It is our honor to introduce you to a true miracle. His name is Theodore Richard, and he was given a grim diagnosis even before birth.
His parents have held onto faith, love...and HOPE...to carry them through the tribulations. Here is his inspiring story and here is how you can pray for this 'Teddy Bear'.
Thanks to his mother, Alex, for sharing her son's courageous story of tiny and mighty determination.
I had no idea how appropriate your name was when it was first pressed upon my heart. We popped a big balloon in front of family and friends in order to reveal your gender. As we were showered in ‘blue’, everyone began to scream and shout in excitement, and I too was rejoicing with your daddy and sister; my heart still pounding from the anticipation.
The room was loud, with congratulations being exclaimed from every direction, but it seemingly turned into muffled background noise for my own overpowering thoughts. I stood stationary, yet my mind entered into a dizzy tailspin. Watching the light blue confetti scatter and decorate our floor was like watching snow blanket the ground in the heat of summer. I was in complete disbelief while asking myself: How could I be a proper mother to a son, when all I ever knew was my daughter?
Little did I know that the most important mark I would leave on this world would be my son; that YOU yourself would teach me everything I still needed to learn; that YOU would impact so many lives and touch countless hearts before even uttering your first word.
However, I woke up the next morning knowing one thing for sure: you would be called Theodore. Your name came straight from the depths of my heart with no rhyme or reason. I initially chose your name without fully understanding why, but little did I know, the ‘reason why’ would soon be revealed.
As the days and weeks went by, I wondered if I could love you as much as your sister, MacKenna. It was such a silly thought, as the final answer came so very quickly, abruptly, and with a resounding: YES
On June 3rd, I transformed from a nervous and unequipped mother preparing to enter ‘new territory’, to a fierce Momma Bear with all claws out, and ready to claim new territory as her own… and my territory was YOU - my very own Teddy Bear. In that doctor’s office, when your severe, rare, and lethal diagnosis was explained to us, I felt that similar sense of disbelief all over again. This time, instead of the ‘celebratory cheers’ as we revealed your gender, it was the doctor’s condolences that seemed to turn into muffled background noise, for my overpowering thoughts.
I sat stationary across from the cardiologist, yet my mind entered into a dizzy tailspin. Listening to someone tell me about the need to cut open your precious newborn chest was like listening to someone report that the world as we know it is coming to an end. Nothing could prepare me for the helplessness I felt in that moment. I was an angry Momma Bear, who felt cheated and outnumbered by a group of poachers, yet I still wanted to fight the losing battle with the hopes of still winning the overall war. I was determined that your diagnosis, as scary as it was, would take no grip on my heart. I already knew you as ‘Theodore’, my perfect gift, that no one was going to take away from me; I was ready to fight for your life.
I continued to carry you the remaining three months of my pregnancy; treasuring every kick, squirm, and bout of hiccups that much more, not fully knowing what your future held outside of my womb. I developed a weird love-hate relationship with your anticipated ‘August 30th birthday’. However, you had proven your resilience right from the beginning, as you beat all the odds stacked against you. The nurses called you ‘feisty’, and I suppose that’s precisely what you needed to be in order to make it through three separate trips to the operating room within your first week on earth. My heart shatters every time the surgical team rolls you away for hours at a time. I pray, and even beg God to comfort you during the times that I can’t. I sit in the corner of your room praying that you will forget about every injection; every procedure; every tube, lead, and wire. I pray you will not have any memory of the countless hours spent alone in a warm plastic box.
For a month now, I have watched you grow from a distance, still not able to hold you in my arms. My favorite part of this journey thus far is studying your beautiful little profile during the sunset hours. Towards the end of the day, the sunlight enters your ICU room at the most optimal angle, where it bounces off your little button nose, and radiates through your blonde fuzzy hair. It’s a time of day that always entices me to walk over to your incubator and trace your flawless facial features with my fingertips. It’s bittersweet, because I then yearn so badly to scoop you up against my chest, and I despise the fact that I can’t, and that I have to walk away from you always wanting more; it’s like telling a bird not to fly.
I’ve also realized that there are a few things about this nightmare that I do NOT want you to forget. I never want you to forget that you are so very strong, Theodore. I watch you fight for breath; I watch your handsome blue eyes in determined concentration as you coordinate your tiny muscles to push your diaphragm down to draw in air. I then witness the relief in your face as the air floods in, and I see the exhaustion as you let it out. If there ever comes a time in your life when you feel weak or inadequate, I pray you remember what you were able to accomplish entirely through your own will and fortitude.
I never want you to forget that you are so very courageous, Theodore. I watch as the doctors change the dressings on your surgical wounds, and you do not even flinch. I watch from afar, unable to even hold your tiny hand due to infection control, and I’m amazed when I simply see you curiously study all the machines and unfamiliar faces. Never forget the Grace of God that is provided to you through every trial you overcome. Never forget that the most dangerous place to be is between a ‘mother bear’ and her ‘cub’.
YOU are my ‘Teddy Bear’ cub, and my sole purpose will always be to fiercely love and protect you with everything in me.
…and Theodore, you are my miracle; more handsome, strong, and courageous than I ever could have imagined. I love you with every ounce of my broken heart because my ‘mother’s heart’ will never be fully mended until yours is too.
To follow Theodore's journey, head here.