Finding God in the NICU - A Letter from Kathryn

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Dear sweet sisters,

We are this, because of that.

Sometimes when life sucker punches us, we lament about the suffering and the pain and the loss. We have a hard time seeing God’s goodness because we don’t even recognize our own reflection in the mirror.

When our fifth child was born premature, I struggled. Really struggled. When they started the IVs, I had to turn away. When Luke wouldn’t latch to nurse, I cried and felt like a failure. When he coded, stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated and emergency transported for surgery, my world completely fell apart.

And through my tears, I finally opened my eyes and saw God.


He was in my husband’s strong arms, holding me together. He was in the priest’s hands as he baptized our son in the neonatal intensive care unit bay. He was in the nurses’ kind words as they said the just-right-thing in the just-right-moment. And, he was in our Dominican Sisters eyes as they wiped away the tears from my own.

Maybe you aren’t in the NICU, but I bet you are no stranger to suffering and worrying and wondering and failing. Perhaps the college major you had all picked out is turning into a nightmare of a choice. That boy you have your eye on, maybe the relationship is failing and you are broken in two. The future you so lovingly crafted and prayed for, perhaps it’s shattered on the floor. Or, maybe your child/spouse/family member just received a life-altering diagnosis and you are reeling.

Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt, y’all.

The heart of a woman is surrounded by love. I believe that’s Mary’s greatest gift to us as women. It was my love of child, love of spouse and love of God that allowed me to weather my life’s greatest trial and be thankful for the suffering.

How is that possible? Because just as fire refines the metal, the suffering burned away my immaturity, my arrogance, my pride, my ignorance, my fears. And I came out a different person. The scars of that suffering will never leave me, just as the physical scars from Luke’s seven surgeries will never leave him. But we are this, because of that.

And I am grateful.

I am more mature in faith, more humble, more kind and more trusting because I saw hell and God carried me through. No matter what cross lies ahead for you to carry, trust that God won’t abandon you. There’s no place you go, that He hasn’t gone before.

Warrior on, sweet sisters!

Get to know Kathryn

Tell us a little bit about yourself! 

Kathryn Whitaker Headshot

Howdy! I’m Kathryn, a 42, fifth-generation Texan balancing the trifecta of mom-wife-entrepreneur.

What do the first two hours of your day look like?

Most mornings, I rise with the proverbial chickens at 5:40am and get my butt kicked at Pure Barre. Then, it’s back home to finish getting 5 of my 6 kids ready for school, ages 16-7. On the way to school drop-off, the kids and I pray, offer intentions and I send them out the van door with a “make good choices” and a sign of the cross. Then, it’s back home for breakfast with my husband and a quick shower before my 3yo wakes. If I’m lucky, I can knock out some graphic design work before 8am!

Describe your favorite part of your current occupation.

That I still don’t have it figured out. In the early years of motherhood, I was destined to master it. You know, conquer all the things because I had read all the books. Now, there is freedom and liberation in knowing that I don't know jack, but God does. I lean on Him heavily, mostly because I have two teenage boys in the house.

Describe one fear or personal challenge that keeps you up at night.

For me, it’s that my children might lose sight of God and not come back. I’m prepared (ha) for them to make mistakes. We all do. But what I pray fervently for is that their love of God and His abiding mercy and goodness to always be with them, no matter what life choices they make, never leaves them.

Tell us about the first time you experienced a strong sense of belonging in the Catholic Church.

Hands down, World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, Canada. As a convert, I had never seen millions of people worship in the same way, say the same prayers, genuflect and kneel in all the right places—all at the same time. It was overwhelming and seriously awesome. In addition, I think we all had the desire to unplug the stage sound system at 3am when cultures around the world were singing. Everyone was like, “Go to sleep already!” We still laugh about that. 

Tell us about a woman you look up to.

When I was pregnant with our preemie, my husband and I took an unexpected pilgrimage to France and were able to visit Lisieux, as in St. Therese of. At the time, we had no idea how crazy my pregnancy and our son’s life would be, but I remember sitting in that basilica being moved by her presence. With each turn of his complicated birth and first few years, I turned to her “little way” of loving, of being. The irony is not lost on me that my smallest child taught me to love in the biggest way. I think that kind of love would be St. Therese approved.

Favorite character ever. Go!

I am so horrible at these. No judgment. I’m going with Mary Poppins. I often feel like her as I McGyver things from my diaper bag or van floor to solve a kid problem. I need her carpet bag. I also need her British accent and her impeccable taste in manners. I’m a southern gal, so those aren’t lost on me. She just inspires folks around her to take pride in their behavior, how they treat people and how they see the world. She’s the best, er, supercalifragilisticexpealidocious.

The Catholic Woman

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