January 20, 2017
Where do I begin? Well, you all know the beginning of the story, so I guess I don’t need to start there. Just as a recap, though:
Tina entered our lives on November 23, 2016 weighing in at a measly 1.05 kg (2 pounds, 5 ounces). By birthday, she was 1 ½ weeks old – by gestation she was between 28 and 29 weeks. She was itty-bitty; preemie clothes swallowed her up.
Tina came from Mercy Rescue Trust, the same children’s home Chloë came from. The arrangement was for Roger and I to take care of her until approximately her due date (which would have been February 12 – ish) so we could give her some one-on-one love and care until she was a bit stronger and more, well, robust.
Tina could barely cry when she first arrived. She didn’t have the muscle tension of a full-sized newborn. Most newborns, when you lay them on their backs, bring their feet up by bending their knees, and bring their arms in to their chest. Tina just lay flat. We had to wake her every 3 hours around the clock at first in order to feed her through her feeding tube, but within a couple of weeks she was strong enough to not need the tube.
Tina gained strength and size quickly. By Dec 11, she weighed nearly 3 pounds; by December 19 she weighed just barely over 4 pounds; by January 6th she weighed 5 pounds, 11 ounces; and by Wednesday, January 18 – 8 weeks after she arrived at our home - she weighed just over 6 ½ pounds!
As you can imagine, Tiny Tina totally worked her way into our hearts. By this past Wednesday, she basically looked like a small newborn…but with more experience and knowledge in her face. She was active, followed our voices, maintained eye-contact, and was beginning to reach out to bat at and grab things – like my hair J
Because Roger was going to be away to spend time at RVA with Amy and Josiah this weekend, I had called Jedidah (the director of Mercy Rescue Trust) to ask if she could take Tina for the weekend because while Tina had graduated from every 3 hours to every 4 hours for feedings, doing that around the clock while still taking care of my own toddler by myself for 4 days was daunting. Jedidah had told us all along that if we ever needed a break, to just let her know. But because we were only three weeks away from her due-date anyway, we decided to go ahead and make Wednesday, January 18th, Tina’s turn-over date.
All day long I kept thinking, “This is the last time I’ll do this….,” and “That’s the last time I’ll do that…” I held her a lot that day – and cried some when I let myself think too much…like I am now…
We had Jedidah over for dinner, I gave Tina one last bottle from me, and then we said good-bye. I had warned Jedidah that I would cry. We talked a little bit about it before she left. She, too, felt a bit strange – taking a healthy baby from a loving family environment and taking her to a children’s home just seemed wrong. But as I said to Jedidah, there is a family out there who needs her – and whom she needs.
I miss that tiny person sleeping in the bassinet in my room. I’ve actually had time to make some curtains, some throw pillows…sleep… but I wouldn’t give up my time with Tina for anything in the world.
A lot of people said they could never do what we did because they would get too attached and it would hurt too much to let the child go. Yes, you could. Does it hurt? Like the dickens. I almost felt as if I were giving up my own child… I was her “womb” for 8 weeks, after all. There’s an ache – an emptiness inside me and in our home. Even Chloë was asking about “Tia” today. But there is also a joy that comes from knowing we gave this precious child a chance at life.
I’ll admit it’s difficult not knowing what her future will be. Will she go to a family who loves her? Will her father love her? Will she get an education? Will she go to church? Will it be a church that teaches her the truth? Will she know Jesus as her Savior? The first and last questions are the ones that weigh heaviest on my heart – and they are things I have no control over. I know Jedidah and the staff at Mercy Rescue will do their very best to place Tina in a loving home, but some things we have to just leave in God’s hands and be willing to not know. Like David in Psalm 131, I must not concern myself with things that are too profound for me. I don’t know God’s plans…but I have to trust them as I rest quietly in Him.
I do know I will be praying for her. I also know I’d do this again…even though it hurts…because there is greater joy in obedience and love.
You won’t remember me, precious Tina, but I will remember you; you will forever be a part of my heart. God go with you, Precious One. Mama Julie loves you.
|This is Tina the day we got her. Poor baby spent a week and a half in the hospital not getting very good care.|
|She was so tiny. The pictures don't do justice to how very little she was. You can kind of see by my thumb there. Her calf was the same circumference as my finger. Her preemie clothes totally swallowed her up.|
|This is Roger, Me, Chloë and Tina just before we said good-bye.|
|Not the greatest picture, but I love this one of Chloë holding Tina. She was so excited! But she just wrapped her arms around her and said, "Awww...baby..." and she would pat her very tenderly. It was really sweet.|