We look back at how the mother of four has coped over the last several months
After nearly a year in prison, Teresa Giudice is coming home.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey star managed to keep her family – as well as loyal fans – in the loop of her life. In fact, the New Jersey native even landed a three-part TV Bravo special, The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Teresa Checks In, in October, chronicling life in the Giudice household following the family matriarch’s incarceration.
Additionally, Giudice wrote a memoir while locked up: Turning the Tables is due out Feb. 9.
As Giudice celebrates her release, we’re taking a look back at her time behind bars:
Jan. 5, 2015: Teresa Reports to Prison
Married mother of four Teresa reported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut at 3 a.m. “Mentally and emotionally she was prepared,” Giudice’s lawyer, James Leonard, told Good Morning America a few hours later, adding that her husband Joe “was somber,” when his wife left. “The enormity of this entire situation hit him.”
According to Leonard, the always family-focused Teresa’s last words before leaving the house that morning were, “Tell Joe and the girls I’m good,” in the hopes that it would help them endure her sentence.
Jan 7, 2015: Teresa’s Prison Release Date Earlier Than Expected
While Teresa was sentenced to 15 months in prison, “under federal law, every federal prisoner serves 85 percent of their sentence, unless they do something really egregious,” Leonard told PEOPLE at the time. “So her 13-month release date – Feb. 5 – is actually 85 percent of her sentence.
“Prisoners can also take six months or 10 percent off that 85 percent,” he says. That “puts that date in late December just before Christmas.”
During that last stretch, from late December until Feb. 5, she would still be considered a prisoner, however, but would serve that time under home confinement.
That news certainly must have helped Teresa adjust to life in prison, and early reports from Leonard revealed that the reality star was making the most of her new surroundings. “She’s doing great,” he told PEOPLE. “I got a series of emails from her and she is doing phenomenally. It seems like she is getting acclimated very well. She tells me that everybody is nice and everybody is treating her respectfully. She said both the staff and the inmates are being nice to her and that she is getting along fine.”
March/April 2015: Joe Adjusts to Single Parenthood as Teresa Settles In
Teresa may have acclimated to her new life easily, but the rest of her family had a harder time with her absence. “Her being away definitely makes me appreciate her way more, a lot more, and you know everything she did,” Joe told Extra after three months without his wife.
One month later, a source revealed to PEOPLE that things were getting a little easier, though the entire family still missed having Teresa around: “The kids seem to be doing as fine with it as can be expected. Joe is doing his best to take care of the girls while she is away.”
Meanwhile, Teresa continued to make the best of her time in prison, and the culinary-minded star managed to get a job in the kitchen, which helped her deal with her homesickness.
May/June 2015: Teresa Sends Her First Tweet From Prison
Nearly five months after checking in, Teresa spoke out directly for the first time on May 31, tweeting her fans to thank them for the support: “Thank you everyone for all of the cards, letters, and kind words of support I love, love, love you all xo T!”
Twitter then became Teresa’s primary form of communication with her friends and fans on the outside, and in June, she made sure they knew just how grateful she was for all of their continued support. “Thank you for your outpouring of support and standing by me through this most difficult time,” she tweeted. “Love love love you all!”
July 2015: Teresa Sues Former Bankruptcy Attorney
Despite being behind bars, Teresa filed suit against her former bankruptcy attorney, James Kridel, alleging that his “negligence” and “missteps” are the reason she was sent to prison. However, Kriedel countered that she took “full responsibility” for the crimes in court, and that she had since changed her mind.
Sept. 15, 2015: Teresa Misses Her Daughter’s Birthday
Teresa might not have been able to be present at daughter Audriana’s sixth birthday party, but her friends and family made sure that the youngest Giudice was feeling the love.
Sept. 24, 2015: Teresa Tweets About Pope Francis
Teresa relied heavily on her faith to get her through her time in jail, and she made that clear to her fans and followers when she tweeted about Pope Francis’ historic visit to the US in September. “Watching the Pope Francis coverage on TV and I am crying;” she wrote, “what a wonderful man, such a kind and gentle soul #Proud Catholic.”
Oct. 11, 2015: Teresa Checks In Airs on Bravo
The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Teresa Checks In chronicled what the Giudice family was going through while Teresa was behind bars – and from the looks of things, life changed most dramatically for Joe.
“I’m like the mom – I’m like the cheer mom,” he told E! News. “It’s exciting watching the cheer because they’re doing a lot of flips and all this other stuff.”
As for his big celebration plans when Teresa returns? “We’ll be spending a lot of time in the bedroom for awhile, that’s for sure,” Joe said.
November 2015: Teresa’s House Is Out of Foreclosure
The Giudices’ Montville Township, New Jersey, mansion went into foreclosure in April, according to NJ.com They put the 10,000-sq.-ft. estate on the market for almost $3 million that month. “Losing the family home was never an option. Teresa made that very clear to me,” her lawyer confirmed to PEOPLE. “There was no way we were going to let that happen. I am very happy it all worked out.”
November 2015: The Cover of Teresa’s Memoir Is Released
Set to hit bookstores on Feb. 9, Giudice’s memoir Turning the Tables (co-penned by PEOPLE’s K.C. Baker) will give fans a closer look at the star they’ve come to know on the Real Housewives of New Jersey. “The world will see a new Teresa. A different Teresa. Well, actually, the Teresa I always was,” she wrote in a statement.
November 2015: The Giudices Celebrate Thanksgiving Without Teresa
The Giudice household observed their first Thanksgiving without Teresa – and the last with Joe, who will serve his own 41-month prison sentence following his wife’s homecoming. “Teresa wants Thanksgiving to be as normal as possible for the girls,” a source told PEOPLE. “She just wants the girls to have a good day.”