Friday, November 4, 2011

Her life

So, why November 4th?

This is the day, one year ago, that we started this journey to add another member to our family.

We praise the Lord that He answered our petition for another child.

You can still find me at

or on facebook.

Thank you for being a part of her awesome story!

(and thanks, Michelle Dieleman for your beautiful heart in creating this video. Perhaps someday I won't cry the ugly cry every time I view it:-)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Second to Last:-)

It happened by chance, the day we found the ducklings.

Our family was mobile last summer, and biked/roller bladed for hours at a time.

Quite the change from this summer.

There is a trail a few miles from our house that forms a figure 8 around two small ponds. Partially shaded by trees, we set off one night to explore.

As we rounded the corner and crossed the bridge, we watched as 40 ducks waddled through the brush and into the moss filled water upon hearing our approach.

Excitedly, the boys watched for a few minutes as the ducks fluttered and chased each other.

We left with the promise that we would return next time with bread.

Two loaves in hand, we went back the following week to find very friendly ducks. They would waddle right up and practically take the bread directly from your hand.

As we were throwing morsels to the quacking masses, I noticed a mallard off to the side, struggling with a piece of bread. Upon closer inspection, half of his beak was missing.

You might think it strange, but it was the most beautiful thing to see inside his beak. The way the muscles worked to process food was amazing.

I took a liking to that duck, the "one with the broken beak". Every time we visited, which was at least once a week, I purposely sought out that duck and threw bread directly to him. As his friends were fighting over Bryce's half scraps, he always got a hearty helping.

I feel like the mallard with the broken beak. You sought us out, and loved us well.

Seven days after we received Tessa's diagnosis, I posted this quote "God showed up, but not how I thought. He showed up through His people."

Those were the darkest days of my life thus far, and we were immediately enveloped in love.

Fast forward months and months later, and I am amazed by how God continually used His people to reveal his love for us.

I could literally weep if I think on how this community has surrounded us. 6,500 people checked here the day she was born. I am not sure I even know that many people. You prayed when we couldn't and begged your friends to join you, helped us with gas when we didn't have a dime, and brought meals by the truck full. I feel your love for my child, and I am not really sure how to adequately thank you for that.

I won't pretend to know why this happened, or why God miraculously spared her life, but I do know I have learned a whole lot on the journey.

1) Often, people would say something like, "I am struggling with ________, but it doesn't compare to what you are going through."

Pain is difficult to compare. Suffering is hard. Period.

And sure, I look at Reed's parents and know that what they went through was much tougher because their little boy did not make it, but it doesn't discount the months of devastation we endured.

It was valid.

Sometimes life is miserable and someone out there probably does have it tougher. But once you know profound misery, you are able to empathize.

A woman I admire greatly sent me a quote, "Only people who have cried deeply can laugh. Everyone else only giggles."

I can truly say I am laughing in a way I never have before because of the deep sorrow endured.

And I can empathize in a way I never have before because of my affliction.

2) When I tell someone I will pray, I will.

I had a friend going through a tough time a few years ago, and ran into her at the mall. She told of problems in her marriage and asked for prayer.

As we parted, I told her I would pray for her.

And I did.


My follow through in the past has been pretty dismal.

As this community has prayed and prayed and prayed and stuck with us, I have learned a lot about perseverance of prayer.

3) God loves to lavish blessings on His children.

My brother has a couple of friends that have morphed into our friends as well. One of them was also having a baby this fall. I had grand visions of Kelly, Amber, and I sitting in the softball bleachers with our pregnant bellys "talking baby".

As my pregnancy turned into a nightmare, I could not be around pregnant bellys or new babies.

Dealing with the excitement of their new life when Tessa's future was so unsure led to extreme depression. It was easier to protect my heart by avoiding those situations entirely.

After Tessa was born, I finally took the time to look at baby rooms and shower pictures and all the things that were so painful to be a part of when I was pregnant.

In M's room, there was a plaque that said "I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him."

I told my mom, more than anything else, I had to find that for Tessa's room.

Well, if you know anything about my mom, she called every Hallmark and Family Christian Store in the state of Michigan to purchase that sign.

Nobody had it.

After a really rough day at the hospital, I came home and someone had given me that sign (thanks Sarah!) without even an inkling as to how badly I wanted it.

So often through our journey, God has given us little treasures to remind us of how greatly we are loved.

Having our two favorite nurses the last two shifts at the hospital.

The women that I wanted to pray over me, and how the prayer meeting just "happened" to be the next night.

I prayed and prayed that Tessa would go home at 38 weeks, and she was discharged at 38 weeks, 6 days.

Rachael working the night we found out about NEC.

Our two pastors being there the morning we decided to deliver.

I can fully say that God was present in so many ways for us, and bestowed beautiful blessings amidst the pain.

Reading my devotional one night, I came across a man that prayed, "Support us, Oh Lord. Yes, support us on every leaning side!"

Without getting too sappy, thank you for supporting us on every leaning side.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Kayden was born in November, Brycer in April.

Most of my newborn months with Bryce felt....sticky.

He was hot, I was hot. Feeding him was hot, holding him next to the pool was hot.

Every outfit I put on him was taken off because it was

You get the idea.

Kayden was born October 21, so his baby days were full of cute Halloween outfits with matching blankets, Thanksgiving sweaters, and Christmas pageboy caps.

(taken at our house in Redlands)

Although we did not live in a place that snowed, we spent many winter days cozied up next to the fire. 60 degrees feels different when you live in a warm climate year round.

There were a number of reasons Josh and I chose to start the IVF process last November, weather being one of them.

I love having a baby in the fall/winter.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Every time I pull out the orange pumpkin box, a part of me gets giddy.

It kicks off the season, and leads ever so quickly to Christmas. Fall craft shows, carefully picking out presents, reading the Bible Christmas morning with my kids, celebrating family and all we have been blessed with....I just love it. Last year, I imagined telling people I was pregnant in the Christmas newsletter, and that thought carried me through 100s of miles back and forth to Ypsilanti.

One of my earliest memories of Halloween included two of my childhood friends, K and T.

Like any threesome of girls, we were the best and the worst of friends all in the same day.

K had asked my mom if I could accompany her up to the school at the end of the street, which was holding it's annual costume contest.

Nothing sounded more fun.

I carefully got dressed in my costume for that year- a pink rainbow Carebear, complete with a tan plastic bear mask.

We excitedly skipped past the three houses, watching oodles of other kids filing into the gym.

The costume "parade" was already in full swing. We quickly joined the line and showcased out attire the length of the floor with Elvis, Alvin the chipmunk, and a few witches.

Then I saw her.

She had blond ringlet curls cascading down her back. Make-up precisely applied, she was everything I wasn't: blond, beautiful, elegant.

Rhinestones glistened off the crown perfectly situated on her head. A white strapless dress with red embroidered accents led into layer upon layer of gorgeous tulle.

I wanted that dress.

And no offense to my mom but, as she won the costume contest and the huge prize basket, I stood there hating my plastic carebear mask.

We exited the gym at the same time, and I told her how pretty she was. Even at such a young age, I remember feeling awkward and nerdy as she flippantly told me "thanks".

You would think this situation would turn me off from costumes and dressing up; oddly, it had the opposite effect.

I love creating Halloween costumes.

My boys don't really let me have an opinion anymore as to what they should be for Halloween.

This little miss has no say (yet).

Happy Halloween from our house to yours. May your night be filled with candy and family.

November 4 is set to be my final post.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Miss Lolly

My mom's nickname for Tessa.

She handed me this picture today:

Miss Lolly looks like me, huh?:-)

At least we have the jowls in common.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A few new ones

I was ready.

My outfit was picked out, hanging on the closet door.

12 pages of an outline was on the nightstand, proofread by Josh.

Tessa's first diaper and hand print were sitting on top of it, waiting to go.

Tomorrow was the first time I was set to share her story, and I was ready.

Don't get me wrong- I was a little nervous, too. However, I felt peace as I knew there were a bunch of people praying for this day.

It's no secret that Tessa girl really enjoys night time with her mama. Around 2:30, I started getting the shakes.

I was so cold, I could not get warm even with three blankets wrapped around me.


Perhaps I can ward this off by being proactive, I thought. I started with a hot compress, took antibiotics, drank a bunch of water....nothing was helping. With a fever of 103 and feeling quite ill, I ended up having to cancel.

It was a huge disappointment to miss sharing her story today.

But, I have come to know one thing about my God.

He always has a plan.

The most important thing is to be ready and willing, right?

Tessa ended up going to my mom' s house. I heard she had a blast with her cousin, Alexis. Apparently, Tessa was grabbing at her outfit when they were laying side by side.

My mom swears she smiled at her for the first time.

Thank you for praying for me as I prepared for today. I appreciate you, prayer warriors.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Today is the day we celebrate my FIRST baby, Kayden, born 7 years ago.

I am sure, as time stretches on, life with Tessa won't always be measured in days and months.

As with my other kids, it will start being measured in years.

Rather, half years. My kids love a good celebration cake, even if it is only for a half birthday.

A few Sundays ago, we went to eat lunch at my mom's house. This has been a long standing tradition. I am pretty sure we started it the minute our feet landed in Michigan 6 years ago.

Never in my life do I laugh more than when I am circled around that table.

Until this year, that is.

Much of this year marked a deep sadness as we ate Sunday lunch. Many a tear was shed into my plate, as the future loomed ahead.

I wish I could say that I heeded Sarah's Smith advice to never look forward to suffering. Alas, my mind ruminated far too often and always settled on the sad side of future events.

One afternoon, my brother was teasing with my dad about something and he joked back, "I hope your baby gives you just as much trouble as you have always given me!"

They bantered back and forth for a few minutes about Justin's child. As time passed, I could feel the stinging hot tears well to the surface.

I could see my mom tapping my brother on the shoulder to quit this line of conversation.

The reality hit me so hard- how could I get to know my baby in a two hour time span? How could I fit an entire life into mere minutes?

So grieved was I, that I went into the bedroom for a good two hour cry.

Try as I might, I could not stop the tears of loss and sorrow. Life without her flashed before me- no pink Easter dress with a wiggly eight month old, a Christmas picture with a deep hole missing where she should be, struggling to hold Amber and Justin's baby with dirt from her grave fresh under my fingernails.

Being that it was the first time back to my mom's since Tessa's birth, that memory flooded back to me with overwhelming gratitude that God allowed her to live.

So many moments, this happens.

As I drive by Dutton Cemetery, I remember being in Mrs. Boomsma's room last spring, wondering if we would be putting pumpkins and cornstalks on her grave this fall.

Walking Bryce up to preschool, with her in the car.

Bringing my kids to Build A Bear to put the heartbeat sounds into a stuffed animal, and not needed the pink angel wings.

Watching her birth video tonight, and hearing those beautiful cries as she was lifted out of my womb.

As we celebrated Kayden's birth, and joking with Kayden that Tessa was singing Goo Goo Ga Ga for his special day.

After that day, I was grasping at anything and everything to remember her by. I wanted as much as I could to make her life tangible.

This past month, over and over as we created this keepsakes, I would thank God that these are momentos reminding me of joy-filled days of baby buns and hiccups.

A mug with her actual footprints on it from Your Keepsake Company (etsy).

The kids footprints on a 16 by 20 canvas.
Her actual fingerprint and birthstone on a necklace (from

Various baby clothes that were knitted for her- by GrammyJan (etsy) and Kami's friend:-)

I am not sure if you can tell, but feel like my blogging time at 'I Still Have Hope' is coming to a close. This blog started as a private journal to detail my struggles with infertility and morphed into her entire life story. While I am so grateful to have this outlet, I feel like this blog is her story.

I won't go far:-)

Now that Tessa is home, I want to integrate her into the family blog at, and start posting about the boys again, too.

I have a couple more thoughts that I want to wrap up, and something special planned for my final post.

Thank you, as always, for being on this journey. Loving us like you do, and coming along side our family during the deepest and darkest time of our life.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hospital 101, Part 2

Walking across the bridge today, through the lobby of the children's hospital, down the hallway, through Spectrum's lobby, past the cafeteria, and into the pharmacy brought a slew of memories.

This was my summer.

I wouldn't say I am an expert, but I think 102 days gives me a pretty clear idea of what it means to be a patient. I have been asked, as of late, what I have taken away from my hospital stay, and there are certain things that I believe could be helpful to visiting a long term resident.

May I present: 8 Helpful Hints for Hospital Visitation.

1. Timeliness is a beautiful thing. I remember a few summers ago, visiting a triplet mom on bedrest. I was fifteen minutes late, but figured "What does it matter? She is just pretty much laying there all day anyway" (sorry, Stacey!:-)

While that is partially true, I craved consistency and structure during my time on bedrest. My schedule consisted of my kids visiting once a day, being hooked up to a monitor three times a day, and a 15 minute wheel chair ride. While these things are pretty minimal in the grand scheme of things, a visitor being three hours late threw everything out of whack.

There were times I waited and waited, without a scheduled visitor showing or calling. One day, my kids were begging to go for a ride, and we spent an hour trying to get ahold of a visitor to see if they were on the way so I wouldn't miss them if they did arrive. I know it may seem okay to show up whenever, but I always thought it was nice when someone came around the time they said they would.

2. Length of stay. I had a strange aversion to eating when a visitor wasn't. It felt rude. When my lunch and dinner tray has come and gone with so much as a nibble, it might be too long.

Likewise, when Jay Leno's closing credits roll, it might be time to think about heading out.

3. Keep conversation light. While normally it would be appropriate to talk about your neighbor's neighbor who lost a baby at 27 weeks, that conversation left me in a crumpled mess when bed time came. I always appreciated talk that did not center around death, dying, miscarriage, abortions, etc.

I had someone tell me that I should just be thankful the Lord gave Justin and Amber a baby, because if Tessa died then I would still have Alexis to love. There is no replacement for a loved one, and it is hard to even know what to reply in those situations.

4. Notes of encouragement were so uplifting. Spectrum has this awesome system, which allows you to type a message through their website. It arrives on your choice of decorative paper and it was always a fun pick-me-up to get a card or one of these brought in by a volunteer.

5. Asking "Is there anything I can do?" We are blessed to be in a community where people genuinely wanted to help. I know they meant it; their intent was good. The hard part for me was knowing WHO to ask help me clean my bathrooms or a meal or bring my {6000 mile overdue} van for an oil change. The organization of all that was really difficult for me. It helped tremendously when meals were set up through the Helping Hands website, or somebody would just do it without asking.

The other thing that really helped us with our extended hospital stay were gas and cafeteria gift cards. It it amazing how fast that expense adds up.

6. Try out Smashburger. If you happen to be at Spectrum, check out the "food court" located on the first floor of the Children's parking garage. I use the term food court lightly, as it is Smashburger, Qdoba, and Zoup....but you get the idea. Much fresher than cafeteria food.

7. Christian Platitudes. It is so hard to know what to say during a difficult time. My personal least favorite saying was "God never gives us more than we can handle". I always wanted to retort, "Well, than you can deal with the uncertainty of losing your child everyday, because I don't want to!" I know that, at heart, it was coming from the right place. Sometimes, I just wanted to hear "Wow, this sucks" or "You do not deserve this" or "Everything is going to be alright."

8. Being in a hospital is not a vacation.

In Tessa girl news, her eye exam went awesome! We do not have to go back, which is a huge blessing.

The eye doctor is right next to Dr. Balaskas, so I got a chance to pop in there and show off Tessa. This is a rare treat, as we do not bring her out due to germs.

It was a beautiful moment to come full circle from that awful meeting back in April. I proudly presented him with a picture for his wall of babies.

To God be the Glory for the GREAT Things He Has Done!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

3 months old!

Have you ever bartered with God?

Tessa still has her days and nights mixed up.

While it would be a stretch to say I would choose it this way, there is something special about it being just her and I, alone, in the quiet.

Flipping through channels late last night, Toddlers and Tiaras was on our DVR so I decided to watch it.

I flashed back to the day I was laying in my hospital bed, bartering with God that if He let me keep her I would never put her in a pageant like that.

I intend to honor that barter:-)

A few different posts are banging around this dense head of mine; I can't seem to sit down to complete any of them! Being home could possibly be as busy as driving back and forth to the hospital....but it feels so different when it's a joyful busy instead of a stressful busy!

She continues to grow and I can tell she is starting to "see" me. She loves to eat (obviously) and is doing really well on that front.

We have another eye exam tomorrow. I am hoping it is the last one, as they are long and uncomfortable appointments.

Today, Bryce was sitting next to her on the play mat and she was squawking. I overheard him say "Zip it, Lock it, Put it in your pocket, Baby Tessa."

A few of you have kindly reminded me that I need to post a picture every now and then, so here you go:

Sorry for the spit up halfway. Just had to show those amazing dimples!

On a more serious note, I have promised God that I would share her miraculous story and His awesome provision whenever and wherever He would lead me to do so. That I would not say "No" if someone asked me to share it, regardless of my feelings about public speaking.

As such, there are a few different times in the near future I will be sharing her story. If you don't mind, I would love prayers for this. That I would convey exactly what God wants me to, so that He can be glorified for the amazing things He has done for our family. Her story is so long and sometimes it is hard to know which parts to share and with whom. And, of course, that I don't wet myself:)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Two events

Monday Morning, I could not sleep.

and not because of Tessa.

My mom texted me around 2 am, and told me that my brother and his wife were at Metro.

Alexis was on her way.

Well, how does a girl go to sleep after that?

Anxiously awaiting updates, I read as she went from a 2 to a 7 to delivering. Cherished memories of my brother holding her for the first time, and Amber taking a peek at Alexis' beautiful face flooded my phone as I fed Tessa in the darkness of the night.


So incredibly happy.

I texted my brother right before Alexis was delivered and told him there was still time to change her name to Jamie.

Anyway, here she is. Isn't she a beauty?

I cannot wait for them to be the best of friends.

We also took some photos of Tessa Sunday night. What you cannot see are the dump trucks and mounds of cars surrounding her, as the only room with natural light in our house is the boy's playroom.

What a contradiction, I thought, as I took the pictures. She was in the girliest outfit imaginable plopped in the middle of a sea of trains and hammers and swords.

Tessa also had a doctor's appointment today to check her weight.

My little chunky cheek girl is up to 7 lbs, can you believe it?

Her hemoglobin has raised to a nice level- 9.2. We praise God it is going in the right direction!

Both days- my new niece arriving and Tessa's original due date-would have been horribly difficult days, if Tessa's outcome would have been different.

I am so thankful and grateful God spared her life!

Psalm 30:11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.

We are dancing like David over here, friends.

Friday, September 30, 2011

October 1st

was Tessa's original due date.

I can hardly believe 12 weeks has passed since she was the teensy girl in the picture.

that is a burp cloth she is laying on, by the way.

I stand in awe of her journey and God's provision.

Have I ever mentioned why I fell in love with Josh?

You would think it was perhaps his good sense of humor or kindness.


His dimples.

Pretty Deep, huh?

Imagine my delight when these two popped up. They are actually much deeper in person, and I adore them!

From my friend Michelle, who so accurately described this as Tessa's Psalm:

Psalm 71:5-8

New Living Translation (NLT)

5 O Lord, you alone are my hope.
I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.
6 Yes, you have been with me from birth;
from my mother’s womb you have cared for me.
No wonder I am always praising you!
7 My life is an example to many,
because you have been my strength and protection.
8 That is why I can never stop praising you;
I declare your glory all day long.

I apologize this post is a little all over the place!:-)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Time flies

....when having fun!

Love those jowls! I swear she is only 6.5 lbs- it's just that most of it is in her cheeks!

First bath at home

First Doctor's visit

I just realized she is crying in almost every picture.

and in pink.

We are finding a new normal, now that Tessa is home.

The boys squeal in delight when she makes noise. One week later, and they are still fascinated with her.

She generally does not want to be put down...and creates quite the fuss until she gets her way.

Her monitor leads fall off often, causing a stir from all hearing persons in a 20 mile radius.

Jan, the mother of the century, has been coming over to help during the night. Tessa really likes to use that time to reiterate who is boss!

The word of the month is appointments. Sheesh! She racks up quite a few of them. We have four in the next two weeks; most take at least two hours.

Please pray that illness stays away from the Bird clan for a while this year. We would really like to stay away from Spectrum, and right now any cold or flu could potentially bring us back.

Many times throughout the day, I literally squeeze Tessa girl and look up to the heavens in awe of God's gift to us.

She normally cries, but that's alright.

She is here.

God is good!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Threads of Beauty

Dillene sent me this a while ago, and I thought it was so nice that I had to post.

Sometimes I need the reminder that this journey has a larger purpose than Tessa's spot in our family.

Your journey over the past several months has been long, and hard. When we face these journeys in our lives we sometimes wonder why God would ever want us to walk these roads. I believe that it is to weave threads of beauty in our journeys, that only He could weave, and ultimately form us into the likeness of His Son. I would like to share some of the "threads of beauty" I see through your journey and pray that it will be an encouragement to you.

1. There is beauty in the honesty and rawness with which you have shared this journey with others. The way you have wrestled with God in such an honest, open way, and yet always spoken the truth that God is good and in control reminds me of David and He was called "a man after God's own Heart"

2. There is beauty in how the body of believer's (the Bride of Christ) has lifted you, your family, and baby Tessa before the throne. Praying for mercy, healing, strength....

3. There is beauty in the Miracle birth of Tessa, in the breath of life that our Heavenly Father breathed deeply into her. In the days after as she has continued to grow, breath, eat, and yes even poop:)

4. There is beauty in the fact that your story has touched and witnessed to so many more than you could every imagine. There is beauty knowing that so many young children have seen the AWESOME power of our God as He has answered prayers that they have prayed!!

I know that your journey is not over yet and that at this point you rejoice in the fact that God has brought you SO far and yet, at times, the end may seem so far away . I want to encourage you to not grow weary. For it is in our weakness that HE is made strong. I encourage you to continue to look for the things that He is making beautiful.....the" threads of beauty". We will continue to lift you, your family and sweet baby Tessa before the throne daily.
Thank you for allowing us to walk this journey with you, allowing us to see the Beautiful things in you.


Our bedroom:

The bed is unmade.

Her bassinet sits by, with a purple pipe careless thrown on the pink burp cloth.

Blankets are strewn in various places.

Used diapers sit by the door, awaiting trash removal.

The chair is angled to one side, so the TV can be viewed while rocking.

Pump pieces hang off the side of the bed.

Bottles line the sink, in various stages of the wash process.

In other words, beautiful chaos.

I have dreamed of this, waited for it, for over a year. It is a wonderful thing. I love having all my kids on one spot.

Glorious indeed!

Although I did forget just how little sleep newborns allow. It takes almost an hour and a half, from start to finish. By the time I pump, feed her, and then clean the supplies, there is only about an hour of sleep in between.

If Josh and I look a little haggard, know that we wear that title proudly!

So, so, so happy she is home.

Once we arrived home on Thursday, my mom had taken the boys to her house so Josh and I could get situated for an hour or so first.

I heard Bryce running up the stairs yelling, "Tessa, your big brothers are here!"

They could not be more proud.

We already had her first doctor visit, which was about at calamitous as could be. The take along monitor, ten pages of paperwork to fill out, two shots, one oral vaccine (complete with brady), her complete history revisited, and wanting to be fed made me feel rusty!

Everyday, I thank God for choosing to give us this life.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A few more

The woman who has given up the last year of her life for Tessa!

AND decorated our house for her homecoming!

SO happy to be home!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Day of Numbers

102: Consecutive days we have spent at Spectrum

$61, 325: for five weeks on bedrest

$375, 548: Tessa's bill for the first two months at DeVos

3: Number of nurses that informed me they have never seen a baby with Tessa's prognosis turn out so well.

3,672: miles traveled back and forth...approximately:)

13: months since we started this IVF journey with the hopes of a new baby

1: bed and carseat, bought by Grandma in a last minute pinch!

100's: prayers brought to the feet of the throne for our miracle girl

In the same dress I came home in almost 33 years ago:

I cannot even express how grateful we have been for all the support, meals, love, flowers, gifts, groceries, giftcards, verses, and encouragement we have gotten. You sure know how to make a girl feel loved!

We continue to stand amazed at Tessa's life and what has actual happened in the last few months. I am sure I will still be 60, trying to process it.

I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted what I asked of Him!

Price is Right

7 years ago, my mom was out to visit me in California.

We decided it was about time for us to go on The Price is Right and win a car.

Or $10,000 playing PLINKO.

Either way.

Josh's best friend had made it on the show a year prior, and won a sweet dining room table and scooter.

In order to get into the audience, you have to arrive around 7 am to receive a number. Once you have a spot, you can go back later in the day to wait in line and wind your way into the studio.

As we lived 3 hours away in rush hour morning traffic, a seedy motel in the worst part of town was booked (for the night before) so we could eliminate the morning drive.

Bright and early, we rushed to get our spot.

We then waited.

and waited.

and waited.

It took all day in line to be a part of the audience.

Various personalities were encountered. From the crazy to the mundane, we caught it all sitting in that line.

Come mid-afternoon, prospective contestants are interviewed to see who will make it onto the famous row.

Groups of five stand in firing squat formation before the production assistant. He asks each person a few simple questions. Once finished, the page boy issues a name tag and ushers you to your seat to await their decision.

My mom and I had high hopes all day of running down the aisle with arms waiving.

Perhaps even jumping up and down before kissing Bob Barker.

Truthfully, taping a show in real life is a lot like watching it on TV. It pretty much runs actual time, unless something goes wrong.

Anxiously awaiting the results of who would be chosen, my mom and I heard the announcer start reeling off names.

We saw the guy from the group ahead of us jump up as his name was called.

Saw the girl two lines behind of us make her way down the aisle.

The strangest thing happened as Rod Roddy's voice boomed in my ear.

I was deathly afraid of being called.

All the sudden, I did not want to be in front of the cameras and the crew and the audience.

The safety of my seat was just fine.

We didn't get on the show, by the way.

I spent the better part of ten weeks wishing we were home.

Biding my time until Tessa got bigger, stronger.

The last two days have been discouraging.

Tessa has had multiple times that I have been feeding her, and all the sudden she refluxes and cannot catch up with her breathing. Turns blue for quite a while. Probably not as long as it seems to me, but long enough that it is disturbing.

Today, I was sitting in her room, feeding her and the rounding doctor came in.

He asked me how she was doing.

I said, "Well, we are getting there."

He said, "Ready to go Home?" which I took, are you sick of it, yet?

I smiled and said yes.

"Okay, tomorrow then", he said.

A whirlwind of meetings, paperwork, monitor instruction, tests, car seat checks, and general madness ensued.

....and we still don't have a bed set up.

Tomorrow we are due to go get Tessa.

Now that it is actually here, I am terrified.

What if I miss something? What if I feed her wrong? What if she turns blue at home and I cannot get her to breath? What if she gets sick? She is so tiny and doesn't have the same immune system that my boys did.

My safety net of doctors and nurses and [easily accessible] oxygen is being removed, and that is hard for me.

Tonight, I have to stop and remember that my true safety net is still in place.

God is still here, still holding my hand, still holding Tessa's life in His grasp.

I go back again and again to the verse engraved on my Julian and Co. necklace- the first thing that I received with Baby Bird's name on it:

10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

6 lbs, 8 ounces.

This girl likes to eat!

Friday evening, Tessa had a routine MRI. She looks happy, huh?

Babies born under 28 weeks receive them automatically, so they decided to lump her in because she was so close in gestation.

Because the machine is expensive, they run a tight schedule. Prompt and effective, every last detail was laid out when the appointment was set earlier in the day.

We fed Tessa a bit early, and then had to apply "jumper cables" to her chest and stick on the ear muffs on.

She then went into a blue inflatable papoose to keep her very still.

As she was leaving in her baby buggy at 8:25 exactly, the nurse removed her from central monitoring to a portable device.

Upon returning one half hour later (she filled her pants and slept like an old lady with her mouth gaping open during the actual test), we hooked Tessa back up and noticed that all of her information had been wiped clean. She had trending graphs, saturation limits, etc. and none of them remained.

I did not think much of it.

Saturday and Sunday brought a lot of alarms, and the dinging was driving me crazy. I normally am pretty patient; Sunday was the first time I had to walk away and collect myself. I was grinding my teeth and getting a headache as the monitor tripped over and over and over.

Yesterday, one of my primary nurses came in and said, "Why is this so loud?"

Unhooking her restored the system back to presets, which had the dinging as loud as it could go.

No wonder.

Thank God it was turned lower again yesterday- I was about ready to go crazy over there!

Tessa is back on caffeine, the conclusion is that it was much needed. Her saturation levels are again consistently where they need to be.

She is working on taking 48 hours worth of bottles. Sometimes, she gets gulping too fast, and falls behind with breathing. I can tell she is going to get "stuck", where she looks at me and cannot figure out how to take the next breath. Helpless, I can only look back at her and calmly wait for her to restart.

She turns all shades of blue and gray, her heart rate drops to the 90's, and her oxygen saturation plummets.

Thankfully, this is quite normal. As her mom, it sure doesn't feel like it sometimes, though:-)

MRI was perfect, so we are thankful for that!

Thank you for your diligent prayers for our family. We appreciate them!

Monday, September 19, 2011


The number of "dings" I have heard in the last three days.

Good golly, miss molly.

Her saturation level alarms are giving me a headache.

The big question on every one's mind is when Tessa will come home.

To tell you the truth, no one knows.

She needs to take 16 feedings in a row in order to get the all-clear.

She made it up to nine about a week ago.

Lately, she has been stuck around 2-4.

Tonight, we are at zero.

Caffeine was discontinued about a week ago, and it seems to be affecting her breathing and overall endurance.

The rounding doctor restarted it today, so we are hoping that helps.

Her hemoglobin again went up, if only a smidge. 8.5. As I am trying to be a cup-half-full sort of girl, I think that is great!

Weight: 6 lbs 6 ounces. Getting big!

Desperately trying NOT to be an Israelite in the wilderness, I am working hard at the 'not complaining part' of trusting God:-)

Thankful beyond words she is here and on the cusp of coming home.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Day of Firsts

Kayden grinned the entire time.

Bryce was content to play with the water in the sink.

These pictures make my heart so happy.

In Tessa news, she has the big blood draw tonight. Praying for hemoglobin levels to go up.

Her challenge right now is destating and bottle feeding. She needs to master both before allowed to come home.

Thanking God for this day of "holding firsts", with all of us in the same place, if only for a little while:-)

God is Great!!!