A mom’s gratitude to her friends and family

“Perfection.”  My dear friend Jen sent me that word in response to a picture of Avery I sent her today.   How true that is.   As I type this post, Avery Rose sleeps in her Moses basket in front of me.   Perfection indeed.

Avery stretched out for an afternoon nap.

Riley protecting his new family member. "Good dog."

My heart overflows with love and deep gratitude for all of your friendship, generosity, prayers, kindness, and support over the last 5+ months, and for the love and support that is ongoing.  The blessings have come in large and small ways from those we know well, those we know casually, and those we have never met.  It’s humbling and such a gift.   Every message that has started with, “We have never met, but…” has touched me so deeply.   At this point, over 52,000 people have read some or all of this story.  Amazing.

Avery's Christmas Stocking - 2010

Grammy finally gets to hold her newest Granddaughter on Christmas day after 5 long months. Happiness.

Pap has waited a long time for this moment of pure joy. (And he sure does tell some good stories!)

Grammy and Big Sister Maddie helping Avery with her pacifier.

Daddy reading Robert Frost poems to Avery on Christmas day. Priceless.

Please forgive me for not writing personal thank you notes yet to each and every one of you for all that you have done, delivered, dropped by, hand-made, cooked, donated, and communicated.

Thanks to Mike, Andrea, Aaron, and friends for all the dog walks! Boof!

I’d like to think that I could personally tell each and every one of you how much you mean to me, Quin, and to my family.   Yet, for all of the emotionally and physically exhausted mothers in the NICU who I’ve heard say, “I feel so guilty for not writing more thank you notes…”  I’m personally going to release all of us NICU moms from that extra weight and stress by saying it here….

Family and Friends who care…I love you and appreciate you.  You know who you are.   I know who you are.   I will not forget.

I know your spirit and your hearts, and it means so much more than I could possibly articulate.  Please honor our childrens’ struggle by continuing to do the same for others in need.  It matters.  It makes a difference.  It really does.  Really.

In addition to the absence of hundreds of thank you notes, please forgive me for not replying to every text, email, or voice mail during this time of trial.   I do appreciate you and will never forget your kindness.  I told Avery continuously about your generosity and kindness while she was still in the hospital, and will tell her stories about you for years to come.

She is perfect because she has been strengthened by mountains of prayer.  She will always know that.

Please continue to visit and comment on our blog as you can….each word lifts us up, keeps us believing in her future, and is being saved for our miracle baby to read with her own eyes someday (although it requires your email address, you will not receive emails and no one else can see the address you input).  Avery’s long journey does not end with her arrival at our home.  She will no doubt have trials and triumphs for years to come.   Each expression of caring and love we receive will become part of our child’s legacy and a source of strength for future generations of our family.

With every gesture or kind word, no matter how small, you have each taught me how to care for others during times of need, grief, exhaustion, and joy.   I am so grateful.  I will “pay it forward.”  You are beautiful and allow me to believe in God and goodness even during the difficult moments.

When you think you “don’t know what to say” when those you love are in pain, please remember that you don’t have to say anything.  Just be there.  Just listen.  Just be present.  Just be judgement-free.   Just care and pray.  Just take the extra second to send that note of love.  Your presence in our life is your gift.

The simple acts and random kindness from those near and far and have meant so much to us.  Small things are huge during times of immense emotional, spiritual, and physical tolls.  We will do the same for others in the future because of your caring and the lessons you have taught us about how to help.  Each token, every email, every card, and every word has been saved to be turned into a keepsake book for Avery.   It will be massive.   It will be so full of love.

A very special thank you to Patrick Niehus at AE Strategies for your unwavering commitment and wealth of kindness.  You are a rare and beautiful soul who continually and authentically exemplifies integrity.   Many thanks to our City of Alexandria Police family for your friendship, support, and for so beautifully “caring for your own.”   In particular, Andrea, you are so amazing and special.  I pray that Avery’s heart grows to be as generous as yours.

My heart is peaceful and so full through all of your generosity of spirit and all of your thoughtful actions.  Through this experience, I am even more intimately aware and deeply connected to how blessed my family is.  I pray that I can be the same pillar of strength to each of you someday in return.

From an overjoyed, appreciative heart…

Thank you!”


Watching football with Daddy the same way Mommy does (napping!)

Full of love. At home at last.

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11 Responses to A mom’s gratitude to her friends and family

  1. Barbara Pope says:

    Best wishes to you and your family. Reading your posts has reminded me of what we went through years ago when our sons were both born with health problems. One is now almost 21 and the other is 17, yet I remember it all as it if was yesterday. I am so sad for your loss and so thrilled for Avery. I will continue to pray for you. God bless you and all those that have been with you on your journey!

  2. Rebecca (Hill) McKown says:

    That was a sweet post. I hope you continue to update us on little Avery.

  3. Debbie Dye says:

    I have really enjoyed reading about Avery, Sienna and your family’s journey thus far and also hope you will keep us updated on her progress. You are a very special and strong family. God has had his hand on all of you through this and will continue to hold you in his hands.

  4. Emma says:

    I am so happy everytime I come to this site and there’s another happy story about precious Avery and a beautiful picture. We have never met and never will but she’s always in my thoughts and prayers. Good Luck to your amazing family.

  5. Krista (Kirkum) Schwenzer says:

    We have never met but I have been reading your story since the very beginning. I am so sorry for the loss of Sienna but also so happy for all the progress Avery has made. Your family inspires me. I can’t imagine going through as much as you have all been through in the last 5 months or so. You are all so strong. I’m glad to hear that Avery is home and doing well and hopefully things just keep getting better and better for all of you from here on out. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing your touching story. I look forward to reading more as Avery grows.

  6. Erin and Steven Shillingburg says:

    I hope to one day meet you (hopefully sooner rather then later) and give you the hug i have wanted to give you from day one! every post i have read has touched my heart. i hope to continue reading updates about Avery and youre family and share them with others who have also been following in this journey!

    hugs and prayers as always

    Erin Shillingburg

  7. You thank us, but I thank you. Your strength and positive spirit has taught us so much. You have reminded me to be more appreciative for all my blessings every single day, even the trivial things or even things that I viewed as challenges in the past. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for the inspiration. God Bless you and your family.

  8. Shirley says:

    Leigh said it perfectly. Thank YOU for sharing so openly and generously that in addition to being in touch with what is happening, we have been blessed to witness your love and strength and faith. You are a very special family. You are inspirational to so many.

  9. Hilda says:

    Robin, Quintin,
    I saw you both sometime in Aug in the NICU family lounge. I was with Lily and Ezra and she sent me this link to Avery and Sienna that i have been following religiously for months. I want you to know i am so sad for your loss of Sienna and at the same time very happy that Avery is home. Like others said i hope you will continue to update us on her progress. She is a very special! May God continue to bless you all!

  10. First, I love all the pictures…especially the ones at Christmas with Avery and her grandparents. Love.

    I honestly just smile everytime I think of Avery at home with you both. What a miracle. And I’ll never forget her sister Sienna, even though I never met her.

    Hoping for a smooth ride for all of you going forward – and that the short visit back to the hospital is the last one. I can’t wait until spring so that Avery and Andrew can have their first play date!

    I love your blog, and how honest you and Quin have been. The post about her coming home had me crying happy tears. I think about you guys all the time…I’ve said it before that besides our miracle children, the best thing to come of months in the NICU is the amazing people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet. You both are amazing parents, and great friends! John and I are blessed to have met you.

  11. Jen says:

    I feel so special to be quoted in Avery’s blog 🙂 I agree 100% w/ Leigh’s posting… I could not have said it better but it is exactly how I feel too!! xoxo

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