Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I think I got gypped in the gene pool. Most women I know seem to have some sort of "nesting gene" that kicks in their last trimester of pregnancy, and I just don't seem to have it. When I was told at 38 weeks that my son had to be taken via c-section that night, I asked the doctor if I had time to go home, build a crib, get a car seat ready and pack my bags. I was dead serious. He, on the other hand, was less than impressed and said I needed to go straight to the hospital (I went home anyways...yes, I wanted my make-up that bad). Now, granted, a c-section is not a natural delivery and maybe I would have started nesting the very next day; but I have a feeling I would have waited till I was in active labor to pack those bags.

Our First Family Photo

Here I sit today, nearly 38 weeks pregnant. That's one week past what doctors consider "full term". I don't expect to go into labor early, but the truth is I could. So what does it look like this time around? My suitcase is empty, our infant car seat is in pieces on my son's floor, my house is a mess and our camera is out of memory and probably needs a new set of batteries. My dear friend asks me every time I see her, "have you packed your bags?" and my answer is always the same, "not yet". My actions, or lack there of, have really made me wonder, why don't I want to pack my bag?

I hate change, and nothing brings more change than adding a whole new person to your family. I remember leaving for the hospital to have my son and taking one last look around my house. As I stood there for one last moment with tears running down my face, I quietly said to myself, "Goodbye house, goodbye life." My husband, full of excitement, couldn't understand why I was crying, or why I was sad on what was going to be the happiest day of our life. But the truth is, goodbyes are always sad for me, and I needed to say goodbye to the life I had with just my husband and me. I knew the moment I walked out that door, I could never ever return to that life.

Moments Before Delivery of My Son

I love my life now, and I know I will love it when my sweet daughter arrives. But until then, I am trying to savor every moment I have with our family of three. I have spent every day of the last 18 months of my life caring for, playing with, and enjoying my son. It has, for the most part, been just him and me through the great days and the hard ones. But that will all change soon, and it went so so fast. And maybe if I don't pack those bags, I can hold on for just a moment longer before it's gone forever. I have been praying these last few days as I watch my son play, or I toss a ball back and forth with him, "God, just let me have this moment. Imprint it in my mind so I'll always remember this part of my life and how wonderful and short it was. Don't let me take this for granted."

 My husband and son reading together.

In a few weeks (or maybe even days) my entire life will change for the better. I will get used to a new life and new tiny, beautiful person around. Our sweet daughter will fit right in, and we won't be able to imagine life without her. Our loving Father allows this to happen by nature (whether you have a nesting gene or not) and I am so thankful for it. But until the day she arrives, I will savior every moment of life as I know it now.

Monday, March 29, 2010

There's Still Time

I used to be a Lenten ninja. I went to daily mass, increased my prayer life, and gave up the hardest things I could think of. These last few years I have been a Lenten weenie. I always look forward to the Church's rich seasons and the spiritual growth they will bring. I start out on Ash Wednesday ready to sleep on a rock and eat nothing but bread and water. Usually I am true to my fast until...ohhh...the Monday after Ash Wednesday. And then temptation comes and I give in. "Oh, it's just a bite of ice cream. You have been doing so well sacrificing this far." Or, "Well, Saturday is almost Sunday, and Sunday is a day of rest, so it's probably ok to break my fast." And by Easter I realize I have not had a very fruitful or sacrificial Lent and I feel terrible. I spent my time in the desert giving in to Satan's lies and temptations instead of with Christ telling him to back off.

Any other year I would have come to holy week and called it good enough. I would tell myself Lent was over and it was no use sacrificing my prescribed things because I had failed so many times in the past. But not this Lent. There is still Holy Week. And even if I say yes to Christ this one week out of the Lenten season, it is one week I am saying no to Satan. This week I will try my hardest to be a Lenten ninja and sacrifice the little pleasures in life that I have been indulging in these past thirty something days. I know these things that I set out to give up on Ash Wednesday are only things that take up a place in my heart where Christ should be. But there is still time to let him in...and I know He is waiting.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Let The Questions Begin

At my last midwife appointment I was asked the question every woman gets asked at the end of her pregnancy: "What kind of birth control are you going to use after this baby is born?" I despise this question. It grates on my every nerve. Doctors today present it as if there is no other option besides going on birth control after having a baby. And to top it all off, they ask it at every appointment from 36 weeks on and then 15 different times while you are in the hospital (this is no exageration). My answer is always they same, "We don't use birth control, we use Natural Family Planning." Doctors and midwives usually seem satisfied with this answer, but I am not.

I hate the fact that Natural Family Planning (which is not the "rhythm" method BTW) is grouped into the contraception category. True, some people use NFP as a contraception, but this is not the way it is supposed to be used. It is meant to be used to avoid pregnancy if, and only if, the couple has a moral, valid reason set by the church to avoid pregnancy, such as financially not being able to take care of another child or endangerment to the mother's health etc. Why is it automatically assumed in today's society that a woman has to get on birth control the second she gives birth? I understand women need time to heal and get used to this new life, but nature knows that and usually gives many months before a woman is even able to get pregnant again. Why can't doctors present the question as an option rather than a fact? I have never been asked, "are you going to use birth control", or "would you like to hear about birth control options", it's always "what kind of birth control are you going to use?" When I was about to have an emergency c-section with my son, I was asked 3 different times if I wanted my tubes tied during the procedure. Umm...excuse me?!? Not only was I only in my early 20's with my FIRST child, but I had just been told that my baby might die if we didn't do this quickly and that I was going to be cut open. Do you think I really could have made a good judgement at that time about having my tubes tied?!

I guess all these questions are just another testimony to the anti-life society we live in today. Which is why I need a better answer to these questions that are asked of me. I don't want to answer with, "I'm Catholic, I don't use birth control", because I don't want it to seem that the only reason I don't use birth control is because I'm Catholic. I do agree with the Church's teaching on the subject, but I believe Catholics and non-Catholics shouldn't use birth control for many many reasons I will post on another day. But for now, I need prayers and guidance as to how to respond to this common questions in an effective and charitable way. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Offer It Up

Growing up Catholic this was a phrase I heard all the time: "just offer it up." It came out of my mother's sweet mouth every time something wasn't going my way. Whether it was not getting the candy bar in the store I really wanted, or having to do something I really didn't want to do, this was my mother's advice. I used to think it was just her way of getting me to do things I didn't want to, or to use magic "Catholic guilt" to get me to stop complaining. As a child I didn't even really understand what she meant by this statement. I simply did what she said and told God that I was "offering it up" and said a short prayer in my head. But as the years have gone by and troubles have come my way, I am so thankful to be raised in a faith wherein I have been taught that my sufferings are worth something.

"Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church." Col. 1:24

These past two weeks I have been battling a sore throat, double ear infection, and stuffy head. It's been one of those illnesses where you do one simple thing like run to the grocery store and you are completely wiped out. Top that off with being nine months pregnant and chasing a toddler around. Needless to say, there has been a lot of suffering. As I stated in this post, I believe when things get too hard God will send a Simon. Well, things did get too hard, and my Simon came in the form of my mother and sister. I think that, had they not been able to come help out these past two weeks, I could have become very seriously ill. I am so thankful to God for their company and compassion during this rough time. 

Even with the help, there was still much suffering to be offered to God. I kept wondering the whole time I was sick what I would have done had I not been blessed with growing up in the Catholic faith. I probably would have sat around all day feeling sorry for myself and wondering why God cursed me with such afflictions. But instead, I was able to "fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions..." For my family, for myself, for sinners everywhere. I'm not saying it was/is easy or that I'm some saint who enjoys suffering; I'm simply saying I am thankful that our loving God does not let us suffer for nothing. We are all going to suffer in some way at some time. Why not do something with it?  How much greater would this world be if we would all offer our daily sufferings "for the sake of his body, which is the church"?  

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Sweet Baby Cow...I Mean Daughter

Naming a child is a very difficult thing to do. First you have to agree with your husband (which in itself can take months of arguing). Then, at least in our family, you have to make sure there is some saint out there in which the child will be named after. And to top things off, you have to make sure your child won't be teased for the rest of their life because of a name you gave them. It's a big task, and one I really don't enjoy all that much.

I'm a firm believer that, if you let Him, God picks the name of the child and you just have to be open to His will. I think if you pray about it, and seek options, a child's name will just kind of come to you. This has been true in both my pregnancies. My son has a very common, classic name which I never have to worry about anyone mispronouncing or misspelling. My daughter...well that's a different story. I think she has a cow's name. Yes, that's right, a cow. It's no insult to her, it's a beautiful name; the name just tends to be used a lot for female cows. This was confirmed today as I was reading various blogs and came to a farmer lady's blog who was speaking so highly of her cow that shared my sweet daughter's name. The name also tends to have about a billion nicknames you can make out of it, all of which are cute, but could also be used in a teasing manner.

I'm not sure why God chose this name for my daughter, but I know it is hers and I'm not going to change it. I love it. Even if she will share it with a bunch of cows. My husband's name happens to be the number 1 dog name in America. Now I have a dog's name, a classic name, me of course, and a cow's name. Sounds like a happy family right?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Clean-Up on Aisle 12

It's Saturday morning and my husband and I decide to be cost efficient and buy all of our non-perishable items in bulk. This means a days outing to Sam's with a long list of shopping. As we walk through the aisles, my husband takes notice of a sample table with protein bars and grabs one for himself. Me, being the brilliant mother I am, think that my son might like a protein bar, and grab a piece for him from the nice man at the table. I hand it to him, and we are off to the soap aisle.

As I try to determine whether I should switch from Dawn to Palmolive for the convenience of buying it in bulk, I see my husband jump five feet back from the cart as if it were on fire. And then I hear a loud splash; puke everywhere. Apparently, I'm not too brilliant and you really shouldn't give a 17 month old a protein bar. At least not my 17 month old. My husband and I turn and look at each other, stand there for a few seconds in complete silence and then start laughing an "oh crap" kind of laugh. I send him off to the bathroom for some paper towels as I try to divert people from stepping in my son's mess. Sam's is a big store, and I have to divert a good number of people before I see my husband coming back. As he walks quickly towards me, with nothing in his hands, he yells, "their completely paperless in the bathrooms!" Darn green people. He then looks in our basket at the massive amount of toilet paper we have bought with a look like he has come up with some brilliant idea. I quickly shake my head. My husband then suggests I go find a bulk package of paper towels and we can just use them and then buy the whole package. Brilliant.

I leave the cart and smelly, puked filled aisle and begin my quest for paper towels. I must have a look of distress on my face, because a man stops and asks if I need help. I quickly state that I need some paper towels to clean the mess my son made in the soap aisle. He grabs his walky talky and announces, "CLEAN UP ON AISLE TWELVE!" Oh gosh, I'm that woman. The one with the puky kid maintenance has to come for. How did I get here? As I blush and thank him I hurry back to the cart. My husband and I decide he will grab the last few things while I take our son to the car to get cleaned up.

Almost every single person I pass gives me a funny look as I walk by them. I want to tell them, "Yes, I know how to carry my own child. But you try carrying a squirmy toddler with puke all over him with an eight and a half month pregnant belly! It's not easy!" To top off this already exciting day, I get to the parking lot and can't find the car. This is just icing on the cake. I walk extremely awkwardly with my son down three different rows, and climb into the safety and privacy of our car.

I'm sure there are many, many, many more moments like this in the very near future as our family continues to grow. I am just so thankful to have an awesome husband who laughs at them with me instead of freaking out and getting upset. Thank you husband, I love you! But next time, let's just get maintenance right away.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fruit and Peanut Butter Surprise

My son is a terrible eater. I'm not just talking about the general "my toddler doesn't eat his vegetables" kind of kid either. I have never really been able to find a food he enjoys, and even if he seems to like a food, he only takes a few bites and will have no more. I see other mothers place their children in their high chair, put food on the tray, and the child eats it. No questions asked. As simple as this sounds, this sight always amazes me. When I place my child in his high chair to eat, he generally looks at the food, takes a few bites, and wants no more to do with it. For a period of time, he was actually throwing up what he did eat, making feedings twice as much work and twice as long as they already were. This is how he has been with solid food since the day we introduced it to him; a general disinterest in it all together.

To top off his bad eating habits, he also has (but is finally starting to grow out of) a milk protein allergy. Anything dairy makes him puke, gassy, and altogether sick. All this together leaves a tiny boy with a very small appetite who doesn't gain weight and has virtually no ways of getting access fat into him because he can't have milk. This also leaves a VERY tired and frustrated mother. We have even recently been going to a GI specialist to make sure there is nothing physically wrong with the boy. I think the frustrations of a child who doesn't eat can only be understood by someone who has been there and done that (mom?).

Through this very long process of trying to figure out something my son will eat, I have come across one saving grace. A good friend of ours calls it "fruit and peanut butter surprise." It is basically a mixture of oatmeal, strawberry banana baby food, and peanut butter. I have been feeding it to my son every morning and every night for about the last 4 months, and it has kept his weight "on the charts." Peanut butter has been my saving grace to get some fat on this kid. I have made this mush meal so many times, I don't think I'll ever eat peanut butter again. Smelling it every morning and evening through months of pregnancy nausea has deteriorated my love for the stuff.

So for four months now, I have set my child in his high chair, grabbed something for him to play with, and watched him open his mouth time and time again to eat his fruit and peanut butter surprise. Now the doctor is telling us it is time for him to learn to eat with no distractions. No more toys on the high chair, or songs to sing to distract him from what he is actually doing. I thought my son really enjoyed fruit and peanut butter surprise because he ate it so well. Come to find out, after two days with no toys on the high chair, we are back to square one. And I think I'm done. As I fought my child this morning trying to get something in his stomach before Mass, my patience was gone and all the frustration was back. I'm not going back to that point. The point where every feeding is a fight. No, I think for the next few days we will say goodbye to fruit and peanut butter surprise and see how well my son fares with feeding himself every meal. My husband says he won't starve himself. I'm not too sure about that.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Attitude Is Everything

My mother (a very wise woman) always told me that your children know when you are annoyed with them. The more annoyed you become, the more clingy and fussy they become. At the time she told me this, I didn't think much of it. But lately it has been on my mind almost every day.

Our lives are very busy these days. My husband is bogged down at work and has recently started his masters which takes him away from home two nights out of the week. When he is home, there is always a paper to be written or a test to be studied for. What does this leave? A lot of alone time for me and my son. Recently, I have been catching myself having a very annoyed attitude towards the poor boy. I had given up going to him in times of discipline and instead resorted to shouting across the room. Instead of spending time playing with him, I spent time doing things around the house, acting as if he were my side job. I ignored his attempts to communicate with me (which for him comes in the form of sign language plus an "eh" noise) until it was convenient for me to respond. And he reacted. My mostly sweet boy was fussy, whiny, and started throwing tantrums when I told him no. He was becoming the kid I promised myself I would never have. You know, the one in the grocery store who throws himself on the floor while the parent yells at them to get up. I could chalk this up to "terrible toddler hood" but I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would never do that. So what was the problem? Me.

I woke up before the rest of my family one morning and started reflecting on my attitude towards my son and on my wise mother's words. I decided that morning that I would not be a lazy parent that day. I would use a kind (but firm) voice instead of yelling, I would go to him when he needed discipline instead of shouting across the room, and I would respond to his attempts at communication when he made them, not when I was done with the dishes. And guess what? He was my sweet boy again. This has not been a permanent fix to my mommy attitude problems, and I assure you I fail every day. But I have to get back up, apologize to the Father for treating his little one like he is the most annoying person on earth, and ask for the grace to love my son as he does. I have to remind myself daily that this is my vocation, not a side job. And if that doesn't seem to do the trick, there is always a little attitude adjustment.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Colored Socks

My in-laws recently visited. One great thing about them visiting is my mother in-law's incredible ability to fold our laundry while she is here (I hate folding laundry). She folds as well as a machine would...perfect creases every time! Anyways, while she was folding laundry one day she was digging through the basket, struggling to find one of my blue cow socks to match the one she held in her hand. She then looked up and said in a very kind voice, "may I suggest something to you as your family continues to grow?" Red Alert. This is always an interesting way to start a conversation with one's mother in-law. "Sure", I responded. "Maybe in the future you should only buy one color of socks, that way they are easier and faster to fold." I thought about the concept of all white socks in my basket for a moment and nodded my head saying, "yeah, that's a really good idea."

The day went on as normal, but I couldn't get the stupid sock comment out of my mind. Why was this bugging me so bad?

The life of a stay at home mom is, in most cases, extremely routine and sometimes a little mundane. I am not saying that being a stay at home mom isn't awesome, or that I don't find tremendous joy in seeing my son grow, I'm just saying it is routine to the max! How routine, you ask? I wake up every morning to the sound of my son fussing in his crib. I get him up, get him something to drink, and lay in bed for about thirty minutes. I feed him breakfast, say goodbye to my husband, play around for about an hour and then put him down for his morning nap. While he is napping I take a shower and clean up a little (ok so maybe I get on facebook instead of clean). He wakes up, we have a snack, my husband comes home for lunch, I run errands if needed, come home, put him down for an afternoon nap and take a nap myself. My son wakes up, my husband gets home, then it's time for dinner, some more playing, bath and bedtime. EVERY single day. No weekends, no sick days, and no paid vacation. On a side note, I have actually gotten to the point where I love going to the doctor's office (weird I know), just for the mere change in my day.

Where was I? Oh yeah, routine. So after much contemplation about the sock comment, I finally came to the determination that I need colored socks in my life. The thought of all this routine plus putting on the same white socks every day, could be my breaking point. I actually enjoy picking out a matching pair of socks for my outfit each day, as silly and small as that may sound. The fact that I have green penguin socks on when it's not even Christmas season even makes me feel a little rebellious! Do the socks make the routine of my life go away? No, the routine is still there, but maybe routine isn't as bad as it may sound or feel sometimes.

I feel that, especially during this Lenten season, Christ has been trying to press something on my heart and it is this: God is found in the ordinary. I have to stop looking for him in the extravagant things in life, and find him in the every day tasks. This may seem like a simple concept, but applying it to my life is much more difficult. I feel like a little girl playing hide and seek with her dad in the backyard. As my dad is "hiding" (very obviously so) behind a tiny bush much to small to cover his large body, I am running around the yard looking in the most obscure places shouting, "Daaaaddy where are youuuu??? Come out where I can see you!" He peers over the bush with tender loving eyes thinking, "Sweet Andrea, I'm right here! Just turn around and open your eyes!"

This is what I'm trying to work on this Lenten season. Opening my eyes and finding Christ in doing the dishes, changing the diapers, and taking care of my family. Surely Christ himself knew routine as a carpenter with St. Joseph for the first 30 years of his life. Was his work, even though it was probably generally the same every day, not pleasing to his Father? It had to have been, and I take comfort in the fact that mine can be too. But I'm keeping the socks.