Mom Hair Monday: Braided Bun Tutorial

I absolutely LOVE this Braided Bun tutorial by The Vintage Modern Wife! She breaks it down into a few easy steps that helped me take my hair from drab to fab in 5 minutes! Check it out for #momhairmonday!

This past week has been an absolute crazy one. We had Addie’s birthday party over the weekend and it was INSANE (in a good way!) We are still absolutely exhausted from it, but it was such a wonderful day, and I’m proud of myself for not freaking out over everything like I usually would. Yesterday, after a glorious nap, I wanted a no-fuss updo for my hair that was functional yet cute, and so I came up with this braided bun. It’s SO easy to do and will take you 5 minutes or less. Out of all the hairstyles so far, this one is the easiest. Great for home, work, happy hour- you name it- it’s perfect.

I absolutely LOVE this Braided Bun tutorial by The Vintage Modern Wife! She breaks it down into a few easy steps that helped me take my hair from drab to fab in 5 minutes! Check it out for #momhairmonday!

Makeup: Foundation- Benefit Big Easy in Fair, Concealer- Tarte CC Undereye Collector  in Light-Medium, Brows- Anastasia Brow Wiz in Taupe, Eyeshadow- Naked on the Run, Eyeliner- MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack, Mascara- Benefit Rollerlash, Blush-Urban Decay Naked Flushed, Highlighter- Benefit Sunbeam, Lipstick- MAC Speaklouder

Remember: The goal of Mom Hair Monday? To give you a cute, functional hairstyle that will take you from drab to fab in 5 minutes. 5 minutes is all we have, right moms? I’ll be showing you my tried and true hairstyles that are no fuss but look like you put in a ton of effort. The third installment of Mom Hair Monday starts NOW and is the braided bun.

What will you need for the Braided Bun?

2 clear elastics, 1 regular hair elastic, Bobby pins, Brush (I love the Wet Brush), and a Rat Tail Comb

Here’s how to do it:

1. Part your hair to the side. Afterward, divide your hair into 3 sections- a back, and two sides. The sides will be parted behind the ear.

2. Brush the back section and put into a tight, low ponytail. Secure with your hair elastic.

3. Split your ponytail in half by parting your hair above the elastic to create a hole. Grab the ends of your ponytail and pull the ponytail straight up and feed it through the hole. This makes the topsy-turvy ponytail from the 90s that I’m sure you fondly remember.

4. Depending on the length of your hair, you’ll need to repeat this several times. Then, pin it in place with a few bobby pins (inside the bun).

5. Take each side section and braid your hair with a traditional 3 strand braid. Secure them with your clear elastics.

6. Take the braids and one by one and take it over the bun and then under the bun. Pin each in place.

I absolutely LOVE this Braided Bun tutorial by The Vintage Modern Wife! She breaks it down into a few easy steps that helped me take my hair from drab to fab in 5 minutes! Check it out for #momhairmonday!

So there you have it- the Braided Bun tutorial. I promise you’ll be able to do this on your first try AND you’ll want to do the Braided Bun more often and it’ll be easy enough for you to do in 5 minutes (or less). Let me know if you try it, and make sure to come back next Monday for another Mom Hair Monday hairstyle!

 

Addie Turns One: A Letter from Your Papa

The touching story of Addie, the little girl who spent 10 months in the hospital before going home, is chronicled through her father's story in this heartfelt letter of love, heartbreak, and renewal for her 1 year birthday. A good read for all who have experienced long-term hospital life.

There are times in every man’s life that are life-altering, life-changing, life-crashing. That first date. The first time you kiss a girl. The first time you drive on your own with no one else. The first time your heart gets broken. Your first speeding ticket. That perfect moment when you get down on one knee. That breathtaking pause until she says yes and you can breathe again. Moments like these can stop a man’s heart cold and remind him just how alive he really is.

There are moments in a man’s life however, that show him how incredible life truly is. For me that moment was when Stephanie blindly led me into our apartment and told me that we were going to have a baby. In that very moment my world came into life, burst into flame, went to the clouds, came crashing down, gave me purpose. Everything in my life to that point seems so meaningless. I was about to embark on a journey that would take me to heights and valleys I could have never dreamed of.

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on


So many people have followed my perfect wife and my amazing daughter since this journey began, but so many do not know the other side of the story. The story of a man struggling to hold himself together and be the father, husband, and provider that God meant for him to be. His story is full of love and laughter, but also full of hurt and heartbreak. His story is my own, and I want to share with the world, and with my gorgeous daughter, Addison Olivia, the story of how from the moment of discovery, to your first birthday, your father’s life has traveled.
That first moment I discovered I was going to be a father my heart stopped beating. I could not breathe. How was I going to provide for them? What if it’s multiples? What if Stephanie has a miscarriage? What if something is wrong with the child? What if the child is special needs? Will I survive? Will I be able to stay strong? Will I have faith? Will I run away? Can I be as good of a father as my own? What about my grandfather? Can I be even a fraction of the men I grew up with? Will I make enough money? Can we survive? Will Stephanie keep working? Should I keep her home? So many questions ran through my mind and I could not even breathe.


All I knew was that I was both the happiest man in the world and the most scared. I was about to help bring a child into the world with the perfect woman. I had (and still have) the most incredible woman by my side. She’s beautiful, loving, smart, full of life, and a teacher on top of it all. How could any child be any luckier than ours? They would come into the world with a mother that God broke the mold on right after making her. Then came the fear again. If my child would have Stephanie would they need me? Would they love me? Would I ever measure up to my wife? I was terrified that I would become irrelevant, and that thought scared me to death.

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on


The first part of the pregnancy was like a dream. Picking out names for a boy or girl. Coming up with nursery ideas. Looking for a new place to live. So many things were incredible, but there were things that were not. Where I was working was turning upside down. I moved to a new location and received a huge promotion. To most this would be a victory, but to me it was a nightmare. All of a sudden my responsibilities were endless, and I had more on my plate than I knew what to do with. My hours went from bad to worse. Starting during the second trimester with Stephanie I went from working 49 hours a week to almost 70. I left for work at 5:45am and did not come home until almost 8:00pm. Even my weekends consisted of 10-12 hour days when others I worked with only had to work 4-5 hours on those days.

Inside I was a wreck. I was worried about everything going on at work on top of the pregnancy. I began to suffer from intense depression and melancholy, and for almost a year I was a completely different person. I withdrew from friends and family. I lived at work and only slept at home. I took my wife for granted and lived selfishly with my time. I would rather go out and get plastered with my work buddies than go home to Stephanie and take care of her and help plan for our child. I numbed myself with alcohol until I would forget everything. What was driving me to this?

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on


We had gone to our gender scan at Stephanie’s OBGYN and found that our perfect girl was going to be different. When we found out, I pretended to be strong and faithful and be the rock to steady Stephanie, but I was more of a destroyed wreck inside than she was. All of a sudden I realized that I was going to be the sole provider at a job where I was unhappy at, and I feared that a prayer I had prayed months before had come to fruition to test my faith.

The day after I found out that Stephanie was pregnant I prayed that no matter what happened I would be strong enough to accept it and deal with it, and that no matter what, that I would love and accept anything that happened to our child. Whether they were perfectly normal, or had special needs, or even surgery, that I would be able to embrace it all and be strong. When I found out that Addison was going to need her first surgery and that she would have to be monitored incredibly closely during her pregnancy I went to a dark place that a man should never have to go. All of a sudden I wished that Stephanie wasn’t pregnant. I found myself wishing I was someone else. I wanted to leave with no explanation and go off the grid. I entered a place so dark that light could not penetrate it no matter how bright. I felt I had prayed faithfully and been dealt this hand.

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on


I was furious with God. How could my loving God condemn my family to this hardship? How could he do this when I was so fragile already? I felt damned by my own prayer, but I put on a brave face and stuck with Stephanie and went to all of her appointments and helped to make decisions that would affect our lives forever. Inside I was dead. I felt like a tree devoid of water or roots, withered and crumbling, full of rot. As the months went on Stephanie’s pregnancy went from bad to worse. Everything that could go wrong in a pregnancy began to happen to her, and I kept numbing myself with alcohol to escape it all.

What makes this so hard for me write is that my family, and not even Stephanie knew that I would get drunk so I wouldn’t feel anything at home. All I wanted to do was go to my miserable work and not have to deal with what was about to happen. If I got drunk then when I went home I could just pass out and not think about the complications. Then, two weeks before Addison came I got so drunk that I was stumbling over myself and knocking over furniture at the house. Stephanie was in so much discomfort from the pregnancy that she could not physically help me. That next morning, hurting and hungover like I had never been before I realized that I could not escape what was coming and I couldn’t put my family in that position again. What if Stephanie had gone into labor and I could not have driven her to the hospital? What if I was passed out and missed the birth of my first child? I could not let this happen, and so I stopped drinking.

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on


That entire day I spent apologizing to Stephanie for my actions and prayed that I would be strong enough to support my family when Addison came. The weeks went on and then a midnight trip to the hospital we knew that Addison was coming early. The doctors induced Stephanie’s labor and for endless hours we waited while she pushed and pushed, but to no avail. Addison was not going to come naturally. Waiting for the surgeon to arrive was the most panicked I had ever been in my entire life up to that point. What if something happened to either of them before the doc got there? Surrounded by family and loved ones I had never felt so alone and smothered at the same time.

When the surgeon arrived he walked straight up to me and said something that I will never forget as long as I live. The words he spoke instantly calmed me and prepared me for Addison and Stephanie’s surgery. He walked up to me, looked me straight in the eye while shaking my hand and said: “I’ve got this.” It was the most powerful sentence anyone had ever said to me in my entire life. I then got ready and went in to the operating room and help Stephanie’s hand as the team brought Addison into this world. When I saw her for the first time my heart erupted into joy. Even though she wasn’t breathing she was absolutely beautiful, and she was mine. My daughter. Not just my daughter. She was our daughter. I ran following the nurses and the woman who caught Addison into the NICU and heard Addison’s voice for the first of 3 times in my life, and it was the sound of angels singing. That raspy little cry was the sound of every choir and every angel that ever had sung. I began to cry looking at her beautiful eyes and I kissed her head for the first time.

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on


As I ran back into the operating room I told Stephanie that our daughter was perfect and beautiful and we both cried together. The time had come for us to be a family. We knew that she was going to have surgery in a few weeks to have a cystic tumor removed, so we weren’t worried at all. Life was getting ready to be beautiful, but then the tumor became the least of our worries. We found she had a hole in her heart, and then came the murmur, and then we discovered she couldn’t breathe without artificial support. I wrote it off and thought that a few procedures would cover it all and she would be ok within a month. This was not to be the case.


What followed over the next ten months was surgery after surgery, trips to Houston, helicopter rides, flights on planes to and from hospitals, road trips all over for her, all the while I was having to maintain my hours at work. Things at work only deteriorated from there. I was stressed to a point where I thought it was impossible to come back from, and then a miracle! Addison came home. Stephanie and I were overjoyed to the point of not even believing that what was happening was real. It was too good to be true, and unfortunately that was the truth. The weather during those six days was the worst all winter. Snow, sleet, ice, frozen rain, and freezing temperatures. What made it so hard was that after I worked 13 hours a day, I would find out from Stephanie that the nurse called in, and then we would have to stay awake all night to watch after her. I was at my limit, and we decided that we needed to take her to the PICU so she could get better.

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on


This is where things started to get better. We started getting answers that we had been searching months for. We found out why she couldn’t breathe and finally had a solution to get her ventilator settings right so she could come home. What followed was two months of working 13 hour days and trips up to the hospital almost every day. Now at this point I still was deep in my depression. I was distant from my family and friends because I kept thinking that Addison was never going to come home, and that she would spend her whole life in the hospital. I have never been so wrong.

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on


When we finally took her home our lives began to come together. Days were happier, nights more peaceful. The nurses began showing up to their shifts and taking beautiful care of Addison. Life was almost perfect until my work transferred me an hour south of our home so I lost another 2 hours a day of time with my family to my commuting on the most dangerous stretch of road in Texas. Finally I had enough.

I decided that I needed to make a huge change in my life to better take care of myself and my family. I submitted my resignation from my job of four years, began to seek counselling, and started to reconnect with my beautiful wife, my perfect daughter, my loving family, and the steadfast friends who never left my side during the entire ordeal. I can’t continue without naming those that gave me the greatest comfort during this time: The first is my incredible wife Stephanie. There is no stronger, nor more incredible woman in the world than her. The second is my immediate family: My steadfast father Clint, my warrior of a mother Julie, my fireball sister Kristin. My unflinching father in law Gerald, my patient mother in law Cindy, and my encouraging sister in law Heather. They never left my side. Lastly, the friends that never gave up on me no matter what was going on. They all know who they are. Ian, Adam, Blake, Ben, Richard, Jacob, Benton, David, Daniel, Phillip, and my cousin Kevin. You men kept me alive during my darkest hour. I couldn’t leave out Rozanna. She mentored me at work and is a fellow NICU parent. My family would never have made it without her.

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on


After coming home I started a new job with a strong, Christian man with deep roots in the community, and my family has begun to heal. I have an even 40 hours a week, I have good benefits, good pay, and I’m only two minutes from home now. God has taken me from my darkness and put me into the light and shown me how far He can deliver me.

Now my daughter is a year old and I cannot begin to express just how incredible and amazing she is. When I get home I kiss her and watch her smile as my beard tickles her cheeks. He eyes light up when she sees me, and I know she sees me. She grabs my face and starts clicking her tongue out of excitement and everything that I fear or worry about just disappears. I see her face and I see heaven. I see her beautiful mother. I see her strength and her determination. Even when she cries I am happy because she is crying at home and not in the hospital.

A video posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on


Each and every day I get to kiss my baby girl when I leave and when I get home. I can kiss my stunning wife every morning and every night. I spend quality time with them every day, and I begin to heal. I can hold my family in my arms and feel the love of God all around me. I know everything is going to be OK, and I pray thanks to God for bringing me back to my family out of my darkness.

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on


My prayer for you, my perfect, beautiful, strong, determined, spunky, hilarious, smiling little angle of a child Addison Olivia Wolfe is that you come to know one day how much your Mommy and Papa love you. I wish I could share with you the endless amount of lives you have touched with your strength. The millions who have prayed for you. I hope one day you can read this and know how truly loved you are. Words do not even come close to describing the intense passion and love I carry for you and your mother. I will never leave you again. I will never submit to the evils of this world and try to numb myself. I will always protect you. I will always defend you and your mother. I WILL ALWAYS BE YOUR PAPA. No matter what happens in life. Whether God takes any of us back home or war tears us apart, or the end of the world comes I WILL ALWAYS BE YOUR PAPA. You are loved more intensely than you could possibly ever imagine. The only one who loves you more than your mother and I is God, and He only loves you barely more than us.


Little girl, your father was once a broken man, but he is returned to you whole, and full of love and determination to be the best father the world has ever seen. I will take you to your first dance. I will intimidate the first boy that comes calling on you. I will cry as I give you away to your husband and dance my last dance with you. I will love your children and your husband’s family. Your mother and I will always love you. No matter what happens in life. When your mother and I got married we made a family crest and set our family motto. It is “Love Endures.” This is your life that you will lead. Love will endure every day and into eternity. On your first birthday my love, know that your Papa is the proudest man in the world, and that his love for you will endure past this life and into eternity.

I love you my perfect Daughter. Addison Olivia Wolfe. You are loved endlessly. Happy First Birthday.

Addie Turns One: A Letter From Mommy

The touching story of Addie, the little girl who spent 10 months in the hospital before going home, is chronicled through her mother's story in this heartfelt letter for her 1 year birthday. A good read for all who have experienced long-term hospital life.

My Dearest Addie,

How are you one today? With tears in my eyes I have to tell you that I am so very proud of you. This year has been such an incredibly tough year, and yet you have worked so hard to overcome every single obstacle that was brought your way. You’re a fighter just like your dad and I- you’re the pink ninja.

 

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

My pregnancy with you wasn’t easy. In fact, I was at the doctor often. I had food poisoning before the 2nd trimester and I remember being SO worried that something was going to happen to you. I tried to not take medications because I was so stressed that they would hurt you. I also had terrible nausea and vomiting throughout my pregnancy because of acid reflux. I remember daddy trying to get me to eat chicken noodle soup to make me feel better and getting me ginger ale, sprite, and other remedies. Later, I got cholestasis- a liver and bile issue that 4% of women get. It makes you itchy, and it makes your bile go into your bloodstream. It’s also why we planned to have you early.

A video posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

When I thought things couldn’t get tougher- we found out that you had genetic problems and you would be born with a sacrococcygeal teratoma. It was the scariest time of our lives. We went to have your anatomy scan at 18 weeks (because I just couldn’t wait to 20) and the ultrasound tech said that you were a girl. We cried and knew right then and there you would be Addison Olivia. But then, moments later, the tech said we’d have to talk to the doctor. Our doctor explained that you had a physical abnormality and I would have to go to a special doctor. What we thought was going to be the happiest day for us turned out to be so very scary. We cried and called your grandparents, worried that you wouldn’t be ok. It was then that I realized I was going to be relying on God a lot. I prayed. I prayed CONSTANTLY for you. While I was teaching, while I was eating, while I was driving…it didn’t matter where I was, I constantly prayed for you.

Then we went to your special doctor appointment. They asked if we would want to “terminate” you because of your genetic abnormality. I cried. I want you to know that not ONCE did I ever think about that. We would love you NO MATTER WHAT and I was appalled the doctor was doing his job by asking me if that’s what we wanted. After talking with him for a longer period of time, he wanted to do an amniocentesis. I cried. I didn’t want them to accidentally hurt you. We ended up doing it, and they were able to run some genetic tests on you. All the big markers came back negative and we were relieved for some time. Still, we saw your special doctor every other week for the rest of my pregnancy to watch your SCT to make sure it stayed the right size. I kept praying for you, for your special doctor, and for us. God was the only thing keeping me going.

 

After a while, we had to visit Texas Children’s to get 2 fetal MRI’s on us. That was pretty scary too. SO many strangers coming and doing tests on us. I remember crying just wanting you to be safe and ok. God was with us though, and got us through the testing and gave us lots of great information about your SCT and your heart. We left those appointments feeling good, knowledgeable, and better just knowing you would be fine.

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

 

The summer went on and my blood pressure got really high. I went to the hospital twice because of it. I saw stars when I got up from the couch to go to the bathroom. That’s all I was allowed to do. I crafted lots of beautiful things for your nursery- baby closet dividers, your name for above your crib, a birth announcement wreath (the one that’s on your door), and of course, I helped daddy put your furniture together. Ok, I didn’t reaaaally help him- but I did boss him around and tell him where to put everything. At one point, on a Saturday night (the day I was going to have my pregnancy pictures taken with you), my blood pressure got scarily high. Too high for my liking and I just KNEW. I knew it was time for us to go to the hospital once more.

 

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

Daddy freaked out when I told him it was time to go to the hospital. I was only 35 weeks and we hadn’t intended to pack our bags until 36 weeks. I calmly grabbed my things, daddy packed his, and we went to the hospital. We called everyone and told them it was time to meet you. This. Was. It. I was scared, excited, nervous, and happy all at the same time. They wanted me to try labor- something mommy never anticipated. I was always told we would do a c-section, but the doctors said it’d be ok to try the natural way. I labored all Sunday and by Monday early morning, they decided you and I couldn’t handle it. We were going to have to go into surgery. The first of many.

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on


I got ready, daddy got ready, the family got ready. We took pictures and were off to the operating room. It was time to meet you. I was strapped down to the table with my arms out. There was a drape so I wouldn’t see my insides. They gave me some funny drink before surgery and as they were pulling you out, I threw it all up. I had one guy sucking away the vomit, while daddy quickly told me you were here.

But…I never heard you cry.

In fact, they took you away so quickly because of your SCT that I never saw you. I didn’t realize either that you were struggling to breathe also.

Daddy told me how beautiful you were and that he would be back. He had to go meet you in the NICU. We knew you’d end up there because of your SCT. In fact, we thought you’d be there for a month to have surgery and recover. We had no idea that day. Still, daddy went with you to the NICU, took lots of pictures of you, and met your nurse. Then, he came to get me. I felt like it took FOREVER for them to take me to meet you. But then, my nurse said we were free to go. They took me through the hospital and into the NICU. Bed 23. I held your hand and told you how much I loved you. I felt like I only saw you for 2 seconds, though I’m sure it was a lot longer. Then it was time to go to my room to recover.

 

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

I slept and pumped and slept and pumped and slept and pumped. Pumping was one thing I felt I had control over. Each day I strived to pump as much as possible so you could grow big and strong. I remember the first time I wanted to see you in the NICU. I made daddy take the wheelchair and I pushed it (empty) all the way from my room to the NICU. Let me tell you- it wasn’t easy, and it was pretty far! I was determined to see you though. Daddy went to the NICU at all hours of the day to bring you milk for you to eat. He saw you more than I did and I got jealous. It’s hard trying to recover so a mom can be her best for her baby all while worrying about her baby! You were a good girl though, and your nurses took very good care of you.


A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

 


One night we went to the NICU and I cried after I saw you. You had been crying (which I thought was so cute and recorded- the one and only time I heard your sweet voice before you were intubated), and I felt awful leaving you. I cried in the hallway and when the nurses saw me, I asked them to make your space more home-like. So, Nurse Kelsie drew your name out in paint and made gorgeous animals to hang up as well. It made me feel better even though it was something so silly.

I also got to help do little things with you and each little thing was so amazing. I didn’t care that my stomach felt like it was going to rip out of my body, all I cared about was standing over that Giraffe bed, changing your diaper and giving you a sponge bath with Nurse Monica. It was the HIGHLIGHT of my day. It kept me going.

 

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

After a few days, I was discharged. Sweet pea, I want you to know how AWFUL it was to leave the hospital without you. It was SO painful. My heart was ripped out of me and it NEVER was easy to leave you at the hospital. I had heard it was incredibly important for me to recover and take care of my mental health, so I always went home at night, but trust me, I never liked it. I even remember the one time that you were unhappy when we left. I sobbed in the elevator and told your daddy I felt ridiculous for wanting to go back to make sure you were ok even though I knew your nurse was taking good care of you. I wouldn’t let him leave the parking lot when we got to the car, and he walked all the way back up to the NICU, took video of you happy as could be again, and then I felt like I was going to be somewhat ok leaving you for the evening. We would stay SO late to be with you to do your nightly “hands on” time. We would want to do any little thing possible- diaper changes, temperature checks, blanket changes, sponge baths, probe changes…whatever we could do so you would know we loved and cared for you. We spent many nights driving back incredibly late because we could never tear ourselves away from your adorable self.


A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

 


Do you remember the first time I held you? Oh, I do. I felt like the days beforehand were SO LONG. It wasn’t fair that I didn’t get to hold you right away, but trust me when I say that you were worth the wait. I will FOREVER treasure our moment together. The second that Nurse Monica gave you to me- I was in heaven. Yeah, I cried, but it’s because I had never seen someone more precious in my life. My dream of holding you finally came true! It was magical to me. We spent many days after that just snuggling for hours. I’d have to pee and would hold it for 4 or 5 hours JUST so I could hold you. I knew that if I put you down, it’d have to be for the rest of the day because you had so many cords, so I always held you as long as we both could possibly stand. Remember Nurse Amanda changing your diaper on you while you were laying on me? That’s pretty impressive, huh?

 

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. We spent 6 months in NICU. You had 6 surgeries. We spent Halloween (as the fawn, doe, and hunter- remember?), Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and Valentine’s Day in the NICU. Holidays were the worst. THE WORST. Especially Christmas. We hadn’t anticipated you being at the hospital so long. We hadn’t anticipated PDA surgery on your heart. Or the trach. Or the g button. Or the craniotomy. All we had anticipated for was the SCT. I tried my hardest to make the holidays the best. We would decorate and bring the holiday to you. We would take pictures, dress up…the whole nine yards. One of your neonatologists told me it didn’t matter that you weren’t home yet, because we had made a home for you in the hospital. After all, home is where you are, right? You were the one of the few babies in the NICU with a halloween costume, and the only one with a Christmas tree. You also had the most adorable Valentine’s onesie and brought your nurses lots of chocolate since they had to work. We even went to Texas Children’s again because we thought you would need a heart procedure. You got sick there and spent 9 days with us in Houston. We had a lot that we overcame in those 6 months. A LOT. Those 6 surgeries that came with complications, withdrawals, recovery, stress, and more. Still, you overcame, and with mountains of prayers, you pulled through EVERY surgery and complication.


A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

 

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on



Then, came discharge. We had an “overnight” weekend in a room at the hospital to show everyone we could take care of you on our own. It was AMAZING. We had a few things go wrong (like having to call everyone because you were clamping down and we had no idea why), but mostly it was so great. I was overjoyed. We laid in bed and snuggled with you. We camped out in our little room eating pizza, watching tv, and just snuggling the mess out of you. It was like a piece of heaven. Something SO simple as snuggling with you in bed was finally attainable. Something that most moms get to do the day their baby is born, but we had to wait until you were almost 6 months old. It was magical though and I thanked the Lord for bringing us so far. I’d never felt so amazing and ready to take you home!

 

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

Once we got you home though, things got scary. You cried a lot because of the new environment and because your nursing was unreliable. You cried because you had many appointments and it was cold outside, but you hated to be bundled. You get hot easily. Still, I made the best of it and we would play and play and play all day. We worked on therapy exercises and would read books. We would snuggle and you would pet Pearl. We had a blast despite your breathing problems. I was on cloud 9. I was elated. Yet through it all, I knew something wasn’t right. After 6 days of having you home, we took you back to the hospital. That story- I’ll share with you another day…


A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

 


Going to the hospital was tough. Daddy was working so I had to take you by myself in the ambulance. You couldn’t go back into the NICU so we took you to the PICU. It was familiar, yet different. We were told you’d be there overnight or so, but after sleeping in your hospital room for a week, we realized you’d be there a lot longer. 4 months to be exact. We spent Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Memorial Day in the hospital. This time it seemed a little easier because we knew the drill. Child Life was amazing and always made sure we had things to craft with or the Easter Bunny to take pictures with. They were amazing. While in the PICU we finally got the diagnosis as to why you needed your trach other than “respiratory failure”- you had bronchomalacia.


Bronchomalacia! It made perfect sense! When you cried your airways would slam down and you wouldn’t be able to breathe. It was why you had so much trouble at home! Praise the Lord we finally had a diagnosis! We worked very hard to get you to a place of comfort, of not being sick, of not needing a ton of meds, and after those 4 months…WE WERE TAKING YOU HOME AGAIN! At the end of June, on June 22nd to be exact, we took you home FOR GOOD.


A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

 


It took forever to get you out of that hospital. Daddy and I were incredibly antsy and irritable because we JUST wanted to grab you and take you home, but we had to deal with paperwork, medicines, and more. Finally, around 3 pm, we went downstairs with Nurse Liz, and put you in the car seat with all your gear. We drove home as a family and I cried happy tears. Do you know how long we waited for you to come home? TEN MONTHS, LITTLE GIRL! You have been home now for over 2 months. You’ve gotten sick twice since you’ve been home, but you’ve managed to stay out of the hospital. You’ve had countless doctor appointments, many therapy sessions, and more, but you have been AMAZING and have done so well.

 

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on



A video posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

 

 


Addie, you are one heck of a fighter. You are SO dang strong. You put the strongest men in the world to shame because you are stronger than them! You know why? Because the Lord your God watches over you. He protects you. He loves you and fights for you. He has sent an amazingly strong team of angels to watch over you. You know those angels- They’re the Neonatologists, the Intentivists, the Nurse Practitioners, the Residents, they’re the Social Workers and Case Managers. They’re Nurses Monica, Patricia, Kelsie, Amanda, Devon, Megan, Mandi, Megan, Emily, Stephanie, Julie, Gracita, Trevor, Liz, Carin, Courtney. They’re RTs Julie, Erin, Donna, Alissa, Karen, Rosali, Wendi, Brian, and Wendy. (Gosh I’m SURE I forgot people- I’m sorry!) You have one AMAZING team of angels that had the opportunity to watch you, take care of you, and love on you. Guess what? They still do!


A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

 


I know God brought you into this world for a reason- to spread His word. Did you know that you are touching hundreds of thousands of lives? You have over 52 THOUSAND readers on Facebook that await for your pictures JUST so they can pray for you. You have almost 20 THOUSAND on Instagram who LOVE seeing your face and who pray for you daily as well. You have SO MANY people that love you. They are your angels as well. They are your prayer warriors. You know how I know that they love you too? Because you got SO many birthday cards from them and each person wrote the most incredibly touching words. Words of love. Words of hope. Words of encouragement. Words of praise. They’ve been watching you. They’re praying for you. They were sent from the Lord to watch over our family.

 

A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

This year has been tough. I know it’s been just as tough (if not more) on you, than it has on us. Yet, you show God’s love and mercy each and every day through every single thing you do. You give us reasons to stay positive, to have hope, and to rely on Jesus. You have made me stronger in my faith. You have shown me what unconditional love is. You have done SO much in your first year of life. If this is just your first year- the world is going to have to watch out because we know God has HUGE things in store for you and your life.


A photo posted by Stephanie W. (@mathewsbambina) on

 


You are my everything. I am so proud of you. Thank you for being my daughter and allowing me to be your voice. I hope I never let you down. Now, do me a favor- let’s make your second year WAY less dramatic, ok?

I LOVE YOU FOREVER AND ALWAYS,
Mommy