Mindful Wanderings, NICU Updates

Today’s Mindful Wanderings

Olivia has been out of the womb for 11 weeks and 2 days, but she was 8 weeks early so her corrected age today is 3 weeks and 2 days or 43 weeks and 2 days. 🙃 She looks like an entirely different being, but her soul – her spirit – that has been a constant. My dear @melissalflower came for a visit this past weekend and reminded me of one my absolute favorite Shel Silverstein poems:

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS

Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me –
Anything can happen, child,


(I’m not crying. I just have watery eyes from the dry air in the hospital. Why? Are you crying?)

I think we all need to hear this piece of wisdom for the times that we doubt ourselves, our intuition, our calling, our vocation ordained by God. This time, I needed to hear it for Olivia. Because what’s weird about moms and babies is that even though she is no longer in my womb, we are still so intimately connected. That will continue past this postpartum stage. But right now it is as if I can translate and transfer this wisdom and encouragement to her simply by my knowing it in the same way I was able to pump blood and nutrients to her.
I’m coming off of a few heavy weeks of negativity and frustration. Yesterday, after a family meeting with Olivia’s primary teams I left the hospital feeling defeated again. Right when I thought I was out of my funk. On my walk back (to our temporary) home I remembered the Shel Silverstein poem. For Olivia we have heard our fair share of shouldn’ts, impossibles, won’ts, and nevers. We have heard them. And Olivia has shown us anything can happen, anything can be.

Mindful Wanderings

Today’s Mindful Wanderings


Friday was this guy’s 29th birthday. I’ve been mulling around and crafting words for this post since Thursday. Warning: this is a long one! We met when we were 17 and never could either one of us ever have imagined what was in store for us. I know, what a cliche, right? But how do you express the loyalty and growth that started as two teenagers and developed into a marriage, and a family of four, that has asked each of us to simultaneously grow out of and into ourselves. The growth can be gentle and slow, but mostly the growth busts through the walls we each carefully built. What I admire about Casey, though, is that when that growth decides to crash into his life he looks at the pieces and continues to move forward. What has resulted is a person that takes being a father and a husband and a Catholic very seriously. All things that ask you to surrender who you thought you were supposed to be. Surrendering to the unknown is something Casey and I both have continually done along this path we have forged together muttering, “I don’t know. We will figure it out.” A set of phrases we have had to become very, very comfortable with – especially in the last 2.5 months – but a concept that comes much easier to Casey than to me. This mentality, has shaped Casey to become a person that I am incredibly proud to call my husband and my friend. Olivia and Oscar are very lucky to have him. I am lucky to have him. I am so glad that we are doing life and family together because he isn’t afraid to have the tough conversations and to put in the hard work. The best part though, is that even in the midst of what has been the most stressful and trying time in our life thus far, I still find myself in tears from laughter – even in the NICU surrounded by monitors and sick babies and sterile rooms. Happy birthday, Casey. Here’s to many more years of figuring it out!

Mindful Wanderings

Today’s Mindful Wanderings


Casey and Oscar came back today from a short trip home taking care of a few things. It wasn’t easy being away from Oscar for a few nights. This NICU experience actually forced my first nights away from him. He can’t come on to the floor Olivia is on until flu season is over so he hasn’t even met her yet. Until this protocol is lifted, I am forced to figure out how to split my time between my two kids. I long for the moments that I can be holding Olivia constantly like you do with any newborn, and watch Oscar play with his trucks. When I was pregnant I daydreamed about slow afternoons snuggling both of them or watching Oscar play while soaking in small fingers and toes.

I know that I still will get those moments (peppered with moments of realizing Oscar is a giant toddler that doesn’t know how to handle an infant), but these current moments of having to split my time tears my heart apart. And each day Olivia is more alert and I feel more connected to her and I can’t stand leaving her. But Oscar needs me, too. Each day brings a new schedule as I figure out this balance. Tonight I got to put Oscar to sleep after dinner and then hopped onto the shuttle back to the hospital to practice breastfeeding and to give Olivia a bath. If tonight is like last night, I will put her back in her isolette and watch her root around to which I can only offer a pacifier to soothe her, until tomorrow when I get to hold her again. This month has brought out the complexity in life and made us face it head on — the thin veil between life and death: grief, sorrow, sadness and joy, delight, and warmth all simultaneously sharing a space in our hearts.