story blocks

During the closet re-organization project of 2015, I found a picture of one of the twins taken the day she was born.

When I saw it, I stopped what I was doing and put down the boxes of random bits of things that always seem to collect themselves in a closet and the fluffy hat with ruffles that I bought for my first Kentucky Derby party….

….and simply stared at the photo.

There she was.

Tiny and precious and beautiful and hooked up to a million tubes and machines and beeping gadgets wearing a tiny pink bow the nurses made for her on her wisps of downy blonde hair.

Weighing in at 2.2 pounds… little my hand almost covered her in the picture.

how to tell a story

You see, those amazing, incredible, wonderful twins of mine were born almost three months early.

The pregnancy was a challenging one and I had been in the hospital for almost a month on bed rest.  After the twins were born, the morning the picture was taken, the doctors had been full of overwhelming information about what could happen and what might happen and chances of survival and big words and conditions and percentages that made my head spin.

After they left, I remember sitting in a chair and staring at the monitors and the beeping and those two tiny pink bows….

….and praying and rocking back and forth with tears streaming down my face.

What would the future hold?

What would tomorrow bring?

And way deep down in my heart, in the place that holds the darkest fears….

….I wondered if they were going to beat the odds.


Day after day.

Night after night.

Week after week, I sat in that NICU.

I sat through tests and screenings and listened to tiny gurgles and hiccups and yawns and stretches and watched those monitors beep over and over and over again.

I would perch on the edge of a special rocking chair between the incubators and watch and wait as the days and hours passed.  I knew all the nurses by name.  I knew how much they loved their little patients and how much they cared.   I became friends with other parents in the NICU and listened to their stories and shared some of mine.  We became almost a family, bound together by circumstances, encouraging and cheering and crying together over the defeats….

…..and rejoicing in each small victory.

tell a story

And the greatest of victories was the simple “rooming in” paper taped to a door at the end of the hall.

That paper was cause for celebration.

It meant that someone was finally going home.

When a family was about to leave the NICU and return home, the nurses would set up a special room for the parents….to allow them to take care of the baby under nurse supervision, just to make sure they understood all the medication schedules and breathing treatments and special care for a tiny premature infant.  You always knew a family was rooming in when you saw the sign on the door.

One by one, I watched as the other families from the NICU roomed-in.  I would sit by the window and sigh to myself as they walked by.  Happy for them, but full of a joy that was bittersweet.

They were leaving.

We were staying.

linking story blocks

Weeks and weeks went by.

Weeks full of two steps forward, one step back.

Weeks of rocking and hoping and worrying and praying.

Weeks of staring at those beeping monitors, over and over and over again.

But those two tiny dancers were fighters.  Just when I had almost given up hope they fought and fought and overcame so much and grew bigger and stronger….

…until they beat the odds.

most important paper

And one day I walked down the long hallway to the NICU and saw it.

There it was.

That simple, plain piece of white paper worth more than its weight in gold.

Our sign.

Just for us.

Because finally, wonderfully, joyfully…..

….those two tiny pink bows were going home. 🙂

Fall (5)

PS  These are the story blocks from when the twins were younger.

I used to make up stories about princesses and castles and dancers and cats and butterflies.

And every story ended the same…..and they all lived happily ever after. 

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Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Rachel @ Architecture of a Mom Rachel @ Architecture of a Mom

    KariAnne, you just told my story...with 2 little pink bows in the NICU. We are two totally blessed mamas who each have twin girls who beat the odds!! Thanks for the smile and the reminder this Monday morning that we have made it through a very rough time. Love your writing.

  2. Image for Alice Alice

    KariAnne, You are a blessed woman, both with your daughters and your incredible gift of story telling. I look forward to finding you in my mailbox every morning. So on a no good, rotten, down in the dumps day, please remember that and let my appreciation lift you up for a change!

  3. Image for Pamela Pamela

    Praising God for your sweet daughters! It will give me pause to thank Him each time I see them in your blog. Baby girls are usually stronger & better "fighters" than baby boys, but parents everywhere know God held their sweet boys & girls close as they fought to grow up in the world He gave them to. Thank you for reminding us today of the miracle of each birth!

  4. Image for Amy W. Amy W.

    Awwwwwwww.....your words bring about such a cozy warmth to life. Thank-you for sharing your wonderful story with us. You and your husband have made one Beautiful Family!

  5. Image for Heather C Heather C

    You've made me realize how truely blessed we are waiting for our twins to be born to my son and daughter-in-law. This week they will be born, I've always enjoyed your stories about your family and this morning was especially poignant.

  6. Image for Shirley@housepitalitydesigns Shirley@housepitalitydesigns

    Oh KariAnne...this has to be one of my favorite posts....who would have thought that the beautiful and healthy twins with the eyes that twinkle like their dad's were brought into this world so soon and they persevered and reined victoriously....I am sure that this will be the same in their lives...that they are fighters and "dancers"....the world at their feet!....and you too....for fighting along with them, giving them the encouragement.

  7. Image for Lydia Lydia

    KariAnne like it or not, sight unseen, you are one of my best friends. I needed to hear from you this morning as it has been a difficult weekend... This was the perfect uplifting post . Loveyou my Friend

  8. Image for Mercy Mercy

    KariAnne-- What an amazing story, and the blocks are so lovely! You are so blessed with your daughters. It's so wonderful that it turned out well. I love your blog, mostly because you're so down to earth. Keep up the lovely thoughts! Mercy

  9. Image for Michele Michele

    Bravo and Praise Be to God Above for this miracle of miracles! This is an amazing story and so beautifully told, KA! Big hugs to you and your lovely family!

  10. Image for Judi Judi

    KariAnne, Thank you for sharing your sweet story. Our oldest granddaughter was born three months early as well, weighing in at 1 pound 12 ounces. My daughters water broke at 25 weeks but the doctors were able to keep the "bun in the oven" for two more weeks (without amniotic fluid) before having to deliver via emergency c-section. At the time I lived four hours away from my daughter, and could only visit on weekends. On one of those visits, before she was born, my daughter and I heard a baby cry, after we determined that there had been no births nearby, we realized it was our girl whom we heard from deep within mommy' tummy. It's a precious memory. I kept two of the tiniest diapers I have ever seen (that were big on her) as a reminder for us all, of how far she has come and how very blessed we are. She is now a thriving 10 year old with no health issues and sharp as a tack. My daughter chose to name her Destinie, I cannot wait to see where her journey takes her, as I believe she is destined for greatness!

  11. Image for Leslie Harrah Leslie Harrah

    My twin girls just turned 32 on the 7th of March, and reading today's blog moved me to years... It truly recounted my "Journey" of 5 weeks in bed, yet still, despite all of my efforts, two determined little girls were born 10 weeks premature at 2lbs 10oz and 2lbs 6oz! All very touch and go, 50% chance of survival that first night...but through it all - even with neonatal medicine what it was 30+ years ago - my babies ended up with no issues as adults. They caught up to other kids by their second birthday and as they say, we never looked back! But what a frightening time for our new little family. Love reading about yours each day...

  12. Image for Suzann Suzann

    KariAnne thank you for sharing your story, it brought tears to my eyes. I've never replied to your post before but today I just felt compelled to do so. I get so excited when I open my emails and see one from 'Thistlewood Farms' its always the first one I read :) love you.

  13. Image for Chritstine Chritstine

    Karianne, Precious life... GOD bless! My daughter was so fortunate to have her twins go full,term each weighing 7 pounds but we knew all along all the bad things that could happen. I prayed and prayed and just thanked God again for all our blessings. Your daughters are beautiful young ladies with wonderful parents. You have a lovely family. PS our grandtwins are 7 months old now. Xox

  14. Image for Norma Jean Norma Jean

    Two handsome sons, two beautiful twin daughters! You are truly blessed my friend. So glad your stories ALL have happily ever-after endings!!

  15. Image for KimberlyAnne KimberlyAnne

    KariAnne - What a lovely story about your beautiful babies! Those story blocks ... I believe you should start making and selling those. Absolutely adorable. I did a brief search online and could not find anything like them. I would be your first customer.

  16. Image for Dianne Bell in Michigan Dianne Bell in Michigan

    KariAnne, Thank you for sharing your Beautiful, happily ever after story of your precious twins. When my dear Mom, who is now gone, had my twin sisters, she and my Dad went through A similar experience with them. Lots of love & prayers got them through and my sisters are perfect and wonderful- and I'm so grateful they're my sisters/friends. God bless your twins. Have a lovely day.

  17. Image for Debrah Nash Debrah Nash

    Karianne, thank you for relating your journey. My youngest daughter is a NICU nurse who has the privilege of caring for those wee ones like your daughters. She chose this through a God orchestrated appointment and has found her life calling! You see, she was raised in a Pastor's home and learned what ministry and service were and knew her heart's calling lay somewhere out there. She will often call and ask for prayer for a "special" wee one and their family and tells of the heartbreak and the joys. She has remained in touch with some of those families from over 10 years ago when she was a newbie in the NICU. I happen to think that all nurses are angels but I must admit the NICU holds a special place in our hearts because of the connections through couples we have ministered to in the NICU and our daughter! You have brought to the forefront once again what these special nurses life calling affords. I'm so happy your story has a happy ending! Blessings to you and your pixies!!!

  18. Image for Susan Sosebee Susan Sosebee

    I always read your blog but have never commented before, not because I don't enjoy reading them, but today's is very special. It brings so much hope with the story. Thank you. I'm sure you will give hope to many because you are willing to share and make yourself vulnerable. God Bless You.

  19. Image for Linda Linda

    So very glad you had a happy ending! You have such a beautiful family and it is so lovely to read your stories and see how much you all cherish each other and your happy busy life together. I never can get enough Karianne stories!! Bless you all! Linda

  20. Image for Toni Toni

    I agree with several others, that I totally look forward to reading your posts each day. They are honest, lighthearted, sometimes so funny and at other times, so thoughtful, meaningful and uplifting! I loved this one of reflection on the journey you have been on with your daughters. A heart of gratitude is such a beautiful thing.

  21. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    Awwww, what a blessing that was to "find" that picture. Just when you really needed it, I'll bet, even when everything is going okay. Precious reminders of God's Love and Grace. A perfect "Spring break" moment!

  22. Image for Debbie Esparza Debbie Esparza

    Kari: You are such a gifted writer...I could read on and on. I love the sweet story blocks, what a great idea! Your babies are such a precious gift, may they grow to be gracious and beautiful like their mama.

  23. Image for Deborah Wilkins Deborah Wilkins

    I can relate, KariAnne! My twin sons were 8.5 weeks early and in the NICU for two weeks. They turned 28 on Sunday, December 28 - the exact day of the week they were born. They are finished with college and on their own now but I remember like it was yesterday the day they were born. One is in Paris right now and I worry about him every day. Some things never change........ Enjoy them - we are twice blessed! Deborah

  24. Image for Laura Laura

    Cara KariAnne, The fact of watching mothers walking out with their little babies wrapped in layers of blankets, gave us hope to be someday one of them. For those who did not get the chance to be roomed in, and walked the endless hallway with a bag and empty handed, there were two possible paths: eternal bitterness and resentment or; the acceptance of terrible pain, and live to provide that so immense love that was generated inside of us. We have chosen the second path, and that feeling of “nowhere to land love” found recipient in wonderful nephews, godchildren and those children that nobody has come for. I love your blog, I believe that any creating moment is highly therapeutic. I also loved your posting; happy endings are also part of the healing process. God bless you, and your family. Laura (PS: this is my first reply ever, i am Italian, then not native English speaker, and sometimes I may have some (huge!) wording mistakes, my apologies for that).

  25. Image for Kathy Kathy

    I read this just now and it took me back 21 years ago to my own little precious boy born 3 months early. I, too, was on bedrest for a month wondering how I was going to keep my sanity until his due date. I went into labor and was flown by helicopter to Roanoke, VA to a great hospital and lay for 2 more days. I finally went into full blown labor even though they said I wasn't (we later found out the machine I was hooked up on was not working properly). I was rushed into the delivery room and 5 minutes later my son was born weighing 2.3 ounces. We also spent a long time with him there going through the same things and doing the rooming in night. I was a nervous wreck thinking he would stop breathing. At the time they would count down 10 days from his last "episode" of stopping breathing until they would discharge him and we went through plenty of countdowns! Long story short, he turns 21 this July and is to be married this May. I am truly blessed to have him with nothing major wrong that couldn't be easily fixed. It still seems like yesterday.

  26. Image for Sheila Sheila

    I didn't have twins but I can certainly relate to your story today. My daughter was born 4 months early, weighing in at 1 lb. 1 oz. She was extremely small and we spent several months in the NICU with her. Our going home time was the most exciting moment of my life. I will never forget it. She just turned 19 and is all grown up now. I thought the time in the NICU and wondering if she was going to make it was the hardest thing ever but I soon realized you never quit worrying about them or over protecting them. That's why I am now almost white headed. Furthermore, I know now that them reaching driving age is WAY scarier than just about anything!! Hehehe.

  27. Image for Jane Jane

    I just don't know what to say, and those girls had/have incredible strength. You wrote about this time in your life in such a way that I had chills going up and down my spine. And the gorgeous picture of those sweet daughters of yours at the end. Sniff! Both of my daughter were born a month early...5 pounds each. I could never figure out why. But they were perfectly healthy and we didn't go through anything near what you and your husband did. It makes you stronger though, doesn't it? Love and hugs to all of you! Jane xx

  28. Image for Wendy Wendy

    Thank You for sharing that tender story! When I saw the pic with their straw hats on I cried! I also watched your videos on "Unfolding of You" which was a blessing! I finally heard your voice!!! Which reminds me of how awesome it is to KNOW Our Lords voice! Your blog is by far my FAV! Blessings to you! Wen

  29. Image for Janet Janet

    You were holding the picture! Why didn't you share it? Of course we would love to ooh and ahh over the tiny baby who beat the odds. My baby didn't beat the odds. He was born almost 3 months early as well. He was stillborn. We don't know why. That was our first boy, following 4 girls.

  30. Image for Rhonda Rhonda

    Thanks for sharing! I, too, remember those days. My boy was 2 pounds 6.5 oz. We were able to bring him home 2 days before Christmas...expecting him to be home a month later on his due date (January 25th). What a happy day it was to not have to make that trip each day to the hospital! He is now 10 and trying to be as tall as I am. It is amazing to think about holding that tiny baby (the weight of a half a bag of sugar) and how big and strong he is now. Thank you for reminding me of my blessings and of a time we desperately searched for a sign of hope each day. I see blaring signs of God's presence looking back including the "Angel" nurses in the NICU.

  31. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    Oh how I love a happy ending -- excuse me while I blow my nose and wipe the tears from my eyes -- happy tears!! So many times I've been cleaning away and I come across photos of my precious babies who are no longer babies. I still have to pinch myself because I can't believe I've been so blessed!! Big Hugs to you and your wonderful family.

  32. Image for sherri antley sherri antley

    Dear KariAnne You are an excellent storyteller and should seriously consider a book. As an avid reader I can say you truly have a gift. May God direct you with His perfect timing. Loved this post about your sweet girls.

  33. Image for diedre diedre

    I have a very similar story to yours, KariAnne with a happy ending. Lovely identical twin girls almost 15 years old, who were born too soon (1 lb. 14 oz., 2 lbs. 7 ox). I really think NICU nurses are angels in uniform. The veil between heaven and earth is thin in the NICU. I will be forever grateful for those that took care of my girls.

  34. Image for Kathleen Kathleen

    Indeed the fear and joy are intertwined when you experience such an event in your lives. We have twin grandchildren ~ now 16, who arrived just as early ~ weighing 2.0, and 2.2. The heartache and the hope go hand in hand throughout the long days and nights ~ but we were just as blessed as you, and "our kids" are now thriving, even excelling, too. Thank you for sharing your story in such an endearing, and heartfelt way. I really believe the NICU Nurses have the comforting arms of God, and give those wee little ones the strength to live ... What a precious family you have.

  35. Image for Jessica Jessica

    I am behind my reading and today I came to read your story. Today of all days because you see my very good friend had her baby 6 weeks to soon today, and she is spending some time in NICU - today and today I have been thinking so much about our time in NICU because you see I had MY TWINS 5 weeks too soon and we spent a lot of time watching machines and talking to nurses and praying and hoping (boy/girl). Our journey wasn't as happy as your's is. While we beat most of the odds and I got to take my little twins home, my girl was very sick. They are 10 now and Lilly has Cerebral Palsy and we struggle with medicine and with therapy and with Dr. visits but we are lucky to have her on earth with us. Thanks for the cry - love the blocks - love your blog :)

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