Prematurity Awareness Month

The March of Dimes strives for a world where every baby has a fair chance, yet this is not the reality for many mothers and babies. This Prematurity Awareness Month, join us in the fight to give every baby a healthy start. Together, we can Give them tomorrow.

Prematurity affects more than just the baby. Many moms are diagnosed with not only anxiety and depression, but also PTSD after delivery. I was looking for a photo for my dad of my grandparent's lit up Christmas house, and came across this photo:

 I was crying looking through them because this was THE ONLY photo I took during presents that morning. Every picture is of Landon and Luke or my niece and Landon. Our baby was 12 days old, and we still had no clue what her future would be like. I was up pumping throughout the night still, not eating, mad, upset, depressed, anxious, still on blood pressure medicine, and just wanted to be with her.

We had Christmas eve service at church that ended around midnight. I wanted to go , to have SOME normalcy in my Christmas. Then we headed up to the hospital to say a quick Merry Christmas, and take a ' family Christmas photo', where it would be Landon's first time to see his  " baby C" .We woke up on Christmas to do presents with Landon and my niece, & sister, stopped by to run in & drop off some milk to Lucy, and then had to head on to family Christmas. My parents came in later that day, and Luke & I were able to go sit by her bed for a little bit alone that evening.
I just wanted to be with Lucy, but it didn't seem 'ok' for me to be alone. It wasn't really fair to not let Landon have time with me, when all I wanted was Lucy to be with us. I would have been almost 31 weeks along had she still been in my belly, and I really just wanted her back in now that I was healthy.

Holidays are hard if you have lost a child or have a sick child or even just a child stuck in the hospital.
Read back 1 post to see how you can help us out and spread a little of Lucy's Love this holiday season.
We will be collecting NEW blankets for about 3 more weeks, and all the details are in my last post!

Don't forget that TOMORROW is WORLD PREMATURITY DAY! If you see someone in purple, chances are high that they have experienced the NICU or know someone who has.  We will be wearing purple & heading to downtown Nashville to bring awareness to the babies and moms that are fighting for a healthy chance. Look for buildings in your city ( and around the world)  lit up PURPLE!


Lucy's Love

It's that time of year again! November is Prematurity Awareness Month, and you all know The Howells celebrate those preemies. 
For the past 5 years, we have delivered gifts to Lucy's NICU. We started out sewing tiny hats from onesies, and shortly moved to blankets. The blankets are either embroidered or they have a vinyl tag that says Lucy's Love
We have taken a little more each year, and last year Lucy got to deliver over 40 blankets. She walked around to all of the beds and laid the bags out next to them. 
Each bag has a small note of encouragement inside that reminds the parents that they are not alone, we have been there, come out on the other side, and just want to share some of Lucy's love with them. We also include a photo from birth and a current photo on the card.
For the past 2 years, we had friends and family donate gallon zip lock bags, blankets, and their embroidery skill/time. If you would like to help this year, Lucy will GLADLY ( because she LOVES doing this on her birthday, and loves to visit her first home) be accepting NEW receiving blankets to deliver. 
We wash all the blankets in free & clear, immediately iron on the tag, and then fold them into their zip lock bag.
With Thanksgiving, all of our kids birthdays within the next month, school programs, church programs, and Christmas, it is a BUSY time. But we know the pain and struggle of celebrating those things without a tiny precious baby at home. We spent 53 days with Lucy in another 'home', from December 13- February 3rd. We count it a joy to be able to spread some love during this Holiday time. One day Mommy will write her children's book, that is catered more towards a new parent in the NICU, and deliver those as well. But for now, we will deliver as many blankets as we can! 
Everyone knows I'm a photo person, the house is full of albums and frames filled with memories. I'll end this with some photos from the past few years.
We love nurse Leslie! What a great person to call friend!

Lucy's first gifts at a year old.

1 year after Lucy's birth. From 2 pounds to 14 =)

Lucy at 3 years old, dropping off blankets with Ms Leslie =)
Can you tell we love our nurses?

4 years old!
Big FIVE year old! Standing in front of her THANK YOU card we made.
Lucy's first bed in the Nicu, #51.

If you'd like to help out, send me a text, email, or give me a call!


One Week

In one week from tomorrow, my sweet Lucy begins her school years! It was just 2 years ago that we began on the school journey with Landon ( you can replay that HERE ). I feel all the same emotions and feelings. I'm excited, anxious, happy, speechless, and every emotion I can think of. We've been through this before. I know what to expect. It's hard with your oldest -- your first baby-- but this is a hard one too. This sweet baby, that had to come meet us 10 weeks earlier than she should have, is growing up.

I am watching things happen before my eyes that I cried over for weeks in the NICU. I read and heard what could happen , what might not happen, and things that might happen later on. 

Not only were they cried over for the almost 8 weeks in the NICU, but those thoughts don't go away. 

 Something funny happens, and you're at the neurologist getting an EEG. You go to Vandy twice a year for a few years, just to make sure hearing is OK. You know, that is something that MIGHT show up later down the road. You mention 'hyper', and someone reminds you the percentages of preemies with ADHD or ADD.

I remember back to right after I had Lucy. It was about 4 days later, and I had just seen her for the first time. All these thoughts of chances and percentages and disabilities and  difficulties were running through my mind. The only things I could think of was the future when she went to school. I was hurting for what could happen, and I was torn to think she might be teased or bullied if any of these things came forth. And that my poor baby had no choice in being early, and her Momma's body just couldn't hold her, and someone might someday tease her for this. This hurt my heart so much.

But we also know how much of a fighter she is. Our little 2 pound baby turned into a 14 pound 1 year old.  She was a 1 year old who couldn't eat anything but stage 1 baby food. 

She passed through occupational therapy, speech therapy, and feeding therapy. She had finally sat up, crawled, stood, and walked! I pray she will continue to pass through all these milestones that she will come upon. She started a 2 day a week pre-school in January, and loved every minute ( except nap time) of those 5 months.
She loves her friends and she loves to help.
Lucy has turned into such a great little girl. She loves dresses, bows,  shoes, curlers in her hair, headbands, jewelry, and purses. She is so excited about starting school.  We've had school supplies for weeks, her uniforms are ready, her backpack arrived, and there is no talking her into pre-school again next year!

 I remember praying nightly for years over her eyes, and brain, and ears. I prayed over her heart that had 2 holes, and I prayed that she would be able to run with other kids. Here we are, and all of those prayers have been answered. While I'm trying to keep remembering how happy I am for where she is, I'm also letting her go. We are sending her off with someone else to watch over her all day.  I haven't left her with someone else to watch over her all day since the NICU. 

Thankfully we know the people she will be with! She knows names and teachers from Landon being in school,and she might even see him and his friends throughout the day!

I know what makes her nervous, I know how she gets shy,  & I know what hurts her feelings. Mommy won't be there every minute to help, like I have for the past 5.5 years. I can only pray that I truly have done the best to prepare this baby for her next step. I pray that she knows who to go to for help. I hope that she knows what to do when she gets nervous. I see myself in her when she gets shy and nervous, and I still have certain vivid memories of those times in my mind from when I was 4 & 5 & 6. I hate to think of her feeling scared for even a split second. I pray that those instructing her will notice if something pops up, and they will be patient and understanding with her. I know the world is big scary place, and sending your kid off all day isn't always comforting. So pray for this mommy's heart! I will need peace to know that she is cared for and protected and loved.
As we've leaned on through her journey in the past 5 years and 7.5 months, Luke 1:37 reminds us " For with God, nothing shall be impossible". And I am extra thankful I am still here to help her through this new experience. .


The Song of Victory

I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;

I'm sure there are so many different things my Papaw is known for. Some you might not even know about, but I'm sure if you knew him a long time, you knew everything about him. 

Papaw lived to be 95 years old. The people that would have know him from WW II  are most likely not around any longer. I believe he served for over 5 years, and we have heard the stories of all the places he went. He and my great uncle could tell them together--he wasn't as good of a story teller as my great uncle ( his brother in-law), but he still had some good ones.

Some know that he was 1 of 14 children. 

If you went to church with him, you might have heard him sing the words from the song above. You might know that he liked to sing at church. He was a member of Ashby Lane Alliance Church ( now Grace Crossing ), and was active in the church.

Some might have known him from calling 636-1309 at 11:30 PM on a cold winter night if your heat went out. 

Or you might have worked for him one summer , or several years, at Bill Clark & Son. He started his company in 1962. This business and building are currently gone. This photo was on South 2nd street, where there is now a bridge, baseball stadium, and football stadium in the background. 

You might have know him from playing softball for him or on the team he sponsored. I've heard they were pretty good. Many times, we heard. Luke and I were visiting back home one time, and decided to check out the new turf at UL baseball stadium with my dad. There just happened to be a man there. As he was asking us our names, and my dad was sharing with him,  the man realized he knew Papaw from softball years ago. He then took us on a tour of the whole facility.

You might have played golf with him. And he never EVER cheated =) He aways had a set of clubs with him. He ended up making part of the office at work into a little putting practice area. He had the putting machine that spit the ball back out at you. He also loved to be a part of the FCA scramble every year.

You might have know him because he traveled with you on your ball trips with UofL. He might have sat on your bed after games and shared a pizza with you. Or he might have bought you a fur coat, before those things (buying a gift for a player) were illegal. This might have been his thing that I was most jealous of. I REALLY wanted to go on a trip with him and the team. I kept trying until my senior year, but then I realized a 17 year old girl really can't go on a trip with the team and stay with 2 old men or college athletes.
Everyone that meets me always asks how I got to be a UofL fan instead of UK. Well, there was no choice. If you knew Papaw, you knew he was red through and through. He was friends with the coaches and trainers and teams. He always had something Louisville or red in sight. My grandma was all about the cardinal bird too.

He was very active with Louisville FCA. The FCA office was about his for as long as I can remember.  He also delivered Meal on Wheels; he would take food to the 'old people'.  Mind you, he was in his 80's when he still was doing this, and he was older than the 'old people' he took food to. After he delivered the food, he would go lift weights at Sun Valley .

When thinking about how I remember my papaw best, there are 3 scenarios. 
Growing up, we spent almost every weekend during the summer with my grandparents. We would drive down to Cave Spring Farm usually Friday after work, and usually stop at a little restaurant on the way. I remember 2 different places we'd stop, and they all knew us. We would sit in the living room and watch TGIF, and sometimes head down to get ice cream at the lake. Grammy would love to make rice crispy treats late at night too. He always woke up early on Saturday to get started on the garden, but sometimes he would take my sister and me to North Fork and Spoon for some biscuits and gravy. He sometimes brought them to the house for us. My sister and I played all day while the 4 adults worked in the flowers or the garden. We'd help check on the cows, walk along the creek, and pick peppermint. We'd fly kites on the hill, and then when we went to get gas, the lady would tell us how she knew we were in town from seeing our kites in the sky. There would be some time of sitting and drinking a cold diet drink, a little fishing, and maybe some swimming. We'd drive through Druthers on the way home ( later Dairy queen) for some onion rings, and then get ready to start the week over and do it all again.

Besides just on the weekends, during the week, we were around him just about every afternoon. My mom would pick us up from school, and we'd go spend an hour and a half at the office with my dad, grandpa, and all the guys at their shop. We'd sit at his desk, pretend to work, play 'games' on the other computers, ride our bikes and rollerblade through the parking lot and warehouse. We'd help clean the bathroom, sometimes walk to Moby Dick to eat lunch, go upstairs and bug the FCA guys, and load the glass bottles into the coke machine; how did we have so much time? We'd also pick cherries from the cherry tree out front, and do whatever else we could get into! 

Lastly, he  was just an avid sports fan. We spent many hours at games with him. He spent many hours at our games, and he knew everything about my teammates on the volleyball and basketball teams. He wasn't ever one to not speak his mind, so I heard all his thoughts on all of their talent( or lack of). He bought my team new uniforms my junior year, & my grandparents kept the plaque hanging on their wall that my coach Camille gave them. 

Not only did he come to almost all of my games in high school, he told EVERYONE about them. I'd walk into a Louisville basketball game, and everyone that sat in the box behind me would say ," I saw where you had ____ points".  He'd talked so much about my teams that everyone around him told me that they always looked for me first in the box scores.  He was proud. My grandma did similar in the beauty shop ;)  I have an envelope from their house where my grandma had cut EVERY box score out of the newspaper since I played in high school. They cared and they loved.
Did I mention how much he loved his lazy boy?

It's been almost a year since my grandma passed away. We have many memories of them both; These are just a few that scratch the surface. Life will go on, and that makes me sad. We will miss him so much. I know my kids' kids will never know them. We will only have memories & photos to share.  I have many more photos from me as a baby up to a few days before he took his last breath. It's hard to remember how they lived the end of their life-- in pain and suffering. We know they are in a better place, together again, singing, golfing, shopping, rejoicing and living pain free. 
I'd love to hear your story of how you remember William Russell Clark!

About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I'll sing up there
The song of victory.

Online Obituary link : William Russell Clark
Owen Funeral Home
5317 Dixie Highway
Louisville, KY 40216
(502) 447-2600
Visitation Thursday June 9 4-8 pm
Funeral Friday, June 10 at 11am
Burial will take place at Cave Spring United Methodist Church in Breckinridge County, KY following the funeral.
Donations can be made to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at
400 Blankenbaker Parkway suite 301
Louisville 40243
Donations will be added to the Bill Clark/FCA summer camp scholarship endowment.