Local family welcomes Oaklynn home, says goodbye to sleep

Contributed photo
Tracy and Aaron Nelson took their daughter Oaklynn for her first ice fishing trip in January. Both love fishing year-round and are excited to share this and other activities as a family.

By Lori Fischer Thorp


Little Oaklynn Nelson has reached an abundance of milestones in two months. 

“She’s becoming more aware of her hands,” said her mom, Tracy (Bell) Nelson. “She has found her little voice and she likes to be vocal, she likes to lay on her back and kick her legs around. That’s one of her favorite things to do.”

Unlike some babies, though, Oaklynn has created milestones for her parents that many families might never encounter.

When she arrived on November 17, 2022, it was a year and seven days since her parents, Tracy and Aaron Nelson of Fargo, confirmed they were expecting their first child. That pregnancy, later discovered to be a set of twins, ended in miscarriage in early January 2022.

Then, less than a year ago, Tracy (Bell) Nelson shared their journey in a March 8, 2022 Frazee-Vergas Forum article. The Hopeful Hearts Project was featured in supporting their loss.

Now, Nelson has a new story to tell, and it centers on joy. 

“We didn’t know we were expecting (Oaklynn) until the first week in April, about a month later (following the March article),” she said. 

When they found out a new life was in progress, the 2004 Frazee High School grad and daughter of Lynn and Carmen Bell of Frazee said the couple felt “relief, excitement…we were a little scared, too, that it was going to be twins again.”

Their desire to expand their family propelled them forward. One reason for that is their ages. 

“As an aging and newly married couple (she is 35, he is 37), starting our family was our first task,” Nelson told Frazee-Vergas  Forum for the March 2022 article.

Reflecting, Nelson said that for others who have lost a pregnancy, “When you’re ready, try again. It can be hard because you have all the same fears that it’s going to happen again, but once your body has healed and you’re ready, try again. We started trying and we were lucky to get pregnant right away again.”

As the weeks of the pregnancy passed, the Nelsons took care of essentials. 

One of those was locating a daycare for the point in time when the new mom returns to work.

“It is insane,” she said of the process. “We’ve had daycare lined up since June (2022). It’s crazy that you have to think about lining up daycare 8 months ahead.”

Another essential that had been on the Nelsons’ plan for the past several years was to win the battle of a challenging home buying market. 

“We’d been looking for a long time,” she said. “We lost out on several houses and it was a blessing in disguise, because we had enough time to get moved in and settled in last summer, before Oaklynn arrived.”

Necessities such as house payments and health insurance will lead Nelson to return to work at Centre Incorporated in Fargo when Oaklynn is about 12 weeks old, or shortly afterward. 

“We would love for me to stay home, but that won’t work,” she said. 

Nelson pursued a career in criminal justice before deciding to earn her Master’s degree in Counseling and work in the chemical dependency field.  She was well-established in that area when she met her husband, Aaron, an electrician. He typically works 45- to 50-hour weeks.

While she’s still at home with her infant, Nelson is living in the moment, recalling the days before and after her daughter’s arrival, and picturing the couple‘s hopes for their family life in the days and years ahead.

“I was going to have a planned C-section at 39 weeks since she was breech (meaning that the baby wasn’t in position to be born head-first),” Nelson said, but she encountered high blood pressure complications. The surgery was moved up to November 17, when the pregnancy was at 37 weeks and 2 days.

Oaklynn’s stats at birth were 6 pounds, 15 ounces, and 19.5 inches in length. Her name combines those of her grandmothers. “His mom’s name is Jillyn,” and Nelson’s mother’s name is Lynn. 

Before the new arrival could spend time with family, though, there were some hurdles to overcome. 

When a baby is breech and born by C-section, Nelson said, “it’s common that they get a big gulp of fluid.” 

Nelson didn’t get to hold her daughter until 30 minutes after she was born, when her husband asked medical staff to give her that opportunity, and then the family was separated by two floors while she waited for spinal anesthesia to wear off.

During that time, “Aaron ran back and forth between two floors,” she said. “We were in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for 5 days.”

Oaklynn’s oxygen levels would decline when the CPAP mask was removed, and “also she had low sugar so she had an IV to help with her sugar numbers…She was off the mask by four hours after birth…she showed improvements,” but her bilirubin levels weren’t where staff were hoping they’d be.

“We opted to stay one more night,” Nelson said, rather than risk taking Oaklynn home to see if numbers stayed level, and then possibly needing to bring her back for restabilization.

“It was very emotional for us because we’d lost babies already,” Nelson said. “Just to see your little baby all hooked up to wires and sensors is so hard.

“When they told us that we could go home, it was just like a big chip being lifted off our shoulders. We have our baby and we could take her home and move on with our little family,” she said. 

Nelson has shared the family’s updates on her Facebook page, ranging from the gender reveal, to their hospital time, to daily life now, which includes adjusting to a new little person’s schedule, or lack thereof.

“She is still very much on the eat-and-sleep-on-demand protocol,” Nelson said. 

That sleeping, during the daytime at least, includes snoozing in her mom’s arms. 

“She’s a restless sleeper right now. If I put her down, she wakes up,” Nelson said. “I don’t get anything done…I have no expectations of myself. I was at one point getting frustrated with myself. I had to reframe my mind, that right now my job is to take care of my baby.”

When her husband arrives home, “we decide who cooks supper and who takes care of the baby. Giving Oaklynn her bottle is an equal-opportunity task, but Nelson said, “Pumping is a full time job.” 

Add in pieces such as washing all the bottles, having supper and so on, and “pretty soon it’s 10 p.m., and I want to relax for a little bit but it’s time to go to bed,” Nelson said.

Looking forward, Nelson said, “there’s a lot of pressure for mothers and fathers, what takes preference, do I be there for my baby or for work? You have to be a Jack of all trades I guess.”

Nelson said that for encouragement, she looks to her sister Nancy, who has two older children and two younger, and with them at ages 2 and 3, has just returned to work. 

“She’s a big inspiration,” she said. 

The Nelsons recently took Oaklynn on her first ice fishing trip. 

“My husband is a very avid fisherman,” Nelson said. 

The couple even had a fishing-themed wedding. Though he does open water fishing tournaments, ice fishing is Aaron Nelson’s favorite.

“We want to incorporate our children into the things we love doing,” Nelson said, “and we hope our children will enjoy them as well.” 

One of their other hopes is that Oaklynn will have a sibling.

Whatever else the future holds, camping in rural Frazee will definitely be a part of it. 

“We have a camper at Shell Lake Resort and Campground,” Nelson said. “We’re looking forward to our first camping season with Oaklynn. The summers are so short and so busy, you try to take in everything but you can’t.”

But that’s okay. The Nelsons have their family, and their future together, and that’s what matters.

“We’ve been at that same campground since I was three years old,” Nelson said. “Hopefully Oaklynn and any future children will get to grow up at the same place as I did in the summertime.”