[Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a two part blog story. Click here to read Part 1.]
Vivian came into the world on December 5, 2014. Six weeks before she was supposed to. The morning I left I remember as if it was today. It was supposed to be a routine visit with the specialist deciding how close to my actual due date they would induce me or let me go into labor on my own. I was then going stop at home, change my clothes and then head out the door again to volunteer at Christmas at the Mansions in Little Falls by 1pm. The day was supposed to be a normal Christmas season day. A day filled with a plan for our baby’s arrival in January and finished with traditional Christmas cheer. Those plans quickly changed when it was decided by the doctors at my appointment on Thursday December 4th that our baby would be arriving within 12 hours. I called Nate. It was a terrifying moment in our lives, not knowing what was going to happen. All the fears and worries I was carrying throughout the pregnancy came rushing in. Everything I tried to push aside of “what ifs” were coming at me headstrong. All the lists of “wants”, “things to do”, “things to make”, and “things to buy” left. I was scared.
When I think of Advent, the first thing I think of is the fears I had the Advent season of 2014. I think of my small five-year-old son Everett. A family friend had given Everett a chocolate Advent calendar and continues to gift Everett and Vivian this every year. When Vivian was born we were in the hospital for a week. Between Vivian and I, we were in ICU to NICU to normal rooms to finally being able to come home. Flowers were sent to us. Texts and calls of congratulations of prayers were sent our way. Special people in my life came and stayed with us. The most precious gift I would receive is when Everett would come and see us in the hospital and he would bring the tabs from the days he opened up on his advent calendar. On the back of each tab he had written the date he had opened it.
Each one of those tabs reminded me of all the lists and to dos I thought I needed to do. I was forgetting the most important list. I was forgetting to open my heart to Christmas. Everything melted away. I didn’t feel guilt of not being able to give Everett everything he wanted or what I thought he wanted. When he would come and visit Vivian and I, we snuggled in my hospital bed just like we did a week prior when Vivian was still in my tummy.
During Advent, we focus our attention to the birth of Christ. We focus on what a joyous time this is. The excitement and joy a new baby brings to a family. During the Advent of 2014, I thought of Mary every single day. The Christmas of 2014 we didn’t travel to holiday gatherings or parties. We didn’t celebrate with any family or friends. We stayed in our house, just the four of us. I thought of Mary and cried as I held my new perfect tiny baby. Vivian was so so tiny. I thought of how Mary had plans and lists on the arrival of her new baby. I thought of how she did not plan on having her baby in Bethlehem, let alone a stable. I thought of how little she had to wrap her precious gift to the world in.
Advent is a time for joy. A time to open our hearts. A time to find love in the people around us. A time to be present in the extraordinary ordinary moments.
— Brenda Rudolph is a wife, mother, and lives in central Minnesota. She writes regularly about life with her family on their dairy farm on her blog Raising A Farmer.