You guys, Advent was going to be so much fun! I was excited, and wrote this Very Catholic Mom Post about all the cool Advent family traditions we were going to start this year.
Now, before I write any further, I still am very excited for these traditions we (attempted) to start. They are concrete ways our kids can understand the season, and they are ways we as a family can come closer together and anticipate Jesus’ birth.
But… this Advent, almost nothing went as planned. But the toughest part was the health issues we dealt with as a family over the past two weeks.
Our Sunday Advent family dinners were interrupted Week 2, when Felicity (age 6) had a stomach bug. Several of the rest of us went down with a mild virus that week, which included several changes of sheets #ifyouknowwhatImean.
Our Sunday Advent family dinners were interrupted Week 3, when Mary got sick in her high chair. And the rest of us battled a stronger stomach bug through the first half of the week.
But then things took a scary turn. We had a hard time getting Mary’s fever down for over a day, her breathing was rapid, and she was not looking well. So I took her into the ER.
She was diagnosed with RSV and Pneumonia, and we were admitted for what would turn out to be a two night hospital stay.
Let me tell you… anyone who has ever had a sick child… you know. And my prayers are with anyone whose kiddo has a longer, more harrowing hospital stay than ours did. Because…
It broke me.
She’s so little. She can’t talk. She can’t explain how she’s feeling. She can’t fully understand. She was hooked up to fluids and an oxygen monitor, and poked and prodded and given medication.
Through that first night as her levels dropped, I stayed up holding an oxygen mask on the face of my sleeping child. As she worked hard to breathe, and fought to fight fever, I held her so she knew her mother was near.
There we were. Work, and school, and plans aside. Spending the some of the final days of Advent…
Taking care of a helpless baby that we love more than our own lives.
I would have traded places with her if I could. I wanted her back stressing me out by climbing on the coffee table, and on chairs, and finding hazardous things and otherwise keeping me on my toes.
In Advents Past, I have thought about Mary, heavy laden with child, preparing to give birth. That’s what I had hoped to do this Advent as well.
But, as the fluorescent hospital lights filtered through the blinds onto my chair where my baby slept, I thought of a different Mary.
A Mary who saw her baby suffer. Who stayed by his side. Who knew the anguish of watching her child in pain.
Sometimes knowing you aren’t alone helps. But I also knew I had someone who understood who could pray for me while I could barely summon the words to pray myself.
And it’s all connected, really, isn’t it?
Welcome To Our World
There’s a song by Chris Rice called Welcome to Our World that I watched with Mary on Praise Baby Christmas while she was sick, but before we took her in to the hospital.
One of the verses strikes that connection in a powerful way.
“Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born”
-Chris Rice, Welcome to Our World
That little baby was going to grow into a man who would right all that is wrong. Who would heal us. Whose suffering would bring about our ultimate redemption.
And as Mary now sleeps peacefully in her own crib, there is so much to be thankful for. We’ve had a rough couple of weeks, but we are overall healthy, and we will heal. We have time together as a family coming up through the end of the year, so we can enjoy each other’s company. We have years to build our family traditions together. And so much more.
So whether our Advent is filled with family traditions that help us joyfully anticipate His arrival, or whether we have fallen upon some harder times, let us give thanks.
He is coming.
He is coming to fix all that is broken.
Come Lord Jesus.