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.