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It makes it all a little sweeter

We had a little scare last week with Stella, and preterm labor. It was Thursday night and I had complained to Ron of a worsening back ache since around lunch. The back ache became so bad by bed time that I could hardly roll over. I had listened to our Stella Grace on out fetal Doppler and she sounded great so off to slumber I went. When I was awaken at 4:30 with an Alert that school was being closed due to the snow storm I went to the bathroom and realized I was still feeling awful but now I was feeling completely nauseated as well. I was able to go back to sleep and was relieved to know I had a doctor’s appointment in Lansing in just a few hours. When I finally woke at 8am I woke to the kids laughing and enjoying their day off and all the snow that covered our yard and street, however I also awoke with severe pain on my belly. It was a cramping that was coming and going but would stop me in my tracks when it came. I tried to relax and get ready but I knew something was wrong. I loaded the girls in the car for the trip into Lansing to see grandma and grandpa while I went to the doctor. The roads were awful and it hadn’t stopped snowing in our area traffic was moving slow and panic began to grow in me as I drove closer to Lansing and further from Royal Oak. In Brighton I called Doctor Maser, Ron and my mom to tell them. I was in pain fearing I was in labor and driving my girls in the snow storm. Ryan was scared! She began to cry with worry about me as Paige talked nonstop with nerves. I told them mommy was ok and driving very safe it would be fine. After a 2 hour drive in that would typically only take an hour. My mom and dad met us at the Okemos exit where my mom drove me to the doctor and my dad took the girls to his house. We walked in and were seen immediately and given an ultrasound Stella had turned head down and her head was in my pelvis so no pictures as we couldn’t see her face anymore. I was contracting and sent to labor and delivery. I was there all day trying to stop the progression of labor. My contractions had moved from every 5 minutes t every 2 minutes I was give the maximum dose of Terbutaline a drug used to stop labor. This however didn’t work they changed to the drug Procardia and after several fast and furious doses this did slow them down. I was now however nausea’s not able to keep any food or drink down, had the horrible body shakes, and a migraine headache. I was able to go home on oral Procardia to keep the contractions at bay and it seems to be working as of now.

We have our Florida trip around the corner and just need to make it through this. I was given enough medicine to hopefully conquer our trip. I really need a vacation.

Funny when you think about things, it is so easy for some people to have children. Not for me and yet here I am on carrying my 5th amazing blessing and I swear I am more excited than ever. I feel like I was put on this earth to love and nurture and I don’t mind fighting for everything I have been given. It makes it all a little sweeter. Oh and the sweeter part also MSU basketball beat Michigan!

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The sweet face of Congenital Heart Disease

February 1st, is the start of Heart Disease Awareness Month.  In this post I want to show you the face of Congenital heart Disease as well as share facts about CHD.

I have never shared this video with anyone except Ron and the kids.  I thought everyone needs to see the sweet face and hear the cry of a baby born with Congenital Heart Disease, in our case Hypoplastic Right Heart syndrome. This is the first and only video we have of Elijah Thomas crying and with out tubes hooked all over him. This is the video that shows the first minutes after Elijah was born and in it you can hear Ron speaking to how amazing his little boy is. It is hard for us to watch this video and see how Elijah’s little life went but I feel it is important to show that he looked like a healthy baby with a bright future ahead of him. The tragic fact is he wasn’t.

Team Elijah rocking their red!

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Congenital Heart Defect:  Facts & Statistics

♥  Congenital heart defects are America’s #1 birth defect. Nearly one of every 100 babies is born with a CHD.

♥  Congenital heart defects are the #1 cause of birth defect related deaths.

♥  This year almost 35,000 babies will be born with a congenital heart defect. 3,500 of them will not live to see their first birthday.

♥  91,000 life years are lost each year in this country due to congenital heart defects.

♥  The cost for inpatient surgery to repair congenital heart defects exceeds $2.2 billion a year.

♥  Congenital heart defects occur frequently and are often life threatening, yet research into them is grossly under funded.

♥  Of every dollar the government spends on medical funding only a fraction of a penny is directed toward congenital heart defect research.

♥  In the last decade death rates for congenital heart defects have declined by almost 30% due to advances made through research.

♥  More than 50% of all children born with a congenital heart defect will require at least one invasive surgery in their lifetime.

♥  There are 35 different types of congenital heart defects. Little is known about the cause of most them. There is not yet a cure for any of them.

♥  In the U.S., twice as many children die from congenital heart defects each year than from all forms of childhood cancer combined, yet funding for pediatric cancer research is five times higher than funding for CHD.

A lot of research has been done and relayed onto expecting mothers in regards to preventing CHD. I know for a fact with Elijah I did everything possible to prevent this horrible disease and  still Elijah was born with a CHD, one of the most severe forms HRHS. I took my Folic acid for three months prior to conception as well as my prenatal vitamins, I cut caffeine and soda out of my diet, I do not smoke, and rarely drink alcohol, and never do once I am expecting, I exercised and our families have no history of this defect, yet we were given Elijah. I believe God sent him for a reason, as I fully define what that reason is I will try my hardest to help fight CHD as well as find a cure for this horrible disease that is the #1 cause of birth related deaths in the United States. Tomorrow is national wear red for Heart Disease day and I hope you will help bring awareness as well as I to help stop this disease.

Elijah lives through our family as the voice to help others so they don’t have to experience the pain that comes along with having a child with a CHD and losing a child. Elijah has brought people together in love and support, he has brought people back to their faith, but his life still can do more. I am open for ideas on how to help fund raise for this over looked disease. If you have Ideas or would like to help please contact me.

Elijah, we love you and miss you everyday! We never stop thinking of you!

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Team Terariser in full effect sporting their red Ribbons for Baby E!

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Team Kingsley!

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Lexi

IMG_0409   It is another birthday week in our family, this time it’s Lexi’s turn. Lexi turns 11 on Monday. Though I was not there to tell about her birth and struggle she did have one. Ronnie and Pat have told me a lot about Lexi’s birth and early days. Becky went into labor but the doctors could not stop it. Ronnie explained it as rushing around and being very scared. Lexi was born at 28 weeks gestation and weighed in at 2lbs.  Though she arrived early she was born healthy and able to breathe on her own. Only assisted by a c-pap machine.  Her main hurdle’s were gaining weight, learning to suck, and monitoring her CO2 saturation. After several weeks in the Neo-Natal unit Lexi was finally released weighting in at 4lbs 2oz.

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I remember the first time I ever met Lexi it was almost 4 years ago to the date and Lexi had just turned 7 years old. We met while at our friends Jim and Cecilia’s house to watch a MSU basketball game. Lexi  was wearing a jean skirt with leggings and a pair of bedazzled high tops. She was full of energy and we both practiced back walk overs, splits and other various gymnastics moves in Jim’s basement.  I played with all the little girls in the basement,while the other adults watched the game. Every time I would try to watch the game for a moment Lexi would come and ask me to play with her.  After the party we went to the mall and to a movie with her dad and I also remember Lexi reaching up and holding my hand out of the blue. It was at this moment I remember thinking, it was going to be easy to love this little girl and so it began. The slow bond that one forms with a child that is not of your womb. The learning of each other, the trust that is formed, the love that follows.

Lexi in four short years has grown in so many ways not only the physical growth but also the emotional growth. Becoming a step sister on both sides of her family, going from being an only child for 8 years to having 5 step siblings learning to share not only parents but more  the struggle with toys and belongings. She has done a wonderful job with this and has formed wonderful bonds and friendships with everyone. She has also had her brothers births. Becky had Mason in December 2011 and Lexi seemed to be a natural at being a big sister. She loves her brother and talks all the time about the funny little things he does and never complains about anything dealing with Mason. She tells of how she would do anything to protect Mason and it truly touches my heart. I wish she would have had more bonding time with Elijah because I know what an amazing big sister she is.  Lexi is caring, and always worried about how I feel and if Stella is healthy. I can not wait until she is able to hold her sister and fall in love with her.

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I think when you are a step parent you always fear what the children are thinking and feeling. When I look at Lexi I do not fear this. I feel she has been extremely flexible, able to adapt easily and love freely. I know I was able to love her from that first day and I am glad that she has been able to do the same.

When I think of words that describe Lexi I think first of strong. She has been through a lot in her 11 years and has made it look easy. Her dad describes Lexi as resilient, and sweet, but also stubborn or the nicest person. He says she works her magical powers getting out of trouble, she knows how to work a room. But to him she is his miracle girl.  She is kind hearted and loves animals and her family.  She is beautiful and has a contagious laugh. She loves to be tickled and cuddled or have her back scratched. She could swim all day, and loves to draw. Lexi is a blessing and we can’t wait to see what her future will bring. Happy 11th birthday Lexi, we all love you.IMG_0473

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9 months

It is hard to believe that just 9 short months ago our beautiful baby boy entered this world. Not a day or even hour has passed that I don’t think of our amazing Elijah Thomas. In these past months our family has changed in so many ways. We have been forced to grow in ways that no one ever wants to but also needs to.  This makes our family love more, it makes us appreciate more, it makes every joy greater. Our foundation has become even more solid. Things that use to upset us seem so small. I think about carrying Stella inside of me and also not a day or hour has passed that I am not thankful.

Ron and I were talking the other night and I was explaining that it had been a hard day for myself in regards to Elijah and feeling the sadness. The sadness not only for what I had gone through myself but also what Elijah went through. I read a few old post and was transported back to the room and the feeling. I remember clearly sitting next to Elijah’s bed and writing about what we were experiencing.  I remember the fear, the love, the hope, the heartbreak. I remember thinking I can’t share everything because I need people to have hope for Elijah. The truth is we don’t know what would have been in store for Elijah. He went through so much in such a short time, now I do know with all my heart that our special little fighter is in a better place and he is at peace.

Now sitting back after 9 months I think of all the prayers that were said, all the well wishes, all the hope and I think our little Stella Grace has received many of those.  It’s funny now when I feel Stella move inside of me it is nothing like how Elijah did. Eli was always active always pushing back if you touched him showing his fight. Stella is gentle she relaxes when I rub my belly, she seems at peace.  If anyone tries to feel her move and places there hand on my belly she stops it’s like she already is soothed by touch. I think it is from all the love and support we have received from all of you and also from God and Elijah her angel watching over his little sister. What a comfort and it is one I will always let her know.

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Stella Grace 24 weeks

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Intention

The word intention has been put in front of me a lot lately by family and friends. Choices that others are making that leave us wondering.  It has made me have to stop and think about this word and what it means. Intention is defined as

  1. A thing intended; an aim or plan.
  2. The action or fact of intending.

But what does that mean when we put it to life. What our intentions are in relationships, as parents, friends, spouses? Intention shapes our life and we don’t even fully realize it. How we behave changes people even if it isn’t our intention to do so. Choices we make, can alter so much. We see it in movies with our friends and family, it is easy to spot from the outside looking in but what about if you are the person who is in the middle?

My intention in to raise my children to be strong faithful adults. To love their family, to treat others kindly, to be hard workers, to forgive, to help others, to treat others the way they want to be treated. Am I on path for this I wonder? I look at my life and see mistakes that I make daily no one is perfect. I do not have a crystal ball.  It is my intention to have a strong marriage build on an unwavering foundation, Ron and I take steps daily to ensure this but are we doing enough?  I ask my kids daily if they are making good choices in their life or I remind them to make good choices. Am I making good choices? All I can do is daily evaluate what my intentions are for the benefit of myself and the others around me, to trust in God to lead me.

Here is a song asking for help in these matters.

Lead Me by Sanctus Real

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2012

My thoughts always fill my head before sleep. Last night was no different. As I lay trying not to vomit and just breath, as every muscle in my body ached from falling down the front steps in the snow storm and my new Tracey Anderson pregnancy project workout, my head was filled with 2012 and all that has happened. It was truly a year of despair, of love, of learning, listening, and feeling. Not only did we experience great joy we experienced great heartache.

2012 started out with the news of Elijah and Paige both being very ill. The end of January brought the death of Ron’s Sido (Grandma) after a long stay in hospice. February and March brought almost daily doctor appointments between myself and Paige. April came and so did Elijah, I remember being so relieved and happy the moment I saw and heard Eli screaming his little lungs out and thinking he was the most beautiful boy. his head of dark hair his cherub checks his full lips. How was it possible to have such and perfectly beautiful baby have a broken heart??? He didn’t look sick he looked perfect, it was true love. Through the next two weeks we were faced with fear, happiness, love, hope, the words no parent wants to ever hear “it’s time, he is suffering and we can do no more”. The end of April the greatest loss, and heartbreak. May brought more unknown feelings, questions, love, and support. My sales team was let go, and I didn’t even have the job I loved. Summer came and so did some relief of pain. I was able to spend quality time with the kids, My 35th birthday was in June and independence day around the corner. Our wonderful friends and family had surrounded us  and provided us a safe place where we were free to mourn, free to laugh, free to come back to ourselves. July brought a new job in my industry, it also brought a new little miracle growing inside me. I could feel the tide changing starting in July of the good things that were to come. The light was coming up in  out life’s. Paige had her first clean blood test and hadn’t loss any more weight. School started the kids were happy and smiling. Ron and I could once again take a breathe without feeling the ache in our chests. October brought more good news as Stella’s CVS came back normal, and then in early December with a good level II ultrasound and fetal echo-cardiogram.  Paige had three perfect blood tests and gained 2 1/2 pounds!!!! Christmas came and we had all the kids for Christmas eve and Christmas morning. The family attended Christmas eve service at Riverview and Noel spoke about the light we all are and how we were given this gift when Jesus was born. What a perfect message for our family since it is what I refer to all the time in my writing and words to the kids and to you all. As we all turned on the little lights we were each given I could see how the light has been coming up since June. We laughed, we loved, we sang, we cherished each other and all we have. We were Thankful.

I hope 2013 is the year for all of us and may the light shine on us all!

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Stella Rocks!

Well I will get right to it Stella Rocks! We had our level II ultrasound today as well as the fetal echo cardiogram, both came back perfect. We have a little rock star on our hands. Stella measured in the 50th percentile and had a perfect heart! What a relief, I just laid on the table and cried with happiness, relief, peace, so many other emotions. Ron and I haven’t stopped smiling since we left!

It was a restless night of sleep for both Ron and myself. I have been struggling with sleep through the entire pregnancy to be honest. Two nights ago I had a dream about Stella Grace, in the dream a whole group of our family and friends are singing over Stella who lays wrapped in front of us. We are singing the song “This is grace” by Matt Hammitt. In a earlier post named Grace which was wrote after Elijah’s passing I speak of this song. The part that gets me the most in the song is when Matt sings, “This is grace, this is grace, when we walk through the dark night. This is grace, this is grace, so we wait for the sun rise. I have faith the sun will rise.” I believe this was God letting me know the sun would rise on our family today and it did!

I have spoke several times about how we chose our babies names again today I remember why we chose her name Stella Grace.

Stella means star

Grace 

Definition: The exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor; disposition to benefit or serve another; favor bestowed or privilege conferred.

Grace 

Definition: The divine favor toward man; the mercy of God, as distinguished from His justice; also, any benefits His mercy imparts; divine love or pardon; a state of acceptance with God; enjoyment of the divine favor.

Grace 

Definition: Beauty, physical, intellectual, or moral; loveliness; commonly, easy elegance of manners; perfection of form.

Last I want to thank everyone who prayed for us! Those of you who have supported us throughout this year, and wished us well or sent positive thoughts in our direction, IT WORKED SO FAR!!!!

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Stella singing to us! 12-12-12

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Feelings, thoughts, and dreams

The pregnancy and our lives are moving along at a rapid pace it hard to believe I am a couple of days shy of 19 weeks along, about half way there! Over the last week I have been struggling with sickness still, even going into be treated for nausea and dehydration (this is while I am still taking my medicine to help combat the nausea). My belly is swelling and everyday I am getting bigger and bigger. Stella is kicking and I can feel her a few times everyday. I have a heart monitor that I used with Elijah so I can listen to her heart beat every morning and night typically around 150 beats a minute. I have faith she is growing stronger everyday!

I write today because I have been having a hard time sleeping the last couple of nights due to my constant dreams. I am dreaming of Elijah a lot again. Reliving all we went through which would wake anyone up. I am looking down on the situation and watching it unfold, I wonder if this is because everyday we are getting closer to Stella Grace’s heart scan. The scan is scheduled for next Wednesday the 12th of December. I have also been asked to write about our experience with ECMO. I realize this is something I would have to work on greatly to be able to share, it is not an experience Ron or I ever want to relive, so maybe this request has triggered my dreams. Though I try to push thoughts and the scared feelings away I must be holding on to them for my sleep. I really do believe Stella is healthy in my heart but it is my subconscious that is making me nervous.

I know I ask for your help a lot, and again today I am asking for our friends and loved ones to pray for God’s grace on our family and for our precious Stella. “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep water in the day of my disaster the Lord was my support. He brought me into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:16-19

I can’t wait to come here next week and share our findings!

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Faith

I know it was only last week I wrote for Thanksgiving and here I am so soon with another post, crazy :). As I was sitting this morning eating my shredded wheat the phone rang and I saw it was “Maser’s Office”, if you forgot Dr Maser is my OBGYN and has been a part of every pregnancy in my life and is really starting to feel like family. However my heart started beating faster because I knew he had test results from my last blood work. We were testing for Neural Tube defects. As I heard Lisa his MA say “Tera we got the results”I found it impossible to speak (another crazy scenario I know), and time seemed to stand still. I had enough time to think in my head, Oh God please let Stella be OK, please don’t let Lisa have bad news. My heart was pounding and the ever familiar feeling of my throat constricting and  tightening of my chest. Then she said it “you tested negative for any Neural Tube defects”. I almost cried instantly but held it back and instead was just so relieved and thankful for yet more good news.  I told Lisa how nervous/scared I was and I think we were both thinking how relieved we were to have this news.

Two months ago I had made an unexpected trip to Dr Maser because I have had spotting from the beginning with Stella. He always has me come in and run a scan to make sure all is well, so far so good! This day two months ago as my sister Wendy and I sit together in the “room of doom” as I call it, due to the fact it was were I was told Elijah had a Cystic Hygroma and my life was changed forever. Dr Maser said this is an appointment of good news, we are going to have “Good news only today!”. Will I ever feel good news is going to happen again, or am I really changed that much?

Five years ago I was given a gift from my sister and I know many of you may have seen me wear it, it is my “Faith Necklace”. This necklace has brought me peace in many situations were I have felt loss or like my life was out of control. It is a reminder to me to have faith that God is working in my favor. I might not realize it in the situation but I will in the end. When I was admitted to U of M for preterm labor with Elijah it was unexpected and I was not packed and didn’t have my necklace. The day after Elijah suffered his heart attack at two days old my sister asked me where my necklace was knowing I needed to be reminded of my “Faith”, I called my mom and asked her to find it and bring it to me. When she brought it that evening I went into the private bathroom in the hospital 30 feet from Elijah’s bed and locked myself in. I placed the necklace on and got down on my knees and prayed “Please God, you know what is best and though I want Elijah for myself, I have Faith you are all knowing and I trust you” I sat back on my knees with my heels in my butt and my head in my hands, and the peace filled me. I felt strong and ready to be lead. I spoke of naming Stella, Faith because of this necklace but in the end didn’t want to make Stella a picture of my Faith because that comes from with in me.

Stella Grace, Elijah and my necklace, pictures that show my Faith

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Thanksgiving

Yesterday while I was working an idea popped into my head, as I was thinking about how thankful I was for such amazing children. You see I was looking over their report cards and before I knew it I had a lump in my throat. Every one of the kids had received outstanding marks in personal behavior, social development, work habits, listening and sharing ideas. I read phrases from the teachers about what a “pleasure it was to have them in class”, “demonstrates a hard work ethic”, “spreads joy”, “Outstanding citizenship”, “interacts well with classmates”, “Leader”…etc. As a parent I love to see “A’s” of course or the number “5” or “exceeds expectations”, however what moves me the most is that we are raising kids with love, respect, discipline, honor, rules and good morals. This is the area I think shapes us the most. I began to cry as I thought about all we/they have been through a divorce of their parents at a young age, a remarriage and merge of family, disease diagnosis, the loss of a sibling. I use to feel guilt for all the kids have been through in their young lives but yesterday that somehow changed and began to see to that yes they had been through so much but it has made them better people. Yes as a parent we hate when our kids are sad and never wish this, however that is the time for growth. Showing love to one another, not giving in to a rule or making an exception because they had it rough, teaching respect to you and one another, showing dedication and what hard work looks like. These are lessons that every day I work on with myself, bettering myself. I pray to learn and listen to others; I pray that my family feels my love and dedication to them and our community, I share stories of other families that struggle and we pray for those in need. After so much though and happy tears yesterday I decided last night to have the kids sit down and write 20 things they were most thankful for.

Carter wrote he is most thankful for his family, friends, food, water, house …etc. Some of the most moving one for me on his list were Hospitals and doctors that take care of Paige and mom, and took care of Eli.

Paige wrote she was thankful for her family, friends, house, water, air…etc. The part that was awesome about Paige was she is most grateful for love, life, and of course her red hair. This out of the child that is ill, her disease has taught her to value her life even more and not to take it for granted.

Ryan wrote she is thankful for her  mom, Ron, Dad, Paige, Carter, Izzo, Grandma, Grandpa, cousins, her friend Max and Katie…you get the picture…haha. However at the end she wrote she was thankful for having fun, school, her teachers, and the police.

I wanted to write was I was thankful for.

  1. My faith, where would I be without this?
  2. My husband who loves me unconditionally, and will always let me cry on his chest. He is the best listener, and doesn’t judge. He makes me feel safe. He is also sooo handsome!
  3. My children, who are my greatest gift! They challenge me to be better daily, they love freely, they bring so much joy that my heart is overflowing.
  4. My precious Elijah, who I carried in me for almost 36 weeks and bonded then but also for the most memorable 12 days I have ever had. I am thankful for this time and what I was taught.Elijah you were the strongest person I have ever known
  5. My parents, they raised me in the safest environment where every day I was loved, I could be free, I could learn, but I had rules. I strive daily to raise my children with my own childhood in mind.
  6. My friends, you listen, you hold my hand, we laugh, we cry!
  7. God’s grace, I have Stella Grace growing inside me because of this. I feel the love and hope that comes from this. It pushes me forward.
  8. Doctors and staff. There are too many of you to name. You work daily to save lives. You keep Paige and Stella growing, not to mention healing us all. You show us compassion and you try to save lives but when you can’t you are honest and graceful.
  9. My In-laws, You have welcomed all of us with seamless transition. You were there for us when we needed you; you provide us strength, and love.
  10. My Siblings, this is one is where I have a hard time saying all I feel. I feel the greatest support. Love and comfort knowing you are there for me.
  11. My job, I have a job I love with the best boss and team I could ask for. It is flexible and always changing keeping me thinking and never bored.
  12. My Grandma, she has been such an amazing teacher and woman to have as an example. She raised a family that is full of heart that is caring and dedicated to each other.
  13. My nieces and nephews, who bring me joy and a warm my heart.
  14. My entire family!

My list could go on but I think you got the picture.  Have a happy Thanksgiving and remember all you have to be thankful for.

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