BANGOR, Wis. - Kids were always in the cards when Michelle and Tim Miller got married more than two decades ago. "I don 't think we talked about this many kids or that many kids," says Tim. "We wanted kids. We didn't put a number on it."
And even if they had put a number on it, it likely wouldn't have been this one. "Brittany is 24, Braxton's 22, Bailey 21, Bethany just turned 18, Braden is going to be 14, Brianna is 9...Bianca is 7..."
With seven kids and a full house it seemed the Miller clan was complete...until, "I was out hunting one day and it was almost a lightning bolt that hit me, you're not done having kids." Michele's initial reaction? "I'm like...'Are you kidding me?!' The kids were like, 'yes!'."
In 2009 nine after having four miscarriages and nearly losing this baby, Bella Victoria, 'Beautiful Victory' joined the Miller gang.
"I thought, 'we're done.'"
But in the fall of 2011, at 44 years old, Michelle found out she was pregnant again. "After this many you shouldn't be in shock but I was like, 'wow.'"18561742
But this pregnancy was different. And halfway through, something just didn't seem right. "I went into the clinic and that was the day that changed my life forever. The midwife looked at me and said, 'You are no longer my patient. You're the patient of a doctor now. You're four centimeters dialated. The babies going to be coming early."
At 22 weeks along a baby isn't even considered viable. Doctors told them to have a chance - they would need to get to 24 weeks. "It was very scary. We just had to pray again and get as much time under our belt."
At 24 weeks, 5 days, Michele's water broke. They could no longer stop this baby from coming and knew the odds weren't great. "The doctor said, if the baby comes out not moving and gray, we'll know it's not a good thing. If it comes out pink and moving...there's some hope."
"She's moving! She's moving."
Brinley Grace arrived weighing just one pound seven ounces, a mere 12 inches long. "She literally fit into the doctors hands."
The staff worked quickly to help her breathe and get her stabilized. "The most terrifying moments of my life."
"She did really, really well the first few days. They had to put a line in her chest to feed her. That broke open into her lungs and that's what caused some major problems."
Brinley was airlifted to Mayo Clinic in Rochester where she spent the next several weeks on a roller coaster ride of health problems. She even had to be resuscitated a total of 6 times. "You can't imagine delivering a baby and watching it die infront of you. I remember asking the doctor...am I going to be able to bring her home? And she said, 'I can't tell you that for sure.' And I thought, 'Yes! You need to tell me! I need to hear it!' And they can't."
And while Michele sat vigil by Brinley's side, Tim was back at home trying to keep the rest of the family running. "We're very blessed to have older kids that are very responsible and good with our little kids. Still the little ones miss their mom. There were several times I had to come home from work."
For months Brinley fought for her little life and through it all the Miller's never lost faith. "I didn't really think that we weren't going to bring our baby home. It was like a really, really long road trip. I was very confident in the destination that we'd be bringing her home one day. It's just all of the things we go through."
Five months after her birth, Brinley Grace finally got the OK to go home. "Everybody was home waiting for her and excited and running out to see us. It was really awesome."
"Happy birthday to you..."
Today is a milestone. A one year birthday surrounded by her parents and grandparents, her siblings and even her niece. Yes niece. Brinley's oldest sister gave birth to a daughter Kaylee just a few days after Brinley was born.
This big family is celebrating one very tiny miracle.
"This was a journey of hope. A journey of faith. And a journey of love."
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