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!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011


I don't know about you, but I am a creature of habit.

Like the time Josh and I tried to sit on the opposite side of church, near the front...not good. I could not even focus on the sermon because I felt so uncomfortable with my new surroundings.

I have always slept on the right side of the bed, against the wall. My reasoning was that if someone were to break in, they would have to content with Josh first. In the meantime, I would run and grab the kids, shimmy down the lattice, run towards the tramp, and jump over the neighbor's fence.

Sometimes I have too much time on my hands while waiting for slumber.

Where was I?

During pregnancy, the only way I could lay comfortably on my stomach was on the left side of the bed. I would prop my body up with one knee on the edge, tipping on my side to stay clear of my big belly.

Tessa would kick and squirm. It was one of the times she was most active.

Last night, Josh and I were talking about events of the day and he started rubbing my back. For whatever reason, I happened to again be on the left side of the bed.

I had the most overwhelming sense of deja vu.

Emotions I haven't grazed on in a while were festering.

Night after night, I would lay there and cry myself to sleep as Josh rubbed my back.

Sometimes it would take an hour, sometimes it would take ten minutes.

But he never complained. Never rushed me through it. Never discounted it because he had heard it ten times before and it was 2:30 in the morning on a work night.

So many times, my memory is triggered back to the specific moment of my deepest sorrow. It happens at the strangest of times, and brings with it tears of joy.

Leaving the hospital tonight, I started humming a familiar tune:

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come
Twas grace that brought me safe thus far
and grace will lead me home.

I know this song is about leading us to heaven, but I couldn't help but smile when I heard it tonight.

For a whole lot of weeks, Tessa was in a holding pattern. It seemed we were going in circles.

We are finally feeling the forward progression towards her coming home in the next two weeks.

She had an MRI done tonight to double check her brain development.
She needs to pass the car seat test.
I started muddling through the education checklist yesterday with our nurse.
Tessa is enrolled a study- whether kids do better in the private rooms or pods. The final survey was dropped off.
Breastmilk stored in deep freeze is headed to the donation bank.

And can I just say:

We are so blessed by this community! My kids think every day in Christmas, now that we finally have groceries and meals. I have been thrilled to hear, "Mom, there are individually wrapped Oreos!", "I love these Cheese Its", "String Cheese! This is awesome!", "This lasagna is so yummy!"

Although they would never admit it, I think they were sick of McDonalds, too.

Thank you sounds so feeble and not near strong enough for what I want to convey; but thank you again for helping us through.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sleeping Beauty

Happy NINE weeks, Tessa Girl!


The last time we talked, I was 24 weeks pregnant.

Dr. D, that is.

I had a blog post formulated in my mind, describing the rounding doctor from today. He looks like he should be running down the beaches of Southern California with the Hoff.

However, it is late.

I am tired.

Tessa had a long day, which makes mamma bird have a long day.

I know you were faithful in praying, so I wanted to share the good news.

ECHO was normal- there is a small issue, called PFO, something she will outgrow as she gets older. I did not catch all of the description- just "hole in heart" and "not an issue". I will probably have to follow up with a cardiologist sometime after she goes home.

Eye exam- looked normal. No signs of ROP at this time.

Did you know they give babies caffeine intravenously? No joke. It helps them remember to breath. They are trialing her off the caffeine, so hopefully she can come home without a monitor.

Physical therapy- Tessa had a small flat spot on her head when he visited her last week. I have worked hard to keep her off that spot, as we went through 8 long months of PT with Bryce for torticollis. Jason said it was much improved, and Tessa is right on track for development.

Many, many less desats over the past few days. Praise God for this, as it means less dinging! She also has gotten better with taking a bottle, and took two entire bottles for me today!

Tessa did have a vaccination today (DTAP), which made her breathing funny for a few hours. She had two bradys, which is very unlike her.

She cried for a lot of this afternoon. A pathetic, lip quivering whimper.

I hate it.

All the testing produced good news, but it was hard on the poor girl.

Thank you for the prayers offered up for all of these various tests- we appreciate it and are so thankful for the good news!

Monday, September 12, 2011


You might have noticed I changed my blog title (again).

The Road Marked with Suffering didn't represent our journey anymore once she was born, but I wanted to wait until I found the perfect title.

Nothing quite fit.

Over and over again, I thought back to this post. It was at a time when I felt most people around me were losing hope. There were a few stragglers still believing, but the vast majority had given up.

Including myself.

Doctors appointments were brutal; night time was full of horrible, vivid dreams of burying my child, and I was depressed most of the time.

Low and behold, in one simple sentence, Josh brought my spirits alive again.

Four words, that kept me going for many weeks to come.

Reminded me that where there is life, there is always hope.

Over and over, during my Bible roulette:-), God drew me to Hebrews 11:1.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see"

62 days

She is a tiny bit blue here because she was in the middle of a desat. But good golly! She has what I refer to as "McCain jowls".

Today was the first day I have not seen Tessa in the 62 days she has been alive.

It is killing me.

After visiting last night, my mom went home and ended up getting violently ill in the middle of the night.

She arrived at our home away from home, Spectrum Hotel, for morphine and IV meds.

Thankfully, my mom is feeling better this morning.

When I called and asked what to do in regards to Miss Tessa, the nurse said it was better to be safe than accidentally expose her.

Have I mentioned it is killing me not to see her?

My mom feels awful, and we have been praying all day that Tessa remains free from whatever it is that she had.

Would you please pray for Tessa? If I don't catch and stop myself, I can work myself right back into hysteria. What if she gets sick, then they need to draw more blood, then she will need a transfusion, and the possibility of is vicious.


She stays free from illness.

I stay illness free, too. Obviously, if I get sick, I will not be able to visit.

Another big test for Tessa is tomorrow's echo.

We are in the home stretch, and I hate to have anything deter us from the final goal: coming home!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I hate going to the dentist.

Every six months, I get the cute reminder card with the smiley face on it. Detailed on the back is when I should make an appointment, to ensure I don't fall behind.

Normally, I love mail.

I hate seeing that stinking smiley face.

This loathing did not happen after one particular horrific event.

Scraping, poking, digging, tugging-all terms I do not want in association with my mouth. 90% of the cleaning process is not enjoyable to me. The only part I like is the little spinner thing polishing my teeth.

Begrudgingly, I make the appointment for one month out.

About a week before, I see that red reminder on my calendar.

My gut aches.

Dread fills me as every morning I wake up, one day closer to that awful event.

Three times, on average, I reschedule. There is always a good excuse to break the date.

All week, I have had this same churny stomach when I think of Tessa's hemoglobin test tomorrow night. They draw blood to check it on Monday mornings at 2 am.

I knew it was coming, but it seemed so far away last Tuesday.

As it gets closer and closer, I just want to call and ask for a reschedule.

To avoid a transfusion, we are looking for a number above 8.

Pictures from today:

Tessa with her adorable blanket from Cara's Creations. You cannot see it, but there are beautiful love birds all over the fabric!

Other than her hemoglobin, Tessa has an echo scheduled for Tuesday (thanks, Rachael:-)

Josh fed her for the first time today. My only regret is that I do not have a picture of it.

Her saturation levels are better, but still not where they need to be. She has periods in which she turns positively blue, and it takes a while to get her pink again.

I was able to give her two bottles- at 8 pm and 11 pm. She took around 30 mls both times. She gets a total of 50 mls each feeding, so we are getting there!

Every time I leave, I can't help employ the "Minnesota Goodbye". It takes me forever to part with her. I managed to waste another hour after her feeding tonight by holding her and getting her comfy for the night.

She is 37 weeks today, and hit the 6 lb, 1 oz mark.

I am having a hard time even staying awake long enough to finish this post, so I will try to write more if I think of it, tomorrow:-)

Thanks for your prayers and checking in on Tessa!

Psalm 33:22 your unfailing love rests upon me, Oh Lord, even as I hope in you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


My sister in law's shower was tonight.

Since I have missed most of her pregnancy, I really wanted to go. My gift was picked out a week ago, and sitting by the door ready for the quick grab when I got home.

I left the hospital after Tessa's 5pm bottle, with intentions of changing and pumping before the party. We were late leaving, because her bottle took a little longer than expected.

Upon arriving home, I went upstairs to start packing my bag.

I heard the garage door open and slam shut.

The boys know they are not allowed to go outside without me, so I ran downstairs to see if Kayden had gone outside.

I yelled out the door to him, and heard him reply "What?"

He was in the area.

"Come inside," I said, which is usually enough to get him back in the house.

Back upstairs to finish getting things together.

Minutes passed, and I realized the house was strangely quiet.

Again, I called his name.

This time, no answer.

I hollered at the top of the stairs to see if he had wandered into the basement.

Looked out back.

Bounded upstairs to double check.

Went into the garage to yell his name again.

I am panicked.

He always responds immediately when I call.

I ran out front, because that is where I thought he had been the previous time I summoned.

Have I mentioned I was wearing only a tank top and underwear?

Classy Class.

The van door is slightly ajar.

No Kayden.

I peered over the gate into our backyard, yelling his name the entire way.

Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Before getting too far, I reckoned I might need some pants.

As I was hustling through the garage, I heard a loud wail.

I know that wail.

The "I'm terrified or really, really hurt" wail.

All sorts of horrible things are going through my mind- did he get hit by a car, is someone trying to take him, how badly is he injured.

Placing that it was coming from outside, I darted back to catch him running from the stop sign down the street.

"The dogs ran away," he howled, in between sobs.

It's no secret how I feel about my dogs. Lately, they are more pain than pleasure. I forever tease Josh that I wish they would run away.

I knew he would be devastated if they actually had.

Kayden was beside himself.

He had tried to catch them and they ran too fast. By the time he got to the end of the street, they were gone.

Finally grabbing a pair of pants, we ran down to the end of the street.

I should have grabbed shoes, too.

On a hunch, we took a left, praying we would catch sight of them.

They do not snag freedom often, so I did not know if we would ever find those two ninnies.

We ran another block. I just kept telling Kayden to keep up with me, and don't lag behind.

Kept praying.

At the corner, we saw them at the end of the street, about 15 houses down.

"Melo! Cali!", shouted over and over, was not doing the trick. We hunted them down for a good five minutes before I asked if they wanted to go bye-bye.

They sprinted to me.

Melo allowed me to pick him up and Cali kept running circles around us. Holding Melo in one hand made it far more difficult to catch her. Every time I got close, she bolted.

Remembering the one and only trick up my sleeve, I started praising Melo.


Works every time.

As I scooted them into the house, I promptly informed them that they lost all school drop-off privileges for one full week.

They might not understand now, but they will tomorrow morning.


Tessa's last few days have been.....up and down.

I sit all day with my teeth clenched because she desats so much. I just want to help her.

But I can't.

So frustrating.

Her bottle feedings are going okay. She took one full bottle today for the nurse, and two half bottles for me.

Both last night and tonight, she has had periods where she really struggles with breathing.

I planned on attempting thank you notes today. If I owe you one, I am sorry to say it might be a while. It always amazes me how much of a time suck hospitals are. Once I leave, I am not even really sure what I did all day; yet, I am always busy. Regardless, I will get to them eventually but wanted to put out a broad thank you in the meantime.

The sibling pizza party was a blast. They had a doll, complete with leads, in a Giraffe Isolette that the kids could play with. Each sibling got a stuffed animal they could "play doctor" on, as many band aids and you wanted to use, coloring books, crayons, etc. The March of Dimes organizes it, and I know my boys felt great having a tiny bit of BOTH mom and dad's attention. I will put up a few pictures tomorrow from the event, along with a few new ones of my 5lb 13 ounce miracle girl.

Prayer requests:

no infection
easy breathing
hemoglobin levels to rise
a healthy heart

and dogs that don't run away:-)

Happy Friday all!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tessa girl update

Does little describe you anymore when you weigh 5 lb, 11 ounces?

Tessa did not have an echo today.

Sometime I will share the frustration of seeing 9 doctors, with 9 different ideas on how to treat the same child. Add 200 nurses to the equation, and you might never get the same answer twice.

Long story short, our primary neonatolgist did not feel that she needed it. We had a "care conference" today to go over Tessa's progress and goals.

They are taking a wait and see approach on many things.

The constant desaturations-he was, surprisingly, not as alarmed as I was. She is consistently bringing her saturation levels up on her own. Hopefully, as she gets bigger and stronger, this will get better.

Hemoglobin- they have decided to wait on a transfusion, for now. Should she require any additional respiratory support, I am positive she will be receiving one. The hope is that her own bone marrow will kick in soon and start producing red blood cells.

Feedings- she is taking about half of her bottle consistently. We pray that she continues to progress on this front. This ties hand in hand with the saturation/lung development. The stronger her lungs become, the easier feedings will be.

He believes she will go home on a monitor, which is okay with me. I have seen Tessa turn blue far too many times lately to trust her sleeping without one!

I am really excited, and have great joy in my heart, because he asked if we have a bed ready for her.

Which we don't.

But oh, how I am looking forward to putting a bed up in our room for her to come home to! Barring any roadblocks, we could have her home in a month...which means we are over half way there. That makes my heart so happy!

Tessa also had a developmental progress check today. They will do many of these over the next year to make sure she is not falling behind.

One of the activities involves ringing a bell in her ears, to see how long it takes for her to tune it out. Tessa was able to completely ignore it after two times. Apparently, this is quite impressive, and further adds to my hunch that she is going to be a willful child.

How wonderful it was to come home to a meal! Why did I resist this for so long? We got finished with the conference at 6, and my mom had dinner made and the boys eating chicken lasagna when I arrived. It was fantastic to NOT be scrambling for dinner at 6:30, with two starving and crabby kids. I cannot express how big of a blessing that was.

Tomorrow night is the sibling party at the hospital. It only happens once a month, where the hospital whoops it up for siblings of a "sick" child.

They receive a gift bag, have a pizza party, and a special play time designed just for them.

I love that this time is carved out with them in mind. So much of our attention these days goes to Tessa. It is a good reminder that they deserve to be celebrated, too.

That pretty much sums up the Bird family for today. Thank you for continually loving on us all.

Psalm 23:6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Pit

I read a poem, while pregnant with Tessa, called The Pit.

Those days, I walked in despair daily.

The Pit was my constant, and the end felt far, far away.

Although she was still alive and kicking inside of me, I was told so many times that she would not make it that I lived as if I had already lost her.

The pit is full of darkness, heartache and despair, it paralyzes your thoughts, movements and ability to ration. The pit leaves you forever changed, unable to surface the person you once were.

Some of my pre-grief friends gather around the top of the pit, waiting for the old me to appear before their eyes, not understanding what's taking me so long to emerge. After all, in their eyes, I've been in the pit for quite sometime. Yet in my eyes, it seems as if I fell in only yesterday.

Not all of my pre-grief friends are gathered around the top of the pit. Some are helping me with the climb out of the darkness. They climb side by side with me from time to time, but mostly they climb ahead of me, waiting patiently at each plateau. Even with these friends I sometimes wonder if they are also waiting for the pre-grief me to magically appear before their eyes.

Then there are the casual acquaintances, you know the ones who say, "Hi, how are you?" when they really don't care or really want to know. These are the people who sigh in relief, that this happened to me and not them.

My post-grief friends are the ones who climb with me, side by side, inch by inch, out of the pit. They are able to reassure me when I need reassurance, rest when I need resting, and encourage me to move forward when I don't have the strength. They have no expectations, no memories and no recollection of how I "should" be. They want me to get better, to smile more often and find joy in life, but they also accepted the person I've become. The "person" who is emerging from the pit.

Obviously, Tessa's birth was a quick removal from the pit of despair.

The hope and joy she has brought lightened up the burden of her pregnancy.

Thinking back, I realized most of this past year was spent wishing my circumstances were different.

That I had a normal pregnancy.

I would still be carting around my big belly; complaining about my swollen ankles, aching back, and kicks to the rib.

Yesterday, a parent was sharing how Tessa's journey affected her child, and a light bulb went off.
It was the first time I was really thankful to be part of Tessa's story, exactly as it was written.

Oh, what a story, huh?

The testimony of her life and God's goodness to our family struck me so deeply.

I know I will never be the same.

Although someone else's suffering might be uncomfortable, I will never sit back and not help dig them out of the pit, as so many of you did for me.

Thanks especially to this guy, who encouraged me daily, when no other doctor would:

*I secretly hope Tessa falls in love with their little guy, soon to be adopted. He is adorable. The cheeks between the two of them. Sigh.*

A few new prayer requests:

Tessa has had a rough few days, with a TON of desats. Her monitor never stops dinging. So far, they have not put her back on CPAP. If she keeps this up, I am sure it is coming. Please pray for her lungs to open and that she would breathe easily.

They found a heart murmur yesterday, so they will be doing an ECHO tomorrow to see what it is from. Please pray that if it is her PDA, that it will quickly resolve with medicine.

Her hemoglobin is very low (8.2). I would love to avoid another transfusion. This last one caused so many other problems and set her back about two weeks. Not to mention the whole NEC business.

As always, for her to stay free from infections.

Praises: Tessa has started to take bottles. She even took a full 47 mls today! In order to go home, she needs to take all of her feedings by bottle for 48 hours. It feels good to move in the right direction.

Our nurse, Ann, moved us to a new room! It is bigger and has a window. In the sunlight, I do believe I see the true color of her hair.

Verdict: red.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Third Bottle

I sure like these "two steps forward" days.


God is not who I thought he was.

That is a good thing.

Let me explain.

My mom had three kids within three years.

Quite often, I remember her saying "I am at the end of a rapidly fraying rope."

Last weekend was rough. Josh and I both happened to hit empty at the same time. While trying to be a good mom to all three of my kids, I was definitely at the end of my rapidly fraying rope.

I have a hard time accepting help. I would rather kill myself then admit I can't do it all.

Recently, people have been asking if we needed meals. Josh and I have both put off these well intentioned folks.

Part of it was sheer exhaustion. I lacked the organization to coordinate who was coming, on what days, at what times. I never know when I am going to be home, and that changes daily based on how Tessa is.

The other, larger part, is that I feel like we have been so blessed and well taken care of. I don't want to wear out my welcome.

But, God knew what I needed.

He has done that over and over again. I can think back to so many different examples of how God has been faithful, even before I asked.

Groceries has been one of the harder things to keep up with. Night after night, I would open the pantry and see two pop tarts, spaghetti noodles, and a box of stuffing.

....and promptly head to McDonalds.

A few friends took it upon themselves to set up a meal schedule.

If you should feel inclined to help out, please e-mail Ann Steenwyk, who has so graciously offered to organize it.

Thank you to everyone that has brought meals this far. We remain so grateful.

And because I love to share photos of Miss Tessa, I cannot leave you without a few favorites from today.

Look Grandma! No CPAP!

Matthew 6:25-26 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.