Preemie babies and Theology of the Body

I know it’s been a while since I last wrote anything for this blog, and I’m not making excuses, but life definitely got in the way of keeping up with this blog. However … I’m back now and hopefully I can contribute more to the blogosphere.

Ok…. So update….. I had a fourth baby… Another wonderful baby BOY! I know what you’re thinking… Another boy? Was it planned?  Were you going for a girl this time around? And. … You gonna go for the girl?? As in… Are you going to go for the fifth baby?

Let me start by saying that I love my kids and they bring me so much joy…even if they drive me crazy sometimes. To answer your lingering questions though… Yes another boy; yes it was planned with more thought; no we weren’t going for a girl persay, but if we happened to be blessed with a girl, great… If not, I know boys, so it’s not much of a stretch; but to answer the big question you’re all thinking…Yes we are open to having more children!

Say whaaaat?? Yes… We’re open to having more if God blesses us with more children. That’s part of what we agreed to when we took our wedding vows: “Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?” and the answer is an absolute YES! I just hope we are able to because I have had 2 C-section. It is a little more complicated to have children after the second C-section.

The story behind this little one is a bit of an epic tale. Rios and I were hoping to have a 4th child because when we first got married, we wanted to have 2 or 4 kids, so after Aaron was born we realized we would love to have another, so we decided to get back on the Billings Ovulation Method bandwagon and intentionally work with God to make it happen. It definitely wasn’t as easy as it was before. I was at my heaviest weight and having very irregular cycles.

Sidenote: using the Billings Ovulation Method has helped me figure out issues within my cycle.

http://www.toronto.naturalfamilyplanning.ca

I figured out that I had thyroid issues and low vitamin D, so as soon as I got those things taken care of, I found out that I was pregnant! What a joyous occasion! This pregnancy, however, was my hardest one to date. I was told that there was a chance that this baby would have down syndrome. I also ended up getting gestational diabetes with this pregnancy. On top of that, this baby was considered high risk because he was an intrauterine growth restricted baby aka (iugr) with only 2 blood vessels running through the umbilical cord.

So when he was born, he was 2 pounds 5 ounces. Even at 34 weeks, he was as tiny as a 30 weeker. He was very feisty when he was born though. His apgar score was 10. You don’t even see that in babies that are born to term. Needless to say, I knew he would change my world when he arrived. I wasn’t even expecting him to come when he did. I was in the hospital for a non stress test: they hook you up to the monitors to check the movements of the baby, but during the test, the doctor said his movements were not adequate, so they sent me for an ultrasound. After the ultrasound, they sent me back to labour and delivery for my results, and during that time, the doctor said that the fluid around the baby was depleting. This began my journey as a preemie mom.

He was delivered via C-section and I was happy but at the same time sad. It’s hard to sit back knowing that your little baby was taken so early from the warmth of your womb and now has to stay in the care of others. I was also sad knowing that the possibility of a large family was now limited by the multiple surgeries.

The first time I got to meet him was after breakfast the next day. I couldn’t believe my eyes at how small he was. I didn’t know what to do because he was so tiny. I was in awe that I had been a co-creator along with my husband and with God to bring this little human into the world. What a huge blessing this little guy has been in our lives.

He has been in the nicu for just over three weeks now, and it has definitely been an experience. There is an element of letting go of your little baby in the hopes that he will get the best care even though you wish he could come home with you. It’s realizing that you can’t give him what he needs right now. That he needs to be in the care of the nurses while you are at home waiting and pumping. There is also the element of pumping even when you don’t want to.

Let me pause for a minute and reflect on pumping versus breastfeeding. Let me tell you one thing… Breastfeeding is sooooooo much easier than pumping. When a mom breastfeeds her baby, you’re all he needs. No extra bottles, people, and sanitizing. But on the other hand, pumping requires an element of giving of yourself in a different way. Even though your baby isn’t with you physically, you are still responsible for producing the milk that sustains him. You still have to wake up every three hours to pump or your milk either won’t come in or it will diminish. It’s a different kind of giving of yourself. It is a weird feeling being away from your baby because while you’re pumping to keep up your milk supply, you’re essentially feeding a machine. It’s also a bit harder to connect with your baby because you are separated from him. When pumping you still have the very real consequences of sore nipples. It hurts and sometimes you want to cry because you are tired, sore, and cranky, but you keep moving forward because you know that little life that you birthed is depending on you.

So how does the Theology of the Body relate to having a preemie baby? It relates very much. In general, babies are the epitome of the Theology of the Body. Birthing a baby is living the Theology of the Body. But having a preemie is another aspect of TOB. It is giving of yourself even when you are away from the baby. It is trusting the nurses to take care of your new little bundle of joy. Without those nurses, you would be a hot mess. You have to rely on your village to raise a family. If we are meant for communion, you definitely live this way because those nurses are the ones that are caring for your little one while your are at home trying to live your life and be a part of your baby’s life. They make it possible for your baby to thrive, and sure it’s their job, but at the same time, they love what they do and the nurses at the nicu where my little guy is, well they’re fantastic! I want to thank each and every nurse that has taken care of my baby. If you’re reading this, please know that I appreciate all you do and I thank you for loving my son while I’ve been unable to care for him fully. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

I once asked Christopher West what kind of advice he could give to a mother who was about to give birth to a baby in a few weeks, and his response was perfect.

“I have nothing but deep reverence for the mystery about to be revealed through the Theology of your body!! Christ used labor pains and birth as an image of the paschal mystery. You are entering bodily into a sign that encompasses the mystery of existence, of creation, fall, and redemption. Live it prayerfully… Offer all of your sufferings for the redemption of the world… The veil between heaven and earth is very thin in these moments… ”

– Christopher West

As I reflect on the actual delivery of my new baby boy… It is very much like living in union with Christ at the time. I was laying down on the operating table, vulnerable and in the form of Christ. My arms were spread out just like Christ’s were on the cross. I was giving life and at the same time losing a bit of myself and my heart to this little life. Every time a new baby is born into my family, my heart expands to allow more love to exist. Love can only grow more with the addition of more children. That is what it means to live the Theology of the Body to live freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully. Love until it hurts, and even when it hurts, keep loving more because that’s how we are called to love one another. We are called to love one another as Christ loves the church in that he gave his life up for us. Love day to day in the small things and you will be able to love in the big things!

Welcome to the world Jacob Xavius Manrique-Reyes! We love you!

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One thought on “Preemie babies and Theology of the Body

  1. Jeanette, congratulations to you and Rios!

    As a preemie myself, I can only imagine the worry and concern that my dear mother had for me at my birth just as you had for baby Jacob. Your incredible trust in the Lord, especially throughout this pregnancy, is testament to your faith.

    May God continue to bless you and Rios, baby Jacob, and all your children!
    St. Jacob the Patriarch and St. James the Apostle, pray for him!

    Liked by 1 person

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