Family Medical Motherhood Style

Happy Birthday Everett

August 14, 2017

You turn 1 tomorrow. Exactly 1 year ago today I remember slowly walking around our house, putting a bag together for the night I was to spend with your sister in the hospital. My body wouldn’t allow me to do too much at once; I found myself out of breath, needing to close my eyes. Rest.

I thought it was my reaction to the chaos of having Nora admitted to the hospital two days earlier. She was sick, her lungs were working so hard, to heal from surgery, pneumonia, a cold. The truth was, she had never really gotten better. It had been months of in and out of the hospital for our little family. I was frustrated with myself for being so tired I was overwhelmed that your Dad still had to work during the days and sleep at the hospital at night, so I could go home (with you still growing inside me) to rest. We were passing like strangers in the night and very early mornings, talking over your sister’s hospital bed before, again,  parting ways for work or sleep.

It had been the theme of our summer. The most chaotic summer of our lives, in and out of the hospital, sending your sister in for surgery, trying new medications, sleeping on the hospital floor. Chaos was beginning to feel normal.

That afternoon, as I walked around the house, tired and distracted,  I packed my bag to stay the night with Nora, but I also packed  for you. Just in case – the thought of you – joy!

I drove down to the hospital. I left the bag in the car, said goodbye to your Dad, and went in to stay with your sister.

At 12am your dad came in from work, I stood up to say hello, to check on Nora, and my water broke.

You were on your way.

An outsider might have thought that it was the worst case scenario –  all of it – being pregnant while having such a sick little one to take care of,  my water breaking while at her bedside, my husband continuing to work through hospitalizations and illnesses. But today and after that summer, I know better. And, I know more fully the graciousness of God.

My pregnancy – your very existence – was the fastest answer to prayer I’ve ever known. Earlier, in the fall,  I prayed for you: with a smile on my face I told God I wanted more children. I asked him for another baby. Within the month you were growing in me, and doing handstands for the ultrasound technician. You made me laugh! It filled me with joy to see you, to watch your tiny 8 week old body wiggle on the screen. As you grew, there were long nights with Nora in the ER lots of sleeping on the hospital floor, and there was a long wait while your sister was in surgery. During these times I would often hold you tight, you would push against my hands so I felt the movement and motion of you. I would put your Daddy’s hand on what I thought was your heart or your shoulder or your thigh and he would smile. Your very existence, Everett, blessed our hearts, and brought us joy in a very challenging season, your very existence in that season and today is a testament to grace.

When my water broke at your sister’s bedside, I was in absolute shock. The drama of “water breaking” was a new experience for me  – my water didn’t break until much later with your sister.  But my broken water changed something in me, the rush of hormones, sudden contractions? Almost immediately bliss swept over me.  Adrenaline, such joy, the prospect of soon having you in my arms –  all of it carried me straight out of one hospital and into the next. I was going to meet you and in that moment you were my world.

I was blessed to leave your sister in the most capable hands of family and brilliant medical professionals. By God’s grace I had the focus and the strength to bring you into the world, to be fully present and experience the wonder of it all.

And what a beautiful, perfect, entrance it was. My most vivid memories were holding you on my chest, surrounded by our loving family and friends, handing you off to your dad, celebrating your perfect arrival. I felt so much peace and gratitude for your safe entrance into the world. There was grace in how smooth and painless it was for me, how I smiled and laughed with the nurses and listened to 1960’s oldies while I walked the halls waiting for labor to progress, how my epidural was absolutely perfect and how I pushed for less than 5 minutes before bringing you into the world.

We left the hospital as soon as we were able to and in less than 24 hours we were home. Your Daddy stayed with your sister, along with a rotation of many friends and family. He went back and forth between you two, you and I did too so he could see you and I could see your sister. At night Nana slept in the bed beside you and me, Tahoe slept near your crib. When Nora came home, our family had the sweetest homecoming; Daddy was so happy to see you and Nora finally together. You and Nora loved  laying together on the floor – she smiled at you so much. We hadn’t seen her smile in a long time, but she gave big smiles to YOU. There was grace in that, again, in her joy and grace in our joy watching her be a kid, a big sister.

Daddy took 4 weeks off work.  We had so many sweet mornings together, watching the Olympics as a family, going on short outings involving Target and Starbucks. It was a special time together, one we all needed.

Your father and I cannot believe how quickly you have grown. You are taking your first steps, saying “pa” (for Grandpa) “ba” (for ball) and “pu” (for puffs). You use the signs for “all done” and “milk,” you give high fives, and kisses and hugs. You love itsy- bitsy- spider, music (guitar), chasing bouncy balls and wrestling with Dad. You love the water and sand, watching for planes and birds in the sky, sitting outside, being on the move or out and about. You are an absolute delight to take places, it has been such a joy to watch you grow and learn.

As we celebrate this day and reflect on your first year of life the word grace continues to come to mind, still, and again. You were born in the year I called “the year of turmoil”  in my last post – I wish turmoil and pain didn’t exist,  but in this world it does. It is my fervent and constant prayer that when you encounter turmoil and pain, when you see it for yourself, when it impacts those you know and love, or those across the globe, that you will reflect grace, show grace and be the grace that you are. This grace is what will set you apart, reflect God’s love and fill those around you with hope. As you grow I pray God will continue to use you to reflect his grace and presence. Your father and I are so proud of you and thankful to be your parents, we love you. So does Nora.  Happy Birthday.

Our verse for you:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9


Photo credit: Jessica Rice Photography

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  • Reply Jo Ann Costanza August 15, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Happy Birthday, dear little Everett. Your Great Grandma and I have been friends for 72 years…and as such, I know the joy and love in her heart for you and Nora. Many joyful blessings on you and your family….Love, cousins John and Jo Ann Costanza

  • Reply Donna Beckman August 15, 2017 at 8:29 am


  • Reply Ava Goldhaber August 15, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Through the pain and chaos God still always finds a way to bless us. Blessed are the children. Your little Everett is another of Gods blessings, and every day Nora is here. I pray that God continues to Grace your lives with many more blessings to come

  • Reply Sandy Hoekstra August 15, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Thank you, Jessie. Your post is a treasure, the pictures are treasures, all of you are each such treasures. You all grow dearer to me every time we have a chance to see each other. So glad I’ve had a small part in participating in Everett’s first year of life. Reading this was a blessing. Love, hugs, prayers for all of you! Happy birthday, precious Everett!! My love and greetings to Tyler and Nora.

  • Reply Joanie August 15, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Happy Birthday, sweet Everett. You came to be a light of love and grace to all that have met you. Praise God for all His Blessings. You and Nora are truly treasures. May God continue to bless you and Nora, and your devoted Mommy and Daddy. Love, Joanie and Joe (former neighbors of your Daddy’s Mom and Dad) ❤❤

  • Reply Joanie August 15, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Happy 1st Birthday, sweet Everett. You came to be a light of love and grace to all that have met you, and will meet you in the future. Praise God for all His Blessings. You and Nora are truly treasures. May God continue to bless you and Nora, and your devoted Mommy and Daddy. Love, Joanie and Joe (former neighbors of your Daddy’s Mom and Dad) ❤❤

  • Reply Evelyn Guinn August 15, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Love your writing and appreciate
    Your faith and hopefulness. Thank you
    For sharing and God bless your
    Beautiful family 🙂
    Evelyn (friend of Natalie)

  • Reply Susan Huhndorf August 15, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    this made my day! such sweetness, such gratitude for the simple joys that children can bring. God is so good. Blessings to you, Jesse, and your growing family! continues prayers for Nora. Love, Susan

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