gift! I have a hard time writing a paragraph! Happy Birthday to the Ballerinas!

  25. Image for Anna @ A Good Home Anna @ A Good Home

    You've made me cry again! Happy birthday to your beautiful girls :) Being a mama is so hard and wonderful and terrifying and joyful all at once, isn't it? I know everyone says that, but it doesn't get any less true for all the repetition.

  26. Image for Betsy(@coastal-colors) Betsy(@coastal-colors)

    Your story is so touching! I can only imagine how you must have felt! You're a shining example of God's love! You share your gift of storytelling everyday with us! Your "Baby Ballerinas" are adorable and so blessed to have you as their mom! Happy Birthday!!!

  27. Image for Susan Susan

    In a couple of weeks, I will remember my experience in labor with our daughter Kelly who was born 6 weeks premature due to an automobile accident we were involved in. The staff at the hospital was excellent and although, she weighed only 3 lbs. 13oz, she was perfect. Happy Birthday to your miracles and sweet dancers, XOXO

  28. Image for Marty Walden Marty Walden

    Thank you for always encouraging your readers through your life and your story. Today is one day that just feels heavy and full of despair as we raise our two adopted teenagers. The task feels impossible. I know it isn't but the weight of it is still the same. Thank you for reminding me of my blessings. Love you, girl!

  29. Image for Norma Jean Norma Jean

    Karieanne, you have been gifted in amazing ways! I know that God is using those gifts to touch hearts and lives with the truths and beauty of your words and creativity. It is a joy to see your beautiful, healthy daughters today. Thank you for sharing your home, your family and your heart with us. I look forward each day to discovering what new "treasure" awaits me from Thistlewood Farm!

  30. Image for amy watson amy watson

    ♫♫♫ Happy Birthday♫♫♫ To 2 of the most beautiful little dancers, who happen to look just like their beautiful Mother, We do serve an AMAZING GOD and to hear your story it reaffirms what I have always known. It is ALL Gods plan...whatever the outcome and I truly believe that the love a mother has for her children....that unconditional...No one but another mother KNOWS, that feeling, and that your love and your will for them to be Ok and Gods plan for them to be ok is why they are as beautiful and healthy as they are today, I think a Mothers love for her children is God like......the way he loves us and never gives up on us, I know your girls will dance and dance and dance afterall.... Their mother is a ROCK STAR :)

  31. Image for SuzyMcQ SuzyMcQ

    Happy, happy day to your beautiful girls, and, to you too, mom! May it be one filled with love and happiness and good, good times!

  32. Image for Gwen Gwen

    I truly felt this tender closeness by this very personal story. My 1lb12oz niece was born when I was four to my sister who is much older. Had been through college, married, and came her firstborn in 1960 also three months early. But she was not airlifted away from the small hospital. The push then was give more oxygen and this wise doctor let my niece lead the way for when she could breathe, no more oxygen. It's what saved her from other complications the big hospitals were discovering. She did have vision problems but not so severe she was blind. She wears contacts and put herself through college with help from mom and dad and got her masters work with young children with learning difficulties. She's been happily married for over twenty something years and her GIRLS even danced in dance class. No early births for any of her three. I guess I want to say, your girls are eleven today but the future is also bright! How I loved my niece. I was little. So I didn't understand it all but we got to help train her eyes by going outside with her and swinging and my sister and I would have her toddle back and forth to us. Then as she grew it was fun to be an Auntie to someone nearly my age!!! I'm so very very happy glad praising God for His huge gift of growing your girls And if I could I'd send a big happy birthday card made at my table and send it with a whole bunch of stamps. Saying: 11 Finally you've reached the official twins birthday. Each of you standing tall, side by side, so equal, so alike,the big 11 BUT....(open) Everyone knows 1+1=2 so that means double the wishes, double the gifts, double cakes and TWO HUGE WISHES FOR A GREAT YEAR TO EACH OF YOU!!! Happy Birthday! The JOY of The Lord is your strength ! Love, Mrs. Condit Ps. My dad's first cousin was one of the first designer and artists for Hallmark. When I sat to do your card it just flowed from my heart. It just is that way. So that's a GMC original by me made just for YOU!

  33. Image for Cara Cara

    One of our beautiful granddaughters was born 2 month premature. The neo doctor took one look at her and said, "I don't think we can save her." She spent only one month in NICU where they called her "the miracle baby" because she improved so quickly. She spent a lot of her time in NICU with her leg propped up on the side of her bed! Maybe warming up to dance? Today as a delightful 7 year-old, she dances and she jumps and she hops and she bounces! She rarely just walks! God is good!

  34. Image for Marilyn Marilyn

    You have written such a gorgeous, beautiful love letter to your girls. Your writing is so vivid and true, that I felt as if I were sitting next to you, also watching those monitors. Wishing your twin miracles a joyous birthday! Marilyn (in Dallas)

  35. Image for Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces

    What a beautiful story, Karianne! Happy birthday to your lovely girls!! One of my sons was 9 weeks premature...I can't imagine how scary 3 months would have been! He and his wife are expecting their second child any time...and wouldn't you know it...she's late! Thank you for the smiles this morning!

  36. Image for Karen Karen

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful story about your beautiful girls. How sweet that you kept the signs the nurses made. My cousin went through the same thing with her twins. I just saw them last week and they are two healthy and happy ninth graders!

  37. Image for Jeannie Jeannie

    Karianne, you always kept me on the edge of my seat, even though I know that the twins are still dancing. It is very difficult when your babies have problems, but God will always get you through. What beautiful girls, and I'm sure they have kept you very busy for the last eleven years. Happy Birthday to the twins. Hope you have a beautiful day. Jeannie

  38. Image for Suzi Suzi

    oh, this made me cry sweet tears! what a beautiful beginning. our heavenly father has been impressing me all summer about the importance of little girls (and us big ones, too) having the freedom to joyously dance before an adoring daddy and your sweet girls knew that truth from the very beginning of their teeny tiny lives! oh joy!! and i am dancing today, too, because i am celebrating our little granlove's first birthday and, like your precious ones, our little guy went against all the odds and defied reason! dancing with joy in the amazing gifts God has given us both today!

  39. Image for Tamra B Tamra B

    What a sweet have such a gift for storytelling. As much as those sweet baby girls are a blessing to you, YOU are a blessing to them! Have a wonderful day with your family.

  40. Image for Peggy Peggy

    This is the sweetest most well written post I've read in awhile. So full of Faith, Hope and Joy and the greatest of all Love! Happy Birthday Ballerinas! Teach the world to Dance and Rejoice!!!! Blessings!

  41. Image for Sherry G Sherry G

    I, too, am a mother of preemies. I had a 24 weeker and a 34 weeker and spent many hours in the NICU staring at monitors. Your story this morning brought back so many memories. You are not only talented in your decorating but are talented in how you write words. This was a beautiful story about two beautiful girls who are fighters. I wish them the very best birthday and hope they always dance through life. Thanks for sharing!!

  42. Image for Karen Stewart Karen Stewart

    My son was born at 29 weeks. I know the exact feelings you described. Brain bleeds??? etc. SCARY! Me,my husband and our 2 daughters leaving to go out to eat and leaving my precious baby boy by himself at the NICU. He will be 6 on Oct. 13th and very healthy!!! Love your blog!!!

  43. Image for GinaE GinaE

    Karianne, you are a master story teller. Your writing really pulls the reader in. I love your decorating without question, but I am loving your stories like this even more. You are so talented in so many ways.

  44. Image for Regina Regina

    Happy birthday to the twin ballerinas, and happy BIRTHING day to YOU! This is a precious story - and I'm sure it's prominent in the annals of your family stories! Bless you, Sweet Lady!

  45. Image for Cynthia Cynthia

    Ok this brought tears to my eyes, big time!!! I am so glad that everything worked out and they are beautiful little girls and Happy Birthday to them!! My nephew was born very early and was so tiny no one thought he would make it. He fought and his parents fought for him and he is grown, married, teaching and has a beautiful baby of his own now. Cynthia

  46. Image for Lois Lois

    I would like to tell you how utterly heartwarming this story is but I first have to get another box of tissues! Young Ladies you rock - keep dancing!

  47. Image for Merri Jo Merri Jo

    I was on my computer designing a sign ("I love you to the moon & back") for my first-born grandson, so when I clicked over to read your post, I was primed for some 'salt-water therapy'. I am now bathed in tears and my heart is so full--the profound and poignant miracle of love that God shapes with each newborn baby never ceases to take my breath away! Thank you for sharing the story of your miraculous little ballerinas.... Happy birthday to your darling girls!

  48. Image for chrissi chrissi

    happiest birthday wishes to your two beauties. they are darling. your story? your photos? melt my heart. may your girls continue to dance through life♥

  49. Image for Soiledrotten Soiledrotten

    KariAnne....That just made my heart melt and eyes tearful. No one can ever know what you felt during that time of unknown health of your girls...You feel alone, helpless, and ready to pray. God has blessed you with these two beautiful girls and am thankful for you sharing this story. (I struggled through something similar and still am not strong enough to blog about it) Happy Birthday to your angels. Alison

  50. Image for Andrea Andrea

    Oh, Kari, I love this post! Such a sweet tribute to your tiny dancers. My best friends son was born at 23 weeks....1 lb, 1 oz....can you imagine?? He's now 7, and yes, has many of those issues you listed. What the Dr didn't tell her, though, was that he'd grow into one of the sweetest and smartest little boys you could meet.

  51. Image for Jodi Jackson Jodi Jackson

    Thank you for you story. My daughter is in the hospital and was in PICU for almost two weeks. I feel the same way, as if I stared st the monitors and didn't leave, nothing would get worse.

  52. Image for Christie Christie

    Becoming/Being a mom is the most incredible experience yet scary at the same time too. We always just assume that our children will enter this world with no problems. How heart breaking when that belief fails us. Experiences like yours make you stronger and your story makes us all stronger. We all, I think, would do anything to keep our children healthy, safe and happy. The gift of life is an amazing thing and I am happy that your story is a success story :) Happy Birthday Twins!

  53. Image for Judy Judy

    Kerrianne, what an uplifting story and outcome. They are beautiful little birthday girls and now almost grown. I'm so glad you all could, and still, dance!..Happy Thursday..Judy

  54. Image for Colleen P Colleen P

    Yay!!! Love that story and the black and white picture is sooo cute of the two of them. Life certainly throws us all curve balls now and precious and fortunate to overcome them! Happy Birthday to your sweet girls!

  55. Image for Linda Linda

    Praise God , and Happy Birthday. God stamped your life on His Heart before you were in the womb. God touched your lives at a such a young and tender life. As you look into each other's eyes, you will see the Reflection of God's Love. What a miracle for all to know we serve a Mighty God! Oct. is the month two of my great-grandbabies went to Heaven. 2009 Riley and 2011 Nichole In Heaven I will be able to see them for the first time and hold them in my arms.

  56. Image for Cathy Johnson Cathy Johnson

    What a wonderful story! We just found out that my daughter is pregnant with TWINS, IDENTICAL TWINS. This is the first grandchildren on both sides and we are beyond excited. I love all of your twin ballerina dancing stories, please keep them coming. And any helpful hints on how to handle twin babies would be greatly appreciated. I look forward to many similar wonderful stories of our own in the near future!!

  57. Image for Debbie Debbie

    Happy Birthday to your beautiful ballerinas! I've sat in NICU watching those monitors, for our grandson who was a premmie. I feel what you went through. And I'm so happy your story had such a happy ending. Debbie :)

  58. Image for Danielle Danielle

    Oh, Karianne, beautiful heartfelt post. I can't imagine what a scary time that must have been. I know you are so proud of your little ballerinas. I couldn't help but think of my mom when I read this. I also came three months early and weighed two pounds - I spent three months in the hospital. Once home, my mom used to have to buy doll clothes to put on me because they didn't have premie clothes in the 70s.

  59. Image for Gayle Gayle

    Of all your many stories, this is by far the best. Happy birthdaybtonyour beautiful girls. I had twin boys before nic-u's were around. I lost them but I know that they are waiting for me in heaven:)

  60. Image for Karen Ploransky @ The Decorated Nest Karen Ploransky @ The Decorated Nest

    Happy Birthday to you Miracle Girls! we have a miracle girl in our family too! Morgan (my niece) is a beautiful, healthy, 21 year old college girl who started this life at 1 lb 2 0z! Its such a scary experience! but what a gift it is to watch a miracle unfold. God Bless your girls with long, happy and healthy lives filled with joy!

  61. Image for Sue Sue

    Happy Birthday girls!! WOW - What a story. As I was reading, I was thinking back to when my first born arrived on Mother's Day! She weighted 4lb 9ozs. Was full term and very sick. I spent many hours in the NICU in Philly, PA. Also watching those monitors too. She spent 26 days in CHOP. Today she is 35 years old and handicapped but happy as can be. I couldn't live without her. Give your girls a hug and hug yourself too from us. Thanks for sharing such a personal experience.

  62. Image for ZoeAnn ZoeAnn

    Oh Karianne; HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your beautiful, God Blessed daughters!! Thanks for sharing your story and bringing us a tad bit closer to Thistlewood Farm.

  63. Image for Audrey Zumwalt Audrey Zumwalt

    Love the story KariAnne ... what a blessing for you and the beautiful girls too. They are just prescious and I know they have a heart of gold like their Mom. You are blessed ... Happy Birthday to you and the dancers. Blessings, Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

  64. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    Wow. My eyes ar.e blurry with tears......if they didn't already know how much you love them, surely they understand now. Blessings come in very small packages, sometimes! God is good all the time......and all the time, God is good. Your faith and determination and fierce love was rewarded. It is easy to see why you're such an amazing Mother. Happy Birthday to your favorite ballerinas, and a Happy Amazing Birth Day, to you, Miz karianne.

  65. Image for Lisa W. Lisa W. words. But my heart is full. What a beautiful story with a very happy ending...Happy Birthday beautiful girls!!!!!!!!!

  66. Image for Sandy Sandy

    Happy, happy birthday to your 2 beautiful dancers! What a heartwarming story and I love the photographs of them! I even got to see them a few posts back when they were demonstrating the motion lights in your laundry room. What a miracle! What a fabulous staff in NICU and what a wonderful mom your are!

  67. Image for Zolane Zolane

    Happy belated birthday to your beautiful little dancers. So moving and what an incredible story. Makes my heart overflow with joy for all of you! So thankful that miracles still happen.

  68. Image for Deborah Wilkins Deborah Wilkins

    Happy birthday to your beautiful girls! I share your experience in that I am the mother of twin boys who were born two months early. They will turn 27 on December 28 and have done well thanks to a wonderful neonatologist and the nursing staff. Warmest wishes to you and your family.

  69. Image for Marsha Marsha

    I started reading your blog a couple months ago. I'm a home bound wife and mother of a beautiful 17 year old daughter. I just have to tell you, you're blog is so lovely. It makes me smile, my heartbeat a little faster, tears form, you just are so excellent at expressing yourself. I feel like I know you. Thank you, for opening your heart to all. Beautiful story. Marsha

Comments are closed.