Sunday, October 29, 2017

The messy side of prematurity

In the NICU we learned about the medical risks of prematurity - how to keep their health stable. We learned about the physical risks - their vision, hearing, muscle development and risk for cerebral palsy. The area we didn't talk much about? The neurological and emotional risks...those are hidden disabilities and challenges that can make some of the other risks be handled in stride or a tougher battle. 

From birth each baby was so different! Sure, as they've grown we can tell which parent they take after more or collectively that our kids our connected...but even before that, Brennan was sweet and laid back, Landon was happy and unpredictable and Brooke was intense and more temperamental. They're maturing, developing and gaining skills, but those personality traits have served them well.

Fast forward to mastering skills, communication, making choices, critical thinking, impact of friends - that's neurological and emotional. One kiddo struggles regulating emotions, more than the others. Ironically, that's often associated with prematurity. This kid is wired uniquely, perceives things uniquely and needs uniquely. Though they were born a set, they're so different.

When emotions are regulated, situations happen, conversations happen, decisions can be made pretty evenly. When they're not regulated, emotions get in the way of how those situations are perceived, how communication happens, whether or not decisions can even be made...

This past weekend was a breakpoint for that one kiddo. It was messy, really messy. Emotions were raw and all over the place. The last week or so, was kinda like an emotional highway...some turns and hills and some straightaways.  Saturday all bets were off - strategies weren't working, they were just get more emotional and less thoughtful until it clicked.

After the breaking point and we got the kiddo into a relaxing bath, their emotions starting coming down, like the other side of the mountain...they accepted (and did) the consequences they had earned and spoke calmly. While they were in the bath though, I went back to the kitchen where the breakdown happened and was struck by the mess...Kleenexes, balled up paper, pencils and notebooks, so many emotions, frantic, and overwhelmed - then the Bible verse reminder for the upcoming week defining and describing LOVE. What a day for that verse to be our tone for the week! 

Themes throughout the service Sunday was compassion, entering into each other's pain and how much we need God and being Christ to others. Just the conviction I needed...this afternoon, this one was in a great mood to learn and we went through 8 tips to control emotions. We talked about so many emotions (like a bazillion - their words!) slowing down to feel them, recognizing how situations are impacted by emotions from their perspective. They were unbelievably thoughtful, compassionate and kind!  I'm sure we'll have a ton more conversations and hopefully they'll be like this! This one is beautifully made - the intensity that helped them survive, though a challenge now, will be a force channeled for love so deeply and fully!

Writing this more for me to process and remember than anything (!) but it might resonate with some other families in a "mess" right now. As a parent it's so hard to try to continually teach and explain, (often feeling like it falls on deaf or unwilling ears), but how incredible when God works and helps them understand! He knows how we're uniquely wired, made and gifted and will remold messes into creations. (I'm sure He's working on my heart, patience and perspective as much as them handling their emotions!) Saturday started pretty awful, but this weekend ended with lots of beautiful moments!