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"Tell the story of the mountain you climbed. 

Your words could become a page in someone else’s survival guide.”

~ Margan Harper Nichols




A little background...  My husband, Eric, and I met in the summer of two thousand and nine on a rainy evening in Iowa City. Eric had just begun his six-year Urology residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics after completing medical school at the U of I Carver College of Medicine. I also graduated from the University of Iowa, though with a finance undergraduate degree. At the time, I was working toward my Master’s in Business Administration while employed as an accountant at Rockwell Collins, now Collins Aerospace, in Cedar Rapids. Having been set up on a blind date by a high school friend of Eric’s, I was skeptical, but pleasantly surprised to find we shared many of the same interests.


Having married in our thirties, children were on both our minds very soon after the wedding. But unfortunately, after a year, we were still waiting for a positive pregnancy test, even with the help of several IUI’s (intrauterine inseminations). The next step, IVF (in-vitro fertilization), sounded complicated and involved, but being we both longed for biological children, we moved ahead. Our first round resulted in a few fair-quality embryos, of which we transferred two, and finally received a positive pregnancy test! But sadly, at our six-week scan there was no heartbeat for either embryo. We scheduled another round and this time our egg retrieval resulted in two excellent-quality embryos! We transferred one and froze our remaining embryo.​

Nora is born premature at 29 weeks gestation.

My pregnancy with Nora first turned complicated and high-risk at a 12-week ultrasound when cervical insufficiency was discovered. Fears of pre-term labor became a reality when Nora Mae was born on March 16, 2015, breach at 29w0d, a full eleven weeks early weighing only two pounds. Nora’s NICU stay was terrifying as shortly after birth she contracted bacterial meningitis, and once recovered, after weeks of IV antibiotics, became very sick once again with sepsis. Two major infections so early in life led to a more detailed look at Nora’s immune system which was discovered to be very weak. Nora also suffered from a host of other, more common preemie issues, such as underdeveloped eyes, a risk for hip dysplasia due to her breach birth, and the need for a ventilator for her small lungs not yet ready to breathe on their own. Slowly though she learned to breathe and eat without the help of a feeding tube and was able to come home from the hospital a few months after her birth. 


Nadia is born premature at 30 weeks gestation.

In January 2016 we found out we were pregnant again. A shock. As it was without the help of IVF. But several weeks later we suffered a miscarriage. A month later we got pregnant again on our own, and our beautiful daughter Nadia Louise was born August 23, 2016, after another high-risk pregnancy, at just 30 weeks gestation. Ten weeks early this time, despite efforts to delay delivery. Nadia’s NICU stay was just as scary as Nora’s, with episodes of SVT (Supraventricular tachycardia), anoxic brain injury, and a brain bleed. Nadia was able to come home from the NICU a few days before her due date in October 2016.

The early years... Raising premature infants is no small feat. Especially two so close in age. Even once released from the NICU we found ourselves back in Iowa City several times a week for months for checkups and treatments. Undeveloped eyes need to be followed closely, Nadia required a heart-monitor to track her SVT, Nora's hips were checked for signs of correct development, Nadia's brain growth and development was reviewed on MRIs to make sure her bleed healed, Nora's immunoglobulins were checked monthly to monitor her immune system, Nadia suffered countless ear infections her first two years of life and finally had tubes placed, Nadia was on antibiotics and heart medication her entire first year of life, Nora's monthly blood draws felt like torture, and neither were allowed in daycare due to their compromised immune systems. Both girls participated in the University of Iowa's NICU follow up program to track preemie development through the first two years of life, which meant more appointments and checkups. Blessed with amazing healthcare, but overwhelmed with health issues, these first few years were a blur...​

Strange symptoms...When Nadia was three years-old we started to notice strange symptoms. She had always been a fussy baby, but her sleep started to suffer to an even greater extent than previously. She was waking many times a night, and she was very difficult to calm. Her tantrums turned from a three-year-old being frustrated to epic, out-of-control, behavioral outbursts. And then the hand-washing and feelings of 'wet' began. Nadia wasn't comfortable with anything on her hands, not food, not play-doh. She washed and washed, never seeming to remove whatever she believed was contaminating her hands. We were in the midst of potty-training, so spent many hours in the bathroom. But as the months passed, the time in the bathroom only increased and Nadia started to say she felt 'wet' even after wiping and wiping for sometimes 30 minutes or more after urinating. The 'wet' feeling progressed to more than just after using the bathroom. She felt 'wet' all the time, and eventually refused to wear underwear, and at one point, refused all clothing. Sensory issues began, sheets felt strange to her, clothing tags were bothersome, socks were never quite 'right' to Nadia. Leaving the house was out of the question most days, either because she wouldn't wear clothing, or because it just simply took too much effort to get socks on just right. Nadia missed an entire year of school, and her behavior regressed on the days she did attend. She would crawl around on the floor, acting much younger than her actual age.​

Nora too? Nora was always a clingy child. She loved to cuddle, loved all things mommy, always wanted to be with mommy, and often insisted on mommy's lap. Preschool drop-off felt torturous, prying her tiny fingers off my body, her teachers assuring me this was normal and would end in a few weeks. By the start of second grade we were still struggling, still having a very difficult time getting Nora to leave mommy's side at school drop-off and mix with her friends on the playground. Separation anxiety seemed to plague Nora. And she was also having a hard time learning to read, couldn't memorize sight words, and was eventually approved for special education services at her school. We suspected dyslexia, so hired a private tutor of our own to assist as well.​ In November of 2022 Nora was officially diagnosed with Dyslexia.

PANS diagnosis. I searched everywhere for answers. The internet, our pediatrician, other moms, Facebook groups, specialist after specialist, begging for some explanation... I read book after book, trying to find the answers, any way to heal my children. Nadia was placed on Prozac, at five years old, to control her OCD and emotional disregulation. After seeing many different types of medical providers, we finally found a functional medicine specialist in Minnesota who diagnosed both my girls with PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome).

And Lyme Disease. Literally hundreds of tests, and thousands upon thousands of dollars later we learned more. Both my daughters had Lyme disease, and each with their own unique set of co-infections. Still struggling for answers I read more and more. We drove to Minnesota often to see the functional medicine physician, receiving lots of help but still feeling quite in the dark. How could two little girls have such complicated medical files?​

Answers... Looking back, I now know what probably led my daughters to illness. And it wasn't just one thing, but layers upon layers of issues, that alone the body can handle, but together, were just too much for their immune systems. First, they were both born premature, both missed most of the third trimester when babies continue to build their immune systems. Both had trauma at birth, both to their brains, Nora with meningitis, and Nadia with a lack of oxygen and a brain bleed. Both were on antibiotics very early on, starting in the NICU. Both were, unknowingly to me, exposed to mold in a previous home with basement water damage. And both were, and still are extremely picky eaters, relying on mostly carbohydrates and processed 'kid' food for most of their nourishment from a pretty early age. 

Neurofeedback... So how did I end up opening a Neurofeedback clinic, when my true passion is coffee??? I honestly felt like Neurofeedback was the last piece of the puzzle in helping my daughters, and my family, thrive. We've worked so hard with nutrition, medications, supplements, feeding therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, every kind of therapy out there! But something was still missing. Their brains just didn't seem optimal...

Awhile back I read Healing Young Brains by Robert W. Hill and I was convinced. His stories of success with Neurofeedback in his own clinic sounded nothing short of miracles. With both my daughters having experienced brain trauma, how couldn't Neurofeedback help? And have you ever met a mom on a mission to heal her children? That's me, the crazy one researching late into the night, bound and determined. I finally came across a woman in California running a Neurofeedback clinic, literally changing the lives of thousands of families. And I wanted in. I told my husband, I'm doing this. Maybe it will flop, but if I can help our family and maybe a few others, it will be worth it.

As of the March 2023 I've completed 26 sessions on myself over the course of six months and so far I feel AMAZING. My motivation has soared, my moods have improved, my deep sleep has increased... I can't wait to see where the next 26 take me. Check our my blog page for recent updates!


Let's chat about how I can help you and your family!

~ Stefanie Askeland

Owner of The Mended Mind

Certified Advanced NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Trainer

Our Story

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