There’s something captivating about the New Year. Maybe it’s the prospect of leaving behind the old, negative or undesirable aspects of life. Perhaps it’s the chance to start afresh with new goals and new beginnings. It might simply be the sense of surviving another year.
I’ve determined there's two things I appreciate about the New Year: the first is opportunity for reflection. I savour the time thinking on all that has happened within the previous year. Sometimes I spend time noticing, other times I evaluate. It’s fulfilling to take inventory of the occurrences of the last 12 months.
The second, is the wonder and excitement of a new year with all the potential possibilities that await us. If December 31st is a farewell, January 1st is a warm welcome to the promise of things to come.
As I reflected on the past year I realized how quickly things could change. I determined what was important to my life. The biggest lesson of 2011 was learning how little control we have. Like most people, I tried to maintain control over as many aspects of my life as possible. When my perceived sense of control crumbled, a feeling of helplessness took its place.
Control is a funny thing. So much is merely perception. We perceive we have control of things we don’t. Losing control or feeling a lack of control is a slippery slope to helplessness. Admittedly that was the feeling that characterized much of my November and December.
I wanted 2012 to be different. I wanted that icky feeling of being a useless bystander gone. I did the only thing I could think of, I relinquished control. Even though it wasn't mine to begin with, I mentally let the idea of control go. In my heart, I knew if I could change our situation I would. I couldn’t. Most everything was happening to us. Instead of trying to control things I could not, I’d take a deep breath, observe and then control the only thing I truly could: my reactions. The result was relief and peace. I wasn’t perfect. I continued to fret and sought control at times but I made a more concerted effort to chill out.
I had mixed feelings about 2011. It was the the toughest year of my life because of David's premature birth and everything else going on in my life. In that sense I was glad it was coming to an end. In the same breath, we were blessed with a beautiful baby with an extraordinarily strong will and sweet nature.
I had my faith tested and came out on the other side feeling closer to God than ever before. For that I was thankful to 2011. It was definitely a memorable year.
We’d originally planned on doing the countdown in the NICU but altered our plans and celebrated New Years Eve with the NICU crew and kids. It's a decision I don't regret. We had an absolute blast hanging out, eating treats and gabbing. I promised myself I’d do my best not to let the other kids get lost in the situation we were in. It was a hard balance to achieve.
We rang in 2012 and my wish was for it to be filled with health and happiness for all my friends and family. We cheersed to Max, David, Liam and all the other sweet babes of the NICU.
I truly thought 2012 would be our year.
So much so that I wrote in my journal in bold all capital letters: A BRAND NEW BEGINNING.
As a sidebar, when I read back my journal I felt so sorry for myself. Not present day Michelle but the oblivious mom who wrote in her journal with so much hope and optimism.
In fairness, the end to 2011 and the beginning of 2012 were positive. Reuben and the kids had arrived safely home on New Year's Day. David was rocking the CPAP. I had checked back into the Easter Seal House.
I was writing about missing the comforts of the home we’d stayed in including their king size bed with the most fantastic memory foam pillow, the extra beds for the children, the laundry room and regular sized fridge. In my journal I recounted the small joys found in regular sized towels and two ply toilet paper.
I had been lulled into a sense of normalcy as David floated along.
I wasn’t worrying or holding vigil beside David’s bed. I contemplated New Year's resolutions and binge read, “Life without Limits.”
I quickly learned 2012 wasn’t an absolute fresh start. It brought with it some of the mess of 2011. David went from great, to okay, to not-so-good in a matter of a day.
To make a long story short David was reintubated and put back on the oscillator, he was off feeds and had 3 IV's. Bing, bang, boom we were in the gutter. Darn. How could it be?
David had NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis). Quite possibly the scariest thing in the NICU. It's a problem bacteria in the gut and common in preemies especially the micros. It wreaks havoc on their little bodies. You never like to see doctors sucking blood out of your baby's stomach. Especially out of a baby who was usually so vibrant but had become completely lethargic and exhausted. Scary for sure.
Every time Reuben left it was like David fell apart. What could we do? We waited. I stayed at the hospital to monitor him. It was late but they were constantly making changes to his medications, air pressures and his settings so I wanted to be around for the results. The nurses got me a bed in the hospital. I didn’t know if it was the sickest he'd been or a crash from doing so well. I prayed all the medications would do their job and desperately hoped they caught it early enough.
We asked so much of David but I knew God had a plan for him. It was my job to cheer our little man on. I believed it was only a bump on our path. I repeatedly thought, “This too shall pass!”