TA Moms HomeWord A 2021

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

November 2nd, 2021

Editor’s Note: At the time of publication, Alex and family had to say goodbye to sweet Ava. With the family’s permission, we share this story, honoring Ava’s memory.

When you look at the smiling faces of Rachel, Jessica and Alex (pictured above, left to right), you see three strong women with an unbreakable bond. They affectionately refer to themselves as the “TA Moms” – a name as unique as the commonality surrounding their unlikely friendship. The TA stands for tracheal agenesis, an extremely rare birth defect in which the windpipe is completely absent or significantly underdeveloped. Each TA Mom has a child – Thomas (5 years), Tennison (19 months) and Ava (6 months) – who was born without an airway.

While all three pregnancies were high risk, doctors had not detected the condition before birth in any of the children. Each mom recalled feeling very alone after their child was born. Although Jessica, Rachel and Alex have close families and strong support systems, each felt something was missing.

Jessica tried to reach out to other families with tracheal issues, but had trouble connecting because Thomas’ case was so unique. When Tennison was born, Rachel’s medical team at Children’s Wisconsin suggested that she connect with Jessica for support. Rachel was hesitant at first – she was scared and then heartbroken to hear that there was another family experiencing the same diagnosis all alone.

Rachel remembers that their first phone call, “wasn’t about the depravity of it all, it was about hope.” Jessica and Rachel met face-to-face for the first time while they were both staying at our Ronald McDonald House® and it felt like they already knew each other.

When Ava was born, Alex was also connected with Rachel and Jessica through the medical team at Children’s Wisconsin and, once more, the bond was instant. Rachel felt blessed to be in the position to support someone else, but was scared that there was another family dealing with this diagnosis. Alex and Rachel met in-person at the House, while Alex and Jessica shared experiences via phone, text and Facetime. The first time all three moms were together in person was in early March to shoot the photography that accompanies this story.

Jessica, Rachel and Alex agree that the connections made at RMHC® – the sense of community and support – are what keep them going. Perhaps Rachel said it best: “I feel a connection with each of them and it was immediate. We have something to offer each other that is greater than I could have ever expected. I’ve been offered so much hope, love and strength I can’t imagine what it would look like if I didn’t have these ladies in my life.”

We hear from countless families about the lifelong friendships made with other families during their time at the House. The compassionate community that wraps its arms around our families provides support, comfort and hope to help make the hardest days a little easier.

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