SummaryWhen the Berken family chose Seton Home Study School they could not have imagined how the flexible program would help them on the challenging journey ahead.
After homeschooling our 5 children with a different homeschooling program for 7 years, we prayerfully decided to enroll our family in the Seton Home Study program in 2015.
We had gone to a Catholic Homeschooling Conference, and we knew that Seton was a good, solid Catholic curriculum, and so our adventure with Seton began!
But in September of that same year, we were faced with a heartbreaking challenge. Pregnant with our sixth child, my water broke prematurely at 17 weeks gestation, in what turned out to be the beginning of our “Faith journey.” After multiple visits with specialists, and having been given very little hope, I had to deliver by an emergency C-section at only 24 weeks gestation.
Our daughter, whom we named Faith, weighed in at only one pound ten ounces, and eleven inches long, but she became a testament to our family’s Catholic faith. My husband, Jason, and I had to leave our very premature newborn in the NICU, and pray like we had never prayed before.
For nearly eight months, I drove over an hour one way every day to be with our daughter. We managed to be faithful to our school work in spite of this. I would manage our schooling during the day, and Jason would take over in the evenings with all the responsibilities of the family life, i.e., supper, baths, and bedtime.
After being at the same hospital for eight months without making sufficient progress, Faith was transferred to a higher level of care hospital, three hours away from home. I stayed day and night for three long months with Faith, educating myself on what it would be like to take care of our baby at home. While we remained three hours from home, the children were able to continue their studies because of the lesson plans that are provided by Seton.
The Blessing of Flexibility
Homeschooling our children throughout this NICU experience has truly been a blessing. I called Seton and told them about our situation, and they were so compassionate; they showed us just how flexible they really are.
Seton Home Study allowed our family to push our original start date back so that I wouldn’t have to be so concerned about getting the children’s school work turned in by a particular date, during an already stressful time. “I cannot even begin to imagine going through what we were going through, trying to get the children to and from school, much less worry about getting homework done on time, while you were away with the baby,” my husband told me.
After an eleven month NICU stay, Faith was finally able to come home. She is home with a trach that helps her to breathe, on a home ventilator, as well as a feeding tube. Homeschooling has given us the freedom and flexibility that we need to be able to function as a family with a child that has a disability.
Faith receives different therapies throughout the month, and those services provided to her are allowing the other children to learn things that they otherwise might not be taught.
Being homeschooled, the children are present for so much more than would typically be possible. Stephen, Andrew, Kathryne, Melanie, and Gianna, ranging in ages from 13 to 5, have stood in the NICU and witnessed all its miracles, giving them the opportunity to experience medical technology firsthand.
The NICU nurses and doctors at both hospitals were very enthusiastic about involving the children and teaching them about X-rays, IV pumps, feeding tubes, medicines, ventilators and all other types of machines that they use on a daily basis. My children, at such a young age, know so much about the respiratory system, as much as I do at this point!
Finding a New Normal
Our family will be forever grateful to the Seton staff for the love and support that they have shown us. They were so amazing, reassuring me that we needed to take the time and get through it all. They put us in their prayer intentions there at the school, so that we would be remembered during daily Mass and prayer, and my husband and I have no doubt that God heard the prayers of the faithful!
As we continue to homeschool, we are trying to find a new normal. The older children help the younger children, the younger children entertain Faith while the older children are spending time on their lessons with me. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are so blessed that Faith is finally home with us.
Eventually Faith will not need all the medical equipment that she has currently, those things that she needed in order to be able to get home. It could take three to four years doctors say, but it really is all in Faith’s time. She needs to have time to grow, so that her lungs, which are severely underdeveloped will mature enough so as not to need all of her equipment.
We have realized throughout this journey, that God has his own plan, we just have to trust that he will get us through. So while we wait on Faith to grow, we continue to homeschool with Seton Home Study.
We are so blessed to be a part of this amazing school. When we enrolled over a year ago, we never would have imagined that our family would be caught up in such a whirlwind, but it happened.
And Seton and its staff have gone above and beyond for us, and for that we are thankful to have them on this journey of Faith.