This one is short, but I had to write it down before I forgot. The other day Peanut was in a world of his own singing his favorite Christmas song "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". I was listening to his cute voice get louder as the song went on when all of the sudden I heard, "With the Jelly Ghosts proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem!!!" Hahahahaha! I just wish I could see that picture in his head: the child Jesus with a bunch of "Jelly Ghosts" creeping around him. By the way, if you are not too familiar with the song, the real lyrics are, "with Angelic Hosts proclaim..."
Did I mention Peanut turned 5 this month!?!? He is such an amazing young man filled with so much energy and joy. He enjoys nearly every minute of life and is always willing to try new things. When given the option to have a big birthday party with all his friends and a bouncy house to play in, he choose this instead:
He gets some things in life at such an early age. He gets that hanging out on a inflatable kayak with his dad on the lake feeds his soul more than having ten thousand birthday presents from all his friends...
...and that sometimes roasted marshmallows are as good as a birthday cake, because really, a number five candle doesn't hold a flame to a huge campfire (no pun intended):
While he spent most of his free time doing this,
Miss Belle was found doing this. Not even the woods will keep this girl from her purse and babydoll.
And Baby Jules quietly fell into the background of it all, going with the flow as always.
And on our last day right before we left, he caught his first one of these:
And hasn't really stopped talking about it since.
You are an incredible young boy and I am so excited to see the man you become. You are loving every moment of life these days and are always willing to go into the world and explore. You are funny, honest and think about some questions and ideas in life that some thirty year olds don't . You are always trying to be better and love Jesus more, even at your young age. You are a great big brother and an even better son. I am blessed to be your mom. We love you!
The world weighs heavy on my heart these days. With everything going on in the news and seeing people's responses to the world right now, I feel that we are in a huge boiling pot that is about to explode.
I have talked to other stay at home moms with a struggle I deal with often. The struggle to want to do more. To take our children out into the world and convert the nations. I daydream sometimes about standing on a podium like Martin Luther King Jr. and giving a speech that will change hearts and save lives. I look back on the days when I was able teach confirmation, work with Rachel's Vineyard and pray on the sidewalks at the abortion mill. The days when saying the rosary was easy and going to daily mass was a habit. The days when I could lay down at the end of the day and feel good about what I did.
Here is where the voice of Satan comes in to tell me that being a mom isn't enough. That I should still be doing all the things I used to at the cost of raising my children. But the voice of God whispers in my heart, "Being a mom is enough. Raise the future and do it well." As as stay at home mom, we don't always get to reap the benefits of our work at the end of each day. Some days (most days?), I go to bed feeling inadequate for this job and wondering if all the naps, snacks, endless questions and endless mess really matters. I don't think Mother's really reap their rewards until her children are safe with them in heaven, which requires a lot of patience, self-sacrifice and focus on one's vocation.
But how do I get there? How do I raise a future of saints? If my children hear me talk of self-control often, but then see me down a quart of ice cream in one sitting, what is that teaching them? If I try and teach them to be kind to one another, but myself yell at them several times a day, will they trust what I am saying is even important? In parenting, talk is cheap and I do a lot of talking. If I want my kids to be virtuous I must first live these virtues in our home. As a mom, it's really easy to make excuses. Excuses about why I am not being the best mother I could. Excuses about why I lose my temper or can't get anything done. And while it is true that being a stay at home mom to 3 littles is very challenging, most of the excuses I come up with are a result of my laziness or my lack of focus on the goal; namely heaven. It is only when I give my day completely to God and rely solely on his grace to help me be a good mom that I can lay down at the end of the day and be proud of what was accomplished.
I have seen in recent weeks a huge trend in my family. If I am calm and kind, my children are calm and kind (and my husband too). If I am short-tempered, tired and grumpy the kids go nuts and my husband's temper is shortened as well. It is said that the mother is the heart of the family. If the heart is restless the entire body reacts. If the hearts beats slowly, predictably and in the rhythm God created it to, life and peace will flow from it.
I don't want to regret my children's young years. I don't want to look back and wish I had been nicer and wish I had done something differently. Every day matters because every day is a gift from God. I pray for the grace to be the woman and the mother that He created me to be and to live each day to the fullest.
In Oklahoma my kitchen window looked out to a beautiful lush green area at the top of which was a running trail. Whenever I did the dishes I would watch people as they walked (or ran) by, stealing the little free time they had for exercise. It was inspiring and enjoyable. I always assumed that when we moved to New Mexico I would have to give up my nice view and be content looking into someone else's front yard. Little did I know about the park.
Out my kitchen window is a very large green park. It is really a treat to look at when no one is there and I much prefer it to looking straight at someone else's house. I spend an exorbitant amount of time at the kitchen sink and, while people at the park do sometimes exercise, you really wouldn't believe what else I have seen out that window. During the fall, I watch as teenage boys play psycho football (my name for Rugby) and the spring is usually filled with early football practices for the coming year. On Saturdays there is always the martial arts masters along with several women who enjoy studying under the tree. But more often than not, my kitchen window becomes massively entertaining as we watch and laugh at the crazy things people do at the park. A few months ago I saw a high school kid stop at the park and practice, what looked like, some form of martial arts. Some form he made up himself that is. My sister and I watched for a good thirty minutes, almost peeing our pants. The whole ordeal came to a climax when the young man dramatically swung his arms in a full circle ending them in front of his body and flipping off the world. After that, he picked up his bag and went on his merry way.
Then there is the 10 o'clock sweep. Oh the sweep...Every night at 10 o'clock a police car comes and clears the park. A few times a month we hear him come over his loud speaker and speak some mumble jumble we can't understand. At this point my husband usually flies off the couch and opens our front door to see a teenagers (or oddly enough sometimes an adult) sheepishly get out of one car and into another (often times buttoning their pants on the way) and leave the park.
It amazes me how many people think they are in total privacy at the park. Just last week there was a couple who literally made me blush by what they were doing underneath a large tree. When things got too hot and heavy they decided to try and hide behind an even larger tree. I could still see them. Clear as day. At this point I closed my blinds and worked in a semi-dark kitchen. It was just too embarrassing, and I wasn't even the one under the tree!
A few days ago we were driving home from church and I saw out of the corner of my eye three adults sitting and chatting at the park. They looked like they were all wearing the same color of pants which I thought was odd, but I only had a glance. Then Max says, "Hey! Did you just see those three adults sitting in a kiddie pool at the park!??!" Sure enough...three adults in a very small kiddie pool at the park. I could go on and on about the things out my window. From the random hot air balloon practices to the annual "spray elementary kids down with the firetruck day" there is always something interesting to see out my window. Maybe I will make it a regular on this blog. But for now, next time you go to a park, know that if there are houses around people might be home and may be able to see whatever it is you are doing.
...is of course completely changed forever. This post itself is brought to you by my holding sweet #3 on my lap while the other two take a VERY RARE nap. The only reason they are napping today is because we let them stay up till 10pm (that's right bad mama), so they could "camp" with their dad in the den last night.
Baby Jules is a sweet little thing. She hardly fusses and is the easiest baby so far. Jules' crazy birth fits nothing with her calm personality. So what if I have had to give up milk, eggs and wheat in my diet to keep her happy. It's all worth the no cry time we have had with her. I still contest that having your first baby is the hardest. The not knowing what to do and everything being so new almost killed me with Peanut. And while my postpartum period with Jules wasn't the easiest, I knew how to handle her cries and my tears and knew that in a couple of weeks things would start to feel like a new normal. I think we have reached our new normal and I'm in love with it.
Miss Belle turned 3 on Monday. 3! She is as strong willed and sweet as ever. She is always wanting to follow me everywhere and "help" with whatever I'm doing. She loves the new baby and called her "my baby" for quite some times. She does have a lot of difficulty with spacial skills and is always wanting to be in Jules' face. There is no ill intent in it though. Anything she does, whether it's helping in the kitchen, playing with her brother, kissing the baby or just plain loving you, she does it with every ounce of her being. I love this about her. She cannot be forced into anything and likes to discover the world mostly on her own. She loves her brother and will do almost anything he asked. They would get along a whole lot better if they both didn't want to be the boss all the time. I am so excited to see who Miss Belle will become because I am already so excited about who she is today. She is a great light in this world of darkness and I feel that if Max and I do our jobs right, her strong and sweet personality could bring many people to Christ. That is my dream for her; that all her will and strength and being be directed towards God. Miss Belle didn't need an exciting crazy breech birth because she will have an exciting crazy life that I love to watch unfold. Happy Birthday sweet daughter! You are my light and my joy. We love you!
Disclaimer: This is a birth story with all the details. If birth grosses you out, you should probably not read any further.
It was 10:00pm on Thursday February 7th, and Max and I had just finished an episode of Downton Abbey. I had been having some strong braxton-hicks that day, but they were the kind that I thought would surely go away when I went to bed, as they had every other night in the past. I told Max I wanted to go to bed, and as we got ready I started to have some more serious, painful contractions. Max finally caught on and asked, "Are you in labor?" I replied, "Maybe. But probably not. Let's just try and sleep and I'll wake you if I need you."
I laid in bed till about 10:45 before I finally decided these contractions weren't going away and I needed to get up and walk and eat. I got up and went to the kitchen to eat (I was really hungry) and paused and moaned through each contraction. A few minutes later Max heard me moving the couch back in place (we move our couch to our computer to watch movies, it bugged me that it was out of place), and came to check on me. I told him that I was really in labor but he should try and go back to sleep in case we were in for the long haul.
It was around midnight that Max decided we should call our midwife. He told her I was definitely in labor, but that she could wait to come as contractions had only started two hours ago. Meanwhile, my water had broken and contractions were coming stronger. I was thinking to myself how intense the contractions were and how, "maybe I'm just more of a weanie this time than I was with Miss Belle." All this time, Max is trying frantically to set up the birth pool. After breaking our bathroom sink I finally told him that I just wanted him near me and to forget about the pool.
In between each contraction I prayed to Our Lady of Happy Delivery and asked Jesus to be with us. I asked that above all the baby would be safe. In my heart, I knew everything was ok and this was the safest way to deliver the baby. This is a great grace God gave me during labor, because looking back I really could have had a lot of fear about the unknown position of our baby. I also feel it was a great grace that I didn't know she was a footling breech, as I think I may have been more anxious about delivering our baby in this very uncommon position. As I continued to labor in our bathroom, I started to have the urge to push. I told Max that he needed to call our midwife NOW! I tried my hardest to breath through these contractions without pushing, until I couldn't any longer. All the research I had done about breech births said hands and knees was the best way to push and that breech babies should not be touched during delivery. If you touch their little bottoms, it startles them, causing them to throw their arms up thus making it more difficult for the head to come. I knew I should get on my hands and knees, but it was also what my body instinctively told me to do. As the next contraction came I tried my hardest not to push, but just couldn't. I was asking Max the whole time, "Where is our midwife?" thinking I could just hold this baby in till she got there. I told him I was scared and he assured me it would be ok. I was not scared of delivering the baby, I was scared I wouldn't be able to stop pushing until the midwife arrived.
I finally gave into the reality that I couldn't not push and told Max the baby is coming. He was on the phone with my midwife and got behind me to see what was going on. Apparently at this point one of Baby Jules' foot was already out, although I had no idea. With the next two contractions I pushed her to the point where her little butt and legs were hanging from my body but her head and arms were still inside. I told Max not to touch her and he promised he wouldn't. I was so anxious to have her out at this point that I tried to push with no contraction and yelled, "she isn't coming!" As she was hanging there, I could feel her moving her little head and arms still inside me. This is the number one weirdest thing I have ever felt in my life. From the research I had done, I knew that this was common for breech babies. They do a little sit up type action to position their head correctly for birth. A truly amazing instinct! Once I finally realized that the reason she "wasn't coming" was because I wasn't having a contraction, I was able to take a few deep breaths and wait for the next one. As the next contraction started, I pushed with all my might, and out came our little girl into her father's hands.
I told Max to give her to me, and we immediately started rubbing her back and talking to her (she didn't cry right away, but when I looked down at her wide eyes, I knew she was ok). Within seconds she was breathing fine and making those tiny newborn cries. Max hung up with the midwife and we sat there in awe for a few minutes staring at her beauty. After a minute or so, I checked to see what we had and was pretty shocked to see that it was a girl! I think we checked three different times to make sure. So there we were, just the three of us and God, sitting on our bathroom floor admiring the new life that was in our arms.
Our midwife showed up about ten minutes later and found everyone to be perfectly healthy.
This is the birth story of my third child and beautiful daughter. The story really begins far before her birth and I feel that it is important and an intricate part of it. I want to write it down to remember the spiritual journey of this pregnancy and to remember the abundant graces given to my family and me during this time.
This pregnancy tested me to limits I had never been brought to before. First with physical suffering, then with mental. I have already described some of the pelvic issues I had during pregnancy that almost made me lose my ability to walk. I cried out to God in desperation asking him why he would want a mother of two very active children to go through this. I was brought to my knees and to tears daily at having to depend on my husband and those around me for almost everything. And then answers came, through a small book that no one even knows exist. Through weeks of exercise I was nearly pain free and I knew it was nothing short of a miracle that I thanked God every day for.
Fast forward to 32 weeks into the pregnancy. I went to my midwife appointment and what I knew all along was confirmed. The baby was breech. For some this seems to be no big deal, but for me it was. Peanut was also breech and he never turned head down before they took him by c-section at 38 weeks. The memory of that experience came flashing into my head daily as I knew the routine way for breech babies to be delivered these days is by c-section. For those of you who may read this and don't know me very well, a c-section is not a small deal to me and I really only think they are necessary if the mother's or baby's life is in true danger.
For 6 weeks I spent much of the day trying to get the baby to turn head down. I hung upside down on my head, took homeopathic remedies, went swimming and did a headstand in the pool, spent an outrageous amount of money on chiropractic care and acupuncture and still the baby would not turn. Through the weeks I researched constantly about breech birth and finally made the decision that I wouldn't go in for a c-section unless something was wrong with me or the baby (that is what hospitals are for, after all). Before I continue, I think I should note that this decision wasn't made lightly. Every day I questioned it and felt Satan tempting me with doubt. I prayed constantly for peace and fought for it every day. Every time the baby moved I wondered if she was turning, only to find out that I could still feel her little head up in my ribs. I cried out to God telling him that this was His child and His birth and if a c-section was necessary I would do it. But I told Him that my children needed their mother and that was a lot harder to be after a major surgery.
This constant daily mental agony was filled with moments of peace only to be shattered again by thoughts of what could go wrong. I prayed novena after novena and cried out to God asking Him why he didn't just turn her! I am certain the only thing that kept me sane was the constant prayers I knew so so many people were praying for me. Often times when I was at the end of my ropes I heard God whisper in my heart, "I will take care of you". I didn't know at the time what that exactly meant, but I trusted in it.
On one particularly hard day, I thought that looking through my ultrasound pictures might bring me some comfort. Somehow, through the midst of suffering, I sometimes forgot that an actual baby comes at the end of all of this, and needed a small reminder of who was kicking around inside me. But that day, I wasn't even granted that comfort. I could not find the pictures anywhere. A few days later my sister invited me to adoration and I took her up on the offer. I grabbed a random book from my end table and set off for a much needed holy hour. That evening before the blessed Sacrament I told God that I laid it all on his altar. That I knew this wasn't the end of the hard days but whatever happened belonged to Him and I would trust Him for answers. That until I felt my instincts and His urgings tell me otherwise, I would continue forward with the plans for a breech vaginal delivery. As I sat down after my prayer and opened my book to read, I found my sweet ultrasound pictures laying within the pages. I couldn't help but cry at the physical sign that God had given me letting me know that everything would be ok.
Fast forward to 38 weeks pregnancy. As I was driving Peanut to pre-school I was pondering all that had happened during this pregnancy. I knew I would see my midwife that evening and was a bit nervous and relieved. I also knew it was the last day of a novena a dear friend had been saying for me to St. Giana. My friend had promised that the baby would either turn that day, or that I would be at peace about everything (she also said the angels told her she was praying for a baby girl but I didn't believe her). And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I pray often to be a Godly woman. I say all the time, "Lord, mold me into the woman you want me to be. Purify my soul. Transform my heart. Help me be patient. Teach me to love." I pray all these things, and while I truly mean them, it didn't register till that day that through all of this suffering God was purifying my soul. He was answering my prayers. Did I really forget that often times we have to be purified through fire? Did I think it would be easy? Marriage and motherhood are my vocation and God will sanctify my soul through them if I let Him work. I felt great peace the rest of the day. Even when my midwife told me the baby was still breech. And that brings us to the evening of Thursday February 7. Stayed tuned for part 2.
Since people seem to have a life of death opinion on the subject I want to write about, I suppose I should start this post with a disclaimer: this is my opinion and my feelings on the matter. It doesn't mean I don't respect yours if they are different.
This is the first pregnancy we have not found out the sex of the baby before he/she is born. I made a promise to my husband that if we could just find out with Miss Belle, I would wait to find out with our third. And I have. Nearly 37 long weeks. And I don't like it one bit, really. I can't imagine (and I reserve my right to take this back after the birth) that the one moment of finding out the sex of your child, can be worth the 40 weeks of not knowing. It's not because I'm dying to know, or because I want to pull out clothes or am just being impatient. It's because I want to call this baby by name. I want to pray for him/her by name and offer up all these sufferings with a name. This baby is already a boy or a girl and has been since conception, and this whole surprise ending thing seems kind of silly to me. I know they used to do it in the old days, but if one wants to make the argument that we should do things the old fashioned way, then maybe they should start by birthing the old fashioned way. Seems more important to me than finding out the sex or not. But I made a promise to my husband and I'm keeping it.
I remember laboring with Miss Belle and talking to her by name the whole time, telling her we were in this together and knowing that a tiny girl was on her way. A girl I felt like I already knew. I also remember how incredibly overwhelming one feels after having a natural delivery and finding out the sex of the child right at that moment of utter euphoria seems a bit crazy as well. I will be honest in saying I have felt the whole pregnancy that this is boy, but many times people are wrong. So every time I go to say "he" I have to say "or she" and every time I try and picture holding this tiny, I can't fully do it because I feel bad if I picture one sex or the other. The worst is when the baby gets called an "it". Ugh. I wonder how long we will call him/her "the baby" after he/she is born (see how annoying that he/she thing is?!?!).
I know many people love the surprise ending and that's great, but I really don't think it's for me. Surprisingly, at nearly 37 weeks I'm feeling better than I have the entire pregnancy. Thanks be to God. If you are still reading, please continue to pray for a safe and natural delivery of this baby.
I am a Catholic wife and mother of four, striving to grow holier by the day. I have a son and three daughters and am currently homeschooling the oldest two. I am a doula and have a special passion for all things birth related. This blog is my life and thoughts escaping from my head to the computer screen. So pull up a chair and come along for the ride!