A Horse Trainer & His Babies


It has taken me a long time to snap a picture of Clay holding one of our babies, so I thought I better post it as soon as I could! It seems every time we go into the Neonatal unit to see our babies, we are so excited we completely forget about bringing the camera. Thank goodness my sister had the mindset to remember last week!

This past week has been an incredible roller coaster for my husband and I. And my blog today has more of a melancholic tone to it than I have probably ever posted.

In the past, our life seemed to be surrounded by so much drama at times – a frozen tractor, a flooded barn, an equine colic emergency, etc. – all those things that appeared to completely throw our schedule and plans for a loop at the time, seem so trivial now. These days, we are absolutely living day by day. And that's because we've realized that life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is incredibly precious. We cherish every hour, every minute and every second we can get with our babies, because things can change in an instant.

Anyone who has had a child in NICU knows that some days are better than others. One day your child – or in our case, children – might be thriving very well and the next day, the doctors have ordered some crazy procedure because a blood test came back with surprising results. Or the tiny IVs in your baby's body makes them swell up. Or they are not processing their feeds well (all of which are done through machines at this point).


We walked in on Wednesday, unbeknownst to us, that the doctors had ordered a PICC line for our son. This was because he continued to blow his IVs and there wasn't a vein left in him to administer the necessary fluids he requires at this stage of his life. I cannot tell you how terrifying it was to walk in and see gowned, gloved and masked doctors overtop of my child in what appeared to be a surgical procedure, without any warning. I had phoned the twins' nurse earlier that morning and got a full report on how Faythe and Braxton were doing and everything, she told me, was good. Of course shortly after my phone call, the doctors made their rounds and Braxton's medical orders were changed drastically.

I fell to pieces when I walked in unprepared and saw what was happening that afternoon.

The next thing I knew, the PICC line procedure was unsuccessful and therefore, Braxton had gone a couple of hours without his IV. Getting fluids into his body was becoming an extremely time sensitive matter. The doctors and nurses were now calling for a real surgical procedure to insert a central line into his system so his fluids could continue to be administered. Clay and I had to wrap our heads around everything that had already happened and now, we were being asked for our consent for our tiny baby boy to undergo surgery. There was no time to think, let alone cry. Somehow, I managed to do both.


As it turned out, the surgical procedure went very well and Braxton is now having some very good days. And that's why some days are definitely better than others. Meanwhile, life at the farm hasn't slowed down at all. There are horses to be rode, fed, turned out and primed for the upcoming show season. There are broodmares who are getting close to foaling out – although some of them are really giving us a run for our money by going way over their due dates. There are pasture horses who are kicking at each other and require veterinary care. There is straw to pick up, feed to be unloaded, shavings to be ordered. But luckily, we currently have some amazing staff to help Clay and I get through.

Lacey McKelvie, Cory Wiebe and David Olivares: we are so thankful to have you.

Clay and I also find strength in the little improvements the nurses note of our babies every day: a weight gain here or there, a good night's sleep without any fluctuations in heart rate or breathing, a report of a good feed. We hold dear the friends we have made with the other parents in the NICU and others who have come forward sharing the same experience. Thank-you to Rolanda Kerkhoff for sending us all the great preemie, twin clothing! And good luck to my friend Nissa Oliver who is next in line to deliver her set of twins.


7 thoughts on “A Horse Trainer & His Babies”

  1. So glad to hear how Braxton and Faythe are doing-it sounds like the crisis is leveling out- such precious babies!!! I don’t think you realize until you have had your own children, that life will be so changed forever, for the good. You all are all in my prayers. Jo Lutley

  2. You are all in our prayers. Somedays that is all that will get you thru to the next good day , hour, or moment.

  3. Sharon Carlson

    Hi Clay & Jen: This is belated but non the less wishing you all the very best and praying that all continues to head in the right direction. Congratulations and take care of those babies.

  4. Nikki Hershberger

    Jenn and Clay: Your blog leaves me in tears with the same memories and feelings with our Gavin who had some tough days in NICU. Even after seven years, I remember the people, the roller coaster, and the uncertainty. This experience touched my life so much that I long for the day that I can volunteer or give back in some way to others. At one point, I had even considered a career change. I wish I could come see you! You can do it and cherish the time you get to touch and hold them. They grow up so fast! We enjoy the pictures!

  5. Jan Fletcher

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family…….I’m sending good Karma your way 🙂

  6. Lorraine Gilchrist

    Clay & Jenn
    First congrats on your twin babies. My prayers are with you at this time.
    I have total trust that all will come out well.
    Look forward to seeing Braxton and Faythe.
    Lorraine and Bob

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