Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Birth of Miriam

On December 9th we attended a beautiful Advent devotion at the Bishop's cathedral. Grandma Valerie had flown in several days before and we tried to fill the days with distractions as we all awaited your arrival. We sat at the cathedral and listened to a choir that sounded like angels sing the old Psalms and heard scriptures read about Christ's coming. That evening, almost all seemed right in the world.

After returning home from the Advent devotion, I couldn't fall asleep. It was after midnight and was now December 10th. I was uncomfortable and tossed and turned. I decided to get up and use the restroom for the hundredth time and felt warm fluid drip down my leg. I knew my bag of waters was leaking. The time was 1:30am I woke up your father who immediately jumped out of bed (rare for him) and started putting things together. With my last two births happening very quickly, we knew we had to move fast if we were going to make it to the hospital. I had one real contraction and Max insisted on calling our doula and doctor. I hesitated, thinking that it was crazy to call anyone after just ONE contraction. He had no intention of listening to me, made two phone calls and told me we were going. Through the next three contractions I quickly put on some mascara, threw a few last items in my bag and complained about how crazy it was to be leaving so early. Max shuffled me to the car and we were on our way.

I rode most of the way with my eyes closed, breathing through contractions which were getting more and more intense. What I did see was several stop signs passed by and a few red lights passed. Max knew more than I did how quickly we needed to get there. When we finally arrived I asked Max to please let me wait for our doula to arrive before we went in. With the next two contractions, I started to make pushing noises and we both knew we needed to start walking, without our doula, or this baby was going to be born in the car.

Once inside, I made a beeline for the bathroom. In my primal state, I wanted to be in a tiny room where no one could see me. Looking back, and Emergency Room bathroom probably wasn't the cleanest place to choose. I waited there until Max told me a wheelchair was ready for me. Generally, I would have rather walked to the labor and delivery unit, but I knew that if I attempted that walk I wouldn't make it to the 5th floor with a baby still inside me. I was wheeled up to labor and delivery while Max made small talk with the tech pushing me. This annoyed me to no end, but Max is always polite and amiable, no matter what situation we are in.

We arrived at triage and I breathed through another contraction leaning up against the wall. I thought back to the sign on my mirror at home with a quote by St. Rose de Lima, "Pain is never permanent" and found strength and comfort in that truth. A nurse asked me to lay in the bed and get strapped up to monitors. I told her there was no physical way I could possibly lay in a bed. She didn't like this very much and told me for the sake of my baby's health we needed to check on her. I asked where my doctor was and heard her say behind me, "I'm right here." Relief flooded me. She told the nurses I needed to be checked right away as I had precipitous labors. At this point my doula arrived. Again, relief flooded me. I was asked to get on the bed to be checked and instinctively got on the bed on my hands and knees. I thought in my mind, "Whatever needs to be done has to be done like this because I am not moving!" With the next contraction I could feel baby Miriam coming down. Dr. L. checked me and said I was complete and ready to push, which I already knew. With the next contraction I pushed while placing my hand where I could feel Miriam coming. As her head emerged, I was able to feel every inch of it and control my pushing. With one more contraction, at 2:41am, her tiny body slipped from mine and she was lifted to my chest. She was pink and tiny and beautiful. Everyone in the room was shocked at the short length of the labor; 70 minutes from the first contraction to a baby in hand.

Miriam, you are a joy to behold and sweetness incarnate. I wake every day excited to snuggle you and behold the ways in which you will grow. I love you sweet baby girl.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Trust and Peace - A Much Needed Update

How has it been 11 months since I last posted? How have I not even mentioned here that this little one will join us in 6 weeeks?

Isn't he/she cute? I think so already. Look at that button nose. I sit here 34 weeks pregnant feeling sweet kicks all over my belly thinking about the year gone by. In February I went on a silent retreat where I felt God speak into my heart that it was time for another baby. And here I wait, with a swollen belly, ready for this little one to completely turn our world upside down. The word of the year has been "trust", and it has been tested for me over and over again. Trust that I would have a healthy pregnancy. Trust that I would find a good doctor and be at peace with delivering at a hospital. Trust in leaving our old homeschooling co-op to try something completely new. Trust that God would provide grace to become a better wife and a better mother. He never disappoints,  not even for a moment. Not only has there been abundant grace, but there has also been profound peace covering me like a warm winter blanket on a cold night.

The children are all amazing. They deserve to be written about every day, not once a year. Maybe the once a year writings will still mean something to them someday. Maybe it will help them understand just how much they are loved and cherished by this undeserving mother.

Peanut, you're not so much a peanut anymore. This year you turned 10. I had a mini breakdown over it. You who are my first born and my only son...how can you be 10? You are not only an amazing child, but an incredible person and friend. Your social skills continue to amaze me. You can hold a conversation with a group of adults and make them all laugh with your great sense of humor. You are incredibly intelligent. You retain almost everything you read and can spit out facts about history and things of the world much more readily than I can. This year you became an altar server and there has only been a few Sundays where you didn't serve. You love it. One Sunday, we went to the Latin Mass parish and you cried because you wouldn't be able to serve. You work so hard to serve well and I'm so proud of you every time I see you on the altar. You are an amazing son; always quick to help me. If you see me upset or stressed you naturally come give me a big hug to try and make me feel better. You are a wonderful brother and your sisters all love playing with you. I hope you realize someday how much they look up to you.

Miss Belle, I don't even know how to put into words how much you have changed this year. You are a deep thinker and always striving to be and do better. You are constantly helping me around the house, not because I asked, but because you have the heart of a servant. You will probably never know how much this means to me and helps me until you are a mom yourself, but for now, know that I'm abundantly thankful for it. You love to have a to-do list and to plan and write things. You have the work ethic that many adults still lack. I'm amazed every day to watch you pull out your school on your own and complete tasks without being asked. You love to go to social things and be with friends. This year you struggled with a small attitude problem and I've never seen an eight year old tackle a problem with so much dedication and hard work as you did. At 8 years old you were able to pray about it, talk about it and not let yourself be ruled by your emotions. You taught yourself to change how you acted or what you said, even though you felt like doing something else. It's been incredible and inspiring to watch. I'm so proud of you and proud that you are my daughter.

Jules, you are 5 now and as sweet as ever. You are still a sensitive soul and think big deep thoughts for someone your age. You are so kind to everyone you meet and will often put yourself aside to make someone else happy. You love to give hugs and kisses and tell mommy and daddy how much you love them. I hope you never get tired of that. This is your first year homeschooling and you are doing amazing. You are eager to be doing "big kid" things and often get frustrated with yourself if you can't do something perfectly the first time. You don't like me to help you very much, but like to be independent when you work. Sometimes I call you Snow White because you have such a way with nature. One day you spent two hours catching butterflies in a jar, looking at them and releasing them. I've never seen so many different butterflies caught in one day. You catch other bugs and things all the time, only to be amazed by God's creation and then let it go again. I love watching you grow and hearing all the deep thoughts that flow through your mind. Thank you for loving so unreservedly and with everything you are.

Sarah Cat, I'm mourning the loss of you as the baby. For so long now, you have been the littlest and that's all about to change. You would probably be mad if you knew I called you little, because you are sure you are very big. You have social skills like Peanut, the will of Miss Belle and the sensitive heart of Jules. You never seem to meet a stranger and everyone loves you. You can say something so matter of fact and confidently, but when gently corrected you ball your eyes out as if the world crashed down on you. It's truly fascinating to observe. You are such a light to this family. Peanut and Miss Belle will still hold you like you are 2 and Jules is always trying to get you to play "mom" wherein you are the baby. You are so well loved and such a blessing to this family.

Now is the part where I would normally promise to write more, be more, and try more. But after skimming this blog in all it's years here, I realize that every time I write, it's completely worth it whether it's been a year or a day. Sometimes I let the fact that I haven't written in so long, actually keep me from writing (as weird as that sounds). So, I promise to write when I can and find peace in that.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Things They Say (14)

From the backseat of the car:
#1: "#3 what do you think marriage is all about anyways?"
#3: "Well we kiss on the lips a lot, then I put a ring on him and he puts a ring on me and then...well...what do I need to ask my husband to do?"

A neighborhood boy was interrogating #1 about homeschooling and meanly stated, "Your mom is no better than my teacher!" #1 replied, "Well then your teacher must be pretty great!"

#3: I'm not even going to say the 'S' word! Because I don't know the 'S' word.

#1 Pointing to where his back hurt: "Well...I was shot right there with an air soft gun. Except it was a little higher up and on the other side..."

Saturday, January 20, 2018

3 Years Old for #4

Dear #4,

Today you are three years old. While you are still little, something about three seems so big. I know you are no longer a baby in any way, but turning into a sweet little girl. Your personality shines a little brighter every day. You have both a strong spirit and a very sensitive one. You stand your ground for what you want, but if we say no firmly, you ball your eyes out. Sometimes it's a hard thing to balance. Tonight when we sang you "Happy Birthday" you were smiling in your chair, then suddenly you got up and started running away crying saying, "I don't want this song!!!" You kept running all the way to the hallway with big crocodile tears rolling down your cheeks. I guess being the fourth child, you aren't used to THAT kind of attention. Maybe it was to much for you. It makes for a very cute and funny memory.

 You have an incredible imagination. Anything can turn to pretend play quickly in your world and you are actually really good at playing by yourself. Your bed can be a ship, the coffee table a house and a chair turns into a bus ride. It's incredibly fun to watch you play. Most of the time you like to play with your baby dolls. You carry them all around the house, feeding them, wrapping them up in blankets, kissing them and sometimes putting them in time out. #2 and #3 often play "mom" or "honey" (as you call it) with you. They make you be the newborn baby who cries and needs help with things. As you get bigger, this gets more entertaining to watch as they try and cradle carry your three year old body around like a newborn. You don't seem to mind though, as long as someone is playing with you.

You love #1. You two share some kind of special bond. #1 really needed a sister who thinks the world of him and your love has been such a gift to him. You let him comfort and hold you almost as easily as you let mommy do it. In fact, sometimes you prefer him over me. In the mornings you love to go in his room, climb into bed with him and say, "nuggle me tames". I hope this relationship flourishes and stays as beautiful as it is now as your grow older.

You love to be read to. You are perfectly content to just sit on my lap and listen to stories for long lengths of time. While you are definitely growing more independent, at three years old you are still very attached to me. As long as mommy or daddy is at your side, you are perfectly comfortable talking to complete strangers when we are out. In fact, sometimes I have to stop you from talking when you have gone on and on for a while and we need to go. You love to tell people about your day, say hello and give random compliments. I know you are totally your own person, but in some ways you are a little bit of James, Belle and Jules all combined. Those three love you to death and probably spoil you more than they should. If you are crying, they are all trying to figure out how to make you better. And if you are being goofy, they think the whole world should be watching and laughing too.

You are such a joy to this family and a joy to this world. I am soaking up these moments of your littleness because I know they will not last much longer. I know with everything in me that you will grow to be a bright light in this dark world. I love you Sarah, and am so proud to be your mommy.

Monday, January 8, 2018

10 Years

Ten years ago I did something that everyone thought was crazy. I got married. I hadn't finished college and was a very newly 20 years old. Most people thought we should wait to get married. Wait to finish school. Wait till you have good careers. Wait for more money. Wait till you have traveled. Wait, wait, wait. Looking back it had to have been pure grace that kept me moving towards an altar instead of a diploma. I look back on my 20 year old self and remember how excited I was to start my vocation. I could have never imagined what the last ten years have held. But even back then, I knew marriage would be hard at times, and that no matter how hard it was, marriage was for keeps. Somehow this base understanding, coupled with my naivete regarding exactly how full of life the next decade would be, did me well. I was able to jump headfirst into marriage, without ever looking back.

In the past ten years Max and I have had 4 beautiful babies. Two of these babies came into the world with only the two of us present. We have moved 6 times and lived in 7 different places we called home. We have been up countless times together with sick children. We have spent so many nights talking till midnight trying to solve the world's, and our own, problems. We have said way too many goodbyes to friends we love and made amazing new friends along the way. We have survived my traumatic brain blood clot and the four month recovery afterwards. We have prayed and cried and accepted how that day completely changed how our future might look. We have remodeled a house and learned to raise chickens. We have watched Max's father suffer with cancer and draw his last breath. I have held him in his pain and he has held me in mine. We have seen really dark days where the joy in marriage seems like a thing of the past. We have been blessed with abundant grace to always forgive, never hold grudges and plow through till the sun shines once more. No, I didn't know that life would hold all of this ten years ago, but I know God placed me on the path of His will.

The night before our ten year anniversary I was reflecting on our marriage and something came to my mind. In the entirety of our marriage, Max has never once said an accusatory phrase to me. He has never said, "You're so fill in the blank" or "You always..." Those words have never come out of his mouth unless they are followed by something positive. How many women can say that? I wish I could say this went both ways, but I have sadly accused Max of being very many things in our marriage. Thankfully, he is a very forgiving man.

The last ten years have held life and death and fear and trust. They have held so much pain and so much joy. I couldn't imagine sharing it all with anyone besides Max and I look forward to the next decades we spend together. May God give me the grace to be the wife He calls me to be. And may Max have patience while I try and get there.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

#2 Turns 7

Most days it feels like you are 12, not 7. Yet, when I look back through the years, they have gone by so quickly that I wonder how you are 7 already. This year you have matured beyond belief. Like when you were two, you still prefer me to anyone in the world, but you have grown in confidence and self-knowledge this year and it is amazing to watch. You are still a quiet child. When I take you somewhere by myself, you prefer to sit with your own thoughts rather than carry on a conversation. The things you do talk about are questions you have already mulled over in your mind for quite sometime.

You are a constant help with your two younger sisters. Helping them and teaching them comes so naturally to you. You have made great friends this year and like nothing more than to go play with the neighborhood kids. You actually get frustrated with the few extracurricular activities we do, because you would rather be home playing. You have been working with a friend next door on some gymnastics. What took me three years to accomplish in classes, you have perfected in about five months. You have also started to play the piano and are still enjoying horse back riding. You thrive on positive reinforcement and completely shut down when people get angry or insulting towards you. You love to make people laugh and it has been awesome to watch you learn the best ways to do that (without making potty jokes). You are strong in who you are, but have a sensitive spirit when you feel that someone isn't treating you well. The people you choose to give your heart to, you love with every ounce of your being. 

Every year that goes by I am more impressed by the young lady you are becoming. I am beyond proud of you and feel so blessed to be your mother. I hope that as the years pass, you grow deeper and deeper in love with Christ and that I can help form you into the woman He created you to be. I love you my sweet daughter. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Jules Bug Turns 4

A few weeks ago you turned 4. I am amazed every day at the little sweetness of your soul. You no longer fit in with the babies; you are definitely a "big girl" now. You follow #1 and #2 down to the woods all the time and try and do everything they are doing. When we homeschool, you sit there with a little book and "write" and complain that "this is sooo hard!" When I sit and read with you (which you would do ALL day if I could) your little mind and imagination open up and you are so quick to observe things and learn all you can. Even at this young age I can see that you will have a tendency towards perfectionism. Sometimes you will draw a beautiful picture, but when I tell you how beautiful it is, you will point out a mistake you made that really bothers you. While perfectionism may be a hardship in things like drawing and school, I'm sure it will help you, in some way, become the woman God has created you to be.

You love St. Therese and Mary are constantly offering "little sacrifices". You shock your father and I with your natural tendencies towards God and the greater good. If there is a toy you want that Sarah wants also, you will say, "I guess I'll make a little sacrifice" and let Sarah play with the toy. You often make little sacrifices for your older siblings too. When we pass graveyards you always say we need to pray and sometimes you randomly want to pray for things that "pop" into your head. The random things you tell me sometimes about God and the things you think about are humbling and amazing. One day in mass you leaned over and said, "Mommy, God is everything and we are nothing. That is what I always think about." Another time you told me, "Mommy, all God wants is for us to love him a lot, pray and make little sacrifices. I know that because He taught me that." Saying things like this and thinking about these things comes so naturally for you and I hope that never stops.

You are still the sweet and quiet calmness of this family. While you don't just sit back and take being bullied by the older children, you are much calmer and less easily upset than anyone in the family. We could all learn a lot from you. You are extremely sensitive and can easily cry if I even speak a harsh word to you. You still love to climb up on my lap and cuddle. I hope that doesn't stop anytime soon.

Jules, you bring so much joy to this family it is hard to put into words. I thank God everyday that you are here. I am so blessed and unworthy to be your mother and I'm sorry for all the times I have failed you. My prayer for you is that you always stay as close to Jesus as you are now. I pray that the world doesn't steel your sweet, sensitive spirit and that you grow to be a Godly woman. Thank you for teaching ME how to love Jesus each and everyday. I love you sweet daughter.