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}}....

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