Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Ode to An Ornament

For a sentimental, knick-knack loving person like me, ornaments are treasures.  They tell a multitude of stories.  Ornaments' greatest advantage, however, is that they come out once a year.  I don't have to find a place for them on my crowded shelf.  (can you tell we have been purging junk lately?  But I digress.

Last year, I wrote a post about how ornaments tell stories. This year, I wanted to share a few more ornaments.  But one ornament especially relates to the Advent Prayer Buddy effort that the IF bloggers have done every year.  In Christmas 2009, my then-Prayer Buddy, In All Things Good/DC Baby sent me this charming woven ornament from Africa:

Inside, she wrote a prayer (I think it is the Christmas novena?) asking God to grant me a child.  Not only was I thrilled to add the first ornament from the continent of Africa to our tree, the prayer touched me greatly.  You see, 2009 was not on my list of good years.  In fact, on New Year's Eve, I enthusiastically bid farewell to 2009.  The year held many crosses: a death in the family, ending of a job, numerous IF medications with no relief in sight, facing the prospect of losing weight for an adoption, the loss of our pastor... Let's just say hope was in short supply.  I looked at that ornament wondering if there was any hope left.

Turns out, 2010 became a year of hope. A nice amount of pounds melted away (I've since gained them back!).  Just as I neared my adoption goal weight, we found out a baby had miraculously shown up in my belly.  I had an incredible 4th grade class.  A new pastor came to our parish.

And to boot, my prayer buddy also became pregnant in 2010.  In fact, we had our babies within a couple weeks of each other.

Today, this little red basket ornament symbolizes that hope remains in the darkest of places.  Especially when I don't see it.  The ornament will forever have a place on our tree.  I think it will keep me grounded, lest I ever forget the Christmases past.  The ones where my heart ached.  Or (without sounding too dismal), the Christmases in the future that may seem darker: I particularly think of my friend J, whose father was diagnosed with terminal cancer mere weeks ago and will celebrate his last Christmas.

Christmas 2011 is a bright beacon in the Petals home: we gratefully celebrate KB's first year of life and welcome our families from both coasts to celebrate.  Two lovely ladies in the SHE group are celebrating magnificent Christmases as well: after 12 years, has become pregnant; the other sweet friend K will make merry with her 2 twin boys, born earlier this year (her first 3 babies are in heaven).

I keep looking at the ornament on the tree, knowing that with the help of God's grace, the love and support of my husband, family, and friends, I survived a dark year.  Should another dark year come again in the future, I hope that ornament reminds me to find HOPE, because it will always have a special place on our tree.

P.S.  My Advent prayer buddy from last year gave me an exquisite mug plus fragrant coffee beans from these monks.  Their coffee is sanctifyingly awesome!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Singing and Signing "Monks"

As Advent continues to wind down, here's an entertaining rendition of Han.del's Messiah to get you ready for Christmas.  :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

10 Lessons in 1 year

You know you’re behind when your baby turns one and no post shows up on your blog!  Like Always Giving Thanks said, the request of the annual Advent Blogger Prayer Buddies campaign to post more has been a good kick in the pants.  So without further ado…

KB turned 1 on 11/11/11.  Such a cool birthday!  I cannot believe a year has passed.  

The entire day I felt like a Zombie.  Looking at photos of her as a newborn compared to now just overwhelm me: joy at the gift of her life, a twinge of sadness that the baby days have passed so quickly. The metamorphosis from wife to mom has been rather steady. Here are 10 lessons that I learned in the first year. 

    1. Slow down and enjoy. So many of my mom friends and family gave this piece of advice. Seeing how fast this year has gone by, I agree with their advice 100%. IF’s many years of waiting and longing helped me value more greatly the time that I have. Also, there are no guarantees that we will be able to get pregnant or adopt in the future. Even if we do, there will be another child around to take care of and less of those quiet moments. So, I've taken extra time this year for more snuggles, holding, and ignoring some of the experts’ advice. 
      2. I’m glad that I worked part time to finish the school year. I didn’t want to leave my 2 classes mid-year. The experience of working helped me make an informed decision to stay home with KB full time. I was rather apprehensive about it. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I’m climbing the walls. But balancing a part time job, babysitters, and a baby was challenging. It also inspires me to help my friends who work full-time. 
    3. Things don’t always work out the way you planned. Good grief, I learned this in a big way with the IF journey. Even more so with the actual birth (C-Section instead of labor; but it was a great experience and I will probably do it again, Godwilling!), b-feeding, caring for a newborn, etc. 
    4. Babies need nutrition and love, no matter how they get it. I was only able to BF for 9 days. The lactation consultant (a mom of a former student) even came to my house 4 times to help me. KB just wouldn’t nurse. That wasn’t very bonding. We bonded far more when she began bottle feeding full time and her tummy was full. Most people were pretty accepting. However, the negative comments from some people really dismayed me. Many implied that I wouldn’t be able to bond with my baby and thought I was doing a HUGE disservice. Gosh, I hope they don’t say the same thing to adoptive mothers who choose not to breastfeed! And how do you think that makes a new mom feel? As my pediatrician wisely told me, babies need nutrition and love.
5. Video baby monitors. Best invention ever. We have gotten extra sleep because of it. However, don’t let the baby play with the handheld monitor!

6. IF still causes guilty feelings. When KB is exasperating me, sometimes I feel bad for getting annoyed. After all, this was what I wanted for so long, right? 

7. A baby forces a control freak realize that you really don’t have that much control. Need I say more?

8. I understand just a little bit more of God’s unconditional love. And I have more respect for Our Lady, especially thinking of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Can you imagine how hard it would be to know that your baby Son would someday die?

9. “Me Time” and date nights are absolutely essential. They have helped me stay grounded. My husband has been so great about watching KB when I go to Irish Dancing. Although those years of IF waiting were painful, we got lots of great "Me" and "Couple" time. Those memories impel me to keep it going!  I look forward to someday taking KB to dance class with me. 

10. Let the baby bring joy to others. Whether it’s the kind elderly lady at the store or a random customer at Starbucks, I’ve found it worth it to stop and let them.

Well, if you've read this far, congratulations.  Thanks for walking this journey with me in the blogosphere.  I continue to pray for my IF sisters who are still waiting.