Tuesday, November 15, 2016

{{Keeping Advent, Advent}} ~ Lessons Learned In The NICU

Okay, okay, I already know what you are thinking.... Advent is right around the corner, and I'm wanting to read up on some ideas and activities to make our 2016 Advent more meaningful.  So, why oh why, would a post about someone's nicu experience help me prepare my heart and soul for receiving the Newborn Babe?  I don't have a baby in the nicu, never have and I hope I never will.  Bear with me please....

I felt and thought the same thing until, BOOM!   It happened, my sweet little Lady came at 34 weeks 5 days and was still very much a preemie even weeks later.  She conquered the breathing hurdle in just a few days.  One set of tubes gone.  She ended up with jaundice and conquered that hurdle in two days - goodbye heel sticks and sun shades.  Beautiful heart rate.  Keeping temps wonderfully.   So what was her hold up?  Feedings.  Taking bottles and trying to learn the suck-swallow-breathe reflex.  This has been such a trying time.  I have learned SO much (and am still learning daily) why God has allowed this time in the nicu.

**No more comparisons**

Nicu experience:
Everyone and their cousin and best friend and neighbor had a baby younger than mine or around the same gestational age that went home right away.  Don't tell me.  I don't wanna know.  It makes me feel worse.  I wonder more and more, "what's wrong with my daughter then?"

Advent relation:
Start where you are comfortable.  If you are just beginning, you can definitely start with one thing - an Advent wreath, an Advent devotional, or maybe Jesse tree.  Here are some links to what we have done these last 16 years.  You will see MANY things.  Pick one.  It has taken us many years to build up to this and we don't do everything each year.  I still pick and choose myself.  Pick one thing and really focus on it.  Then next year, feel free to add one more.  If you have already been celebrating Advent, I still suggest the "pick one" rule.  No need to go nutso and add three new things that you'll only complete/finish half of all three anyways.  Pick one and do your best.  And most important of all - DO NOT compare.  Do not look at what Suzie or Janie or Christy are doing and feel guilty that you aren't doing the same things.  You will be blessed abundantly doing your own thing - your one thing that you will be fully devoted to and follow through from the first day of Advent until Christmas.  As my husband always says, "different people are different".  Don't be afraid to be different.  Pray on what you should do and trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit that comes you way.

**Do your best daily**

Nicu experience:
Fighting the feedings - we are still struggling with these as I write this.  My little Lady will not finish a 50 ml bottle.  We are lucky to get a 40 ml bottle!   She's doing what she wants to do and there's really nothing I can do about it, except realize that this is on her time.  Not mine.  And ultimately it's all about His perfect timing.  Not mine.

Advent relation:
Throughout the days of Advent, you will have bumps and hurdles.  Sickness.  Crabby kids.  Crabby moms and dads.  Snowstorms.  Stress taking over.  And these things can and WILL knock down your perfectly planned "pick one" thing that you have committed to do throughout Advent.  So what do you do?  Throw up your arms and just quit?   I know you'll be tempted, as I have been before.  No way, friends.   Feel free to get caught up and read 2-3 pages in a day from your Advent devotional -or- hang up 2-3 ornaments on your Jesse tree and read the corresponding readings to go with it, whatever you chose to do.  Catch up. No big deal.  Or not.  Don't feel like you have to go back and finish those pages and readings.  You can totally skip ahead and offer that lost time as a prayer of trust that Our Lord allowed those bumps in the road for a reason.  You did your best and part of doing your best is accepting those not-so-good days when they roll around with love and joy.

**Waiting patiently**

Nicu experience:
This is the hardest right now for me.  Being so close - as she's taking over 50% of her 50 ml bottles and we are seeing improvement daily - but being SO far away - she has to be taking eight full 50 ml bottles for multiple days on her own.  Oy!!!  We are.  So.  Far.  Away.  Wait.  Be patient.  Wait.  It'll happen.  She'll catch on.  When SHE is ready.   Oy, again!!!  This is so true- all I can do is wait for this light bulb to turn on and it'll happen in her time.  In His time.  Until then, all I can do is wait.

Advent relation:
Wait.  And trust the Church and these four weeks of waiting before jumping right to Christmas.  As I'm typing this, there are 17 days til Thanksgiving.  One local channel is already playing 24 hr Christmas music.  It's not even Thanksgiving, let alone Christmas.  Stores are already selling Christmas decorations and supplies.  Christmas catalogs arriving in the mail. People are already sharing pics on FB of their beautifully decorated trees, and this will become more and more, as I think the "whole world" puts up their tree/decorations the day after Thanksgiving.  The "whole world" accept me.  It can be so easy to just jump and do whatever everyone else does, and jump to Christmas weeks before Christmas.  But the point of Advent is to wait.  To grow in patience.  To ready ourselves for the birth of Christ.  So I strongly encourage you to hold off and wait on doing some of these things until closer to Christmas.  Maybe put up your tree on the third week of Advent - the JOY candle week?    Maybe only listen to Christmas songs on the JOYful mysteries day (Mondays and Saturdays) and pray and meditate on the JOYful mystery of the Nativity?  You will be rewarded abundantly as you wait patiently for Christmas, as you celebrate Advent as Advent.

**Bringing home babe**

Nicu experience:
Maybe by the time I publish this post, my baby girl will be home?  God-willing!   I know one thing for sure - it will be the most joyous homecoming yet after all these long and trying days and weeks spent in the nicu.  I hope and pray I will remember these moments and lessons and blessings that came from the walls in this little nicu room.  Lessons of faith, patience, letting my little Lady be herself, doing my best daily and perseverance.  A baby will be brought home.  And there's no doubt, the hearts and hands waiting for her are MORE than ready to receive the gift that she is to us!!

Advent relation:
Having put off Christmas celebrations and decorations and preparing our hearts and souls for the Birth of The Babe brings me to tears every Christmas.  Even as each week gets closer and more candles are lit, my voice gets a little crackly and tears well up as I tell my littlest one to watch and see the new candle being lit at Mass.... "how many candles are there now", "only two more candles, two more weeks til Christmas, sweetie!", "we'll be celebrating Jesus' birth in less than a week now".   This countdown is so special.  It creates such joy and excitement!   And then when we walk into church on Christmas morning, the beauty just takes our breath away - the lights, the trees, the wreaths, the bells during the Gloria, the incense, the Christmas music, and let's not forget, the beautiful Nativity with baby Jesus lying in the manger.   The same Jesus who fed and nourished us at every Mass, never ever left us for a minute, loved us and walked with us as we prepared our hearts for Him.  The waiting and preparing for His Birth is that yearly renewal of how much Our God loves us and how much we love Him as Our Father, as the Holy Spirit guides us and inspires and walks with us daily, as the Newborn Babe who nourishes and feeds us through the gift of the Eucharist.  How readied our hearts have been made as we patiently waited for Him in so many ways.  How ready we now are to bring Him home and to share the JOY He brings to us with others.   May we never forget the Eucharistic Gift that came first as the Infant Christ, and how blessed we are every year to have the gift of Advent to reflect on and grow on these mysteries of Our Faith!!


This was the first month of a new blog hop, 
Siena Sisters Blog Hop!  
Click on the image below to see what other Catholic Women are 
sharing on this month's theme {{Keeping Advent, Advent}}....

Thursday, November 10, 2016

THE Most Perfect Gift To Give Your Children

++Thank you, God, for our nine 
beautiful young ones!!++

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Four Blessed Years With YOU!!

Four years with you sweet Rose!!  And what JOY you bring to our life daily!!

To celebrate your birthday here on the blog, we wanted to share FOUR (of the many) things we love about you...

1.  You are gorgeous!!

2.  You are our "brown eyed girl"

3.  Your SASSINESS!!  

4.  The JOY and happiness you bring to all around you - it is truly contagious!!  

And now, a bunch of pictures of you throughout this past year.  What a blessing you have been to us.  We love you, darling!!!


++Thank you, Lord, for Rose!!  Please bless her today on her birthday.  Help her feel your love. And please help her feel your presence all throughout the next year!!++

Monday, November 7, 2016

Hello, World!!

Meeting Lady for the first time - after my recovery and her being admitted into the NICU

Surprise, surprise!!

We have a new daughter that we welcomed into this big beautiful world a little over a two weeks ago!!

Our little Lady decided to come *before* the scheduled c-section (Nov 1 @ 36 weeks gestation).  She came the same day I received my first steroid shot.  I joked around, "if she's anything like her brother, she'll be born today or tomorrow, because my body went CrAzY after receiving the first steroid shot with him."  And by golly, I was right.  Shot was at 10:30am and she was born at 9:32pm that same day!!  Can you believe it?  After having received my shot in the morning, it just seemed like the contractions started picking up as the day went on.  
Waiting for my steroid shot

Having scheduled my Anointing to be that night after 4pm Mass, we knew I'd have to go to Confession beforehand.  So we showed up for Confessions at 3pm and got as many of us in as we could.  Then we all went to 4pm Mass as a family.  My Anointing was after Mass, and even though I had 10 contractions during Mass, I knew I'd have to stick it out and still have the Anointing done.  Super important to have that Sacrament going in to a high risk c-section, not really knowing it would be that night.  We were all still thinking it would be on November 1st, the scheduled date.
Receiving the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick
We had already planned on a "fish and chips" dinner to celebrate the Feast of Pope Saint John Paul II, so we grabbed Long John Silvers and were going to head home for dinner.  But with all my contractions, I asked Neil to drop me off at the hospital to be monitored and to save me some "fish and chips" for when I get back home.  (who knew that wouldn't happen!).
"Fish and Chips" for dinner on the Feast of Pope Saint John Paul II - I never even got a bite!  

When I showed up to the hospital, a few nurses laughed at me because they were in there that morning for my shot - and I joked then that I might be coming back to have a baby that night.  And there I was needing to be monitored for contractions.  I showed up around 6:30pm and was contracting every 3-5 minutes.  Doc started a round of IV fluids hoping that would settle things down.  They did for a little bit - like 10 minutes.  And then they picked up even more - contractions every 2 minutes.  They decided not to give me a shot of brethane because if they had to do a c-section, they said it makes the uterus relax.  And, they wouldn't want a relaxed uterus to do a section on - they would need strong muscle tone instead. Doctors and nurses in and out, and all of a sudden my doc came in and shared, "I think it's time to have a baby".  Doh!  Neil was still at home.  Thankfully they announced that at 8:20 and there was still prep they had to do.  So he made it on time!!  Barely though!  They started the c-section at 9:30pm and "Lady" was born at 9:32pm.
right after birth

With this being my 9th c-section, there were many risks - blood loss, adhesions, damage to other organs, possible emergency hysterectomy, and more.  And, miraculously, NONE of that happened!  I'm still in awe at how smooth things went.  After baby was born, Neil was swept away with her.  And the stitching and putting things back together began.  THE tricky part, for sure.  I couldn't do anything but pray Hail Mary's after Hail Mary's after Hail Mary's.  I really didn't ask any questions.  Just prayed and listened to what was being said.  I will never forget hearing the doctor assisting my doctor say, "I'm so surprised how smooth things are going."   ++thank you, God!!++ And, at another point during my section, my doctor asked the doctor who was assisting her...."Are you Catholic?"  He responded, "yes."  And then the conversation that followed was a very clear indicator that Our Lady was interceding so strongly on my behalf.  Not only intereceding but truly present right there in the OR.  My doctor started sharing how they are not Catholic, but their kids go to Catholic school and how her son is struggling learning the Mysteries of the Rosary, and she asked for tips on how to memorize them.  As I'm praying Hail Mary's after Hail Mary's after Hail Mary's.  WOWZERS!!  It took my breath away!  ++thank you, God!!++  In one hour time, my uterus and body was put back together and I was in recovery by 10:30pm.  Just miraculous that things went so smooth and so fast.

Now don't get me wrong, things were not perfect.  This was my 9th c-section.  The cut they made was in a thick part of the uterus and right next to that was paper thin uterus.  But doc said she didn't want to touch that part.  I had some adhesions and she dealt with them carefully.  She put in a mesh-like material called Intercede to help with future adhesions.  She also did a double layer/stitch so things are strong for "next time".  Another thing my doctor shared is that she's had many second repeat c-sections turn out worse than my 9th.  And, when I asked her if she attribute how smooth things went to a miracle and the power of prayer, she responded, "Yes!"   ++thank you, God!!++

Here are "Lady's" birth stats:
Birthday:  Saturday, October 22nd
Time:  9:32pm
Weight:  5 pounds 13.2 oz
Length:  17.5 inches

Phew!!  My brain and hands are tired from writing this post, so I'll make the rest short.  With "Lady" being early and a little preemie, she has spent some time in the nicu and is still there - going on two weeks plus.  She has conquered breathing issues, jaundice, is keeping her own temps - and is only working on taking down full bottles.  It's been tough having a baby in the nicu and not being able to bring them home, but we are trusting God and being patient until "Lady" is ready to come home.  What a HOMECOMING that will be!!!

 5 days old!!  Look at all my beautiful hair!!

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