Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thankful on this Thoughtful Thursday

Normally, Thoughtful Thursday is reserved for a profound or even pithy quote.  No such luck today, sorry!  I am immensely grateful for the kind and encouraging comments on my last post.  And TCIE had a great point: wouldn't it be neat to see Jesus as a toddler?  :)  Thanks for reading and encouraging me on the journey.

Toddlerhood is still challenging, but I'm finally learning a few things here and there.  And perhaps my last post didn't highlight the excitement, interaction, and discovery that this age brings.  Amid the tantrums and other difficult moments, the squeals of joy at a new activity make up for them.

Call Me Mama (hmm, sounds like a pop song parody? :) ) asked if I had read any books on toddlerhood.  So far, our go-to book for everything has been Toddler 411, which doesn't just cover discipline but also medical and emotional issues.  I also have been reading The Happiest Toddler on the Block, a follow-up to The Happiest Baby on the Block, which we used when KB was a little baby.

So far, The Happiest Toddler on the Block has some neat guiding principles when it comes to dealing with little ones.  I sort of prefer that to minute, nit-picky details.  After all, each child is different!

Today I came across this article on Faith and Family Live.  It discusses how parents may thrive at different stages of their children's lives.  Talk about a relief!  It's easy to feel guilty sometimes when a stage of childhood isn't fun or doesn't come natural.  And sometimes I have felt like a high school freshman trying to navigate the first day of school.  But considering I was never around a lot of babies (unlike my husband, who was 13 when his little sister was born), at least I've survived so far!!! :)

A couple weeks ago I had to take KB with me to Irish Dance class while my husband went to a funeral visitation.  I was surprised to see KB try to follow me and mimic some of the movement (not the footwork! It's complicated!).  She smiled and giggled too.  I danced with her in utero up until the 8th month of pregnancy, so hopefully some kind of love for dance got passed on to her!!

And speaking of things that get passed on to kids, check out my little girl at St.arbux.  She stole my stole my smoothie!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The blogging Gap and the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

"Have you seen my Mommy's blog? I think it disappeared!"

Ah, the gap in posts has become ever wider. What started out as a brief blogging break in the summer stretched further than I wanted. Well, today follows the feast day of one of my favorite saints, St. Therese of Liseux, and therefore great day to begin again.

First, let me start with the good. This summer my husband and I went away for our anniversary and hosted numerous friends and family at our house. We also watched in great joy as 2 IF friends adopted baby girls. Longtime readers of this blog (if there are any of you left!) might remember Blood Test Buddy, my faithful companion during our many rounds of blood tests for our NaPro doctor. Blood Test Buddy gave birth to a baby girl (after 6 years of trying) on my birthday!! What an awesome gift. I celebrated a low-key 35th birthday as well.

But then came some bad. My husband’s company laid off almost 600 workers at the end of August. Thankfully his job is safe for now, but it was a very terrifying time. He also had to watch several of his talented coworkers lose their jobs.

Right around this time, my support system started to crumble. Our dear friends at our parish who have been like a mentor family decided to attend another parish…and fall out of touch (the exception was blogger friend K, who helped me on a couple difficult nights!). Close friends who were normally available became busy (rightfully so) with new babies. Other friends just kind of forgot. And might I add, with the loss of Gymb.oree, I lost the companionship of moms with kids the same age. These days, I seem to end up at events with parents who have cute, cuddly babies (who don't say "NO") who end up gaping in horror at the antics of my toddler.

And the UGLY. My sweet little girl’s entrance into the Terrible Twos has started early. There are many reasons why this was so jarring: I have never spent much time around toddlers before (I only teach Grade 2 or above); KB had been a very laid-back, docile baby; being at home makes things harder.

And to boot, I've been very embarrassed to blog about this turmoil. After all, this blog began as an INFERTILITY blog. Having a child was something I desperately wanted. In addition, I have the opportunity to stay at home with her full time, knowing that several friends would give anything to do the same but can’t. (Note: I respect working moms who support their families! It is their decision and they do not deserve to be condemned).

After a while, I did think more about the issue. We all know friends or family members who have pursued careers in medicine, teaching, or law, which require years of preparation. Such professionals often have bad days, but it doesn’t cause us to admonish them mockingly, “but THIS is what you wanted!” The voice inside my head often says that to me, after a long day of chasing a toddler who throws a tantrum at the word “no.” Some days are better than others, of course. Thankfully, talking to a good amount of mothers (including my own mom and mother-in-law) affirmed that toddlerhood is both an exciting and challenging time. That I wasn’t the only one who got very little out of Sunday Mass because most of it was spent wrestling. Or that tantrums (especially public ones) were normal but required consistency. “Do you remember some of your most difficult students?” asked my mom. “Just imagine how they were as toddlers!” Talk about incentive!

What has changed a bit, however, are my coping tactics. We switched our gym membership to the local Y as its kids’ club is fantastic. Even if all I can muster is 30 minutes on the elliptical, that still gives me about an hour of “me time” and KB an hour of play in the kids’ club. We've also started “take a break Sundays” when we attend another parish once a month who offers a nursery during Mass. It’s nice to have a chance to concentrate on Mass. My husband has been wonderful about shooing me out of the house when I've had a long day at home. He will take one look at my tired face and tell me to go to Sta.rbucks. J I’m also going to check out a local Mom’s group at a neighboring parish.

I hope some of my words make sense. As I've often stated on this blog, IF has many effects that stay with you for a long time. And toddlerhood REALLY surprised me after a smooth babyhood. And who knows what adventures lie in store for us. Right now, I’m trying to take one day and one prayer at a time.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Quick Takes Friday: Is it August Already Edition

1.  My friend K sent me this blog post about God and heartbreak.  Since I'm still working through some miscarriage grief, the words really gave me insight.  I hope it will help you too. Part I and Part II.

2.  I thought once the Mass was over, sorrow of the loss of our baby would be lessened.  Instead, it has shown up in random places.  Back in March we ran into a mutual friend at the OB office (did this ever happen to you for an IF ultrasound?).  She was there to find out the gender of her baby.  We were there to find out if we even had a baby.  Fast forward to July; she gave birth to her baby last week and for some reason it really bothered me.  Not in a jealous, "how dare you" way, but a wave of sadness.

3.  Thankfully, K assured me such feelings are normal.  I was about ready to call the men in white coats to get me.  She also told me something rather logical, but nonetheless profound: Grief has no timetable.

4.  We had a wonderful anniversary weekend last week.  KB did great with my inlaws and we enjoyed just relaxing.  On Sunday we rented a small fishing boat and rode around the lake.  We almost had to call for help when I went swimming but couldn't get back into the boat that was sans ladder.  Thankfully, I eventually got up there!

5.  KB has been getting into musical instruments lately.  We always let her play the piano (she kinda looks bluesy in this picture), but she's also taken to the toy drum and xylophone.  My husband and I are very musical, so we hope this trend continues.  OK, we hope the interest in music continues.  We're not sure if we want a percussionist in the family this early.

6.  To end the Quick Takes on a lighter note, Word On Fire has a fun post about potential players on the Vatican's Olympic team. :)  I just love watching the Olympics, don't you?

Happy Friday!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Marriage Meme in place of quick takes

Happy Friday, Blogosphere. In lieu of Quick Takes this week, I have a fun marriage meme that was copied from other esteemed bloggers who did the same on their anniversaries.  My husband and I will celebrate 6 years of marriage this Sunday. (!) Time flies. 

1. Where/how did you meet: We met on (then called in the Spring of 2002.  We met in person for the first time in October of that same year. 

2. How long have you known each other: 10 years…wow!

3. How long after you met did you start dating: Because our relationship started on the internet, we were friends for a few months.  We made it official on New Years’ Eve 2002

4. How long did you date before you were engaged: about 2.5 years.  I was definitely sweating those last 6 months, wondering if he would ever pop the question!

5. How long was your engagement: 11 months

6. How long have you been married: 6 years

7. What is your anniversary: July 29

8. How many people came to your wedding reception: 150

9. What kind of cake did you serve: Typical tiered wedding cake; every layer was chocolate or vanilla.  We didn’t want any fruity filling!

10. Where was your wedding: We had a beautiful Nuptial Mass at St. Mary’s, Sacra.mento.  Our reception was held at a nearby hotel.

11. What did you serve for your meal: It was a buffet.  I barely got to eat anything, so any memories would be based on the taste-testing the previous December. 

12. How many people were there in your bridal party: 5 bridesmaids, 4 groomsmen.  My husband’s brother, a priest, concelebrated the Mass.

13. Are you still friends with them all: yes, although I keep in closer contact with the bridesmaids.

14. Did you or your spouse cry during the ceremony?  He got a bit teary-eyed when he saw me walk down the aisle.  I teared up here and there, especially when my dad and brother played “The Wedding Song.”
15. Most special moment of your wedding day: So many family and friends came from far away to attend the wedding.  That touched me the most!  Other than that, the entire Nuptial Mass was so moving.  :)

16. Any funny moments: Before walking down the aisle, I discovered my veil wasn’t over my face yet.  A bridesmaid had to hastily help me.  Then my dad said, “Oh yeah, I was supposed to ask if you were really sure about this.  I can tell you are!”  I had to throw the bouquet twice at the reception.  The first time it hit the ceiling.

17. Any big disasters: I forgot to leave directions to the reception, so a few out of town guests got lost en route. Also, my husband and I agreed to exchange cards instead of gifts.  I was so busy catching up with friends who arrived the night before that I forgot to write a card.  That caused an awkward moment on the way to the reception. 

18. Where did you go on your honeymoon: Rome and Venice.  Our priest got us “Sposa Novelli” tickets to the papal audience too!

19. How long where you gone: 14 days

20. If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change: I would have let my husband see me before the wedding and get our photos done more quickly.  And somehow made sure we got to eat more food than we actually did!  I also should have gotten a spray tan!

21. What side of the bed do you sleep on: the right (closest to the door and bathroom)

22. What size is your bed: King

23. Greatest strength as a couple: We’re best friends.  Because the first part of our relationship was long distance, we talk easily to one another (assuming tiredness or a bad day are not involved!).

24. Greatest challenge as a couple: Surviving infertility and our recent miscarriage.  Also, keeping open the lines of communication.

25. Who literally pays the bills: my husband.  He likes math.  He keeps me in the loop. Sometimes he has to help me with basic calculations.

26. What is your song: We like different types of music, so if there is one I could pick that describes us as a couple, it’s “I Will Be There” by Steven Curtis Chapman.

27. What did you dance your first dance to: “You Raise Me Up” by Jos.h Gr.oban.  We even did a choreographed dance (ballroom dance lessons) and my husband forgot most of the moves when we started! We still had fun.

28. Describe your wedding dress: it was the third one I tried on at the store!  White with spaghetti straps, a sweeping roching to the side, beautiful beading at the top.

29. What kind of flowers did you have at your wedding: a lot of roses in honor of St. Therese, the Little Flower.  My cousin also added touches of blue flowers to compliment the white and pink roses.

30. Are your wedding bands engraved? Nope.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

First Time Away

For the first time in almost 20 months, my husband and I will go away for the weekend without our little girl.  By ourselves.  Really.  I wish our destination was this lovely SoCal train station, but finances have kept us on our side of the country.  :)

Our 6th (!) anniversary will occur on Sunday, and we feel it's time to get away by ourselves.  We're both rather hesitant about spending 2 nights away from KB, but see the big picture.  Now that we work hard on a daily basis to raise a toddler who has become very VERY independent, our energy is depleted faster.  It's easy to let simple things such as reading, talking, etc. go by the wayside and veg in front of the TV night after night.  We decided that now is the time to reconnect and relax by ourselves and return as a happier, refreshed couple!  Not that we're sad or resentful of KB in our lives; we just need to recharge.  I'm sure that first night we will search the cabin for the baby monitor by force of habit. We purposefully picked a cabin at a nearby lake.  Plenty of time for reading, relaxing, going to Mass by ourselves, and (I hope) kayaking.

I think getaways like this are very important.  When we went through our own IF journey, getaways helped me relax and take my mind off TTC and life's everyday tasks at home.  Now that we are finally parents and navigating the arduous TTC process again, I hope the downtime will help me regain proper perspective (this past week there were a TON of pregnancy announcements).  I think KB, who will be in the capable hands of my wonderful in-laws, will become even cuter while we're gone.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Quick Takes Friday: Thunder Edition

Welcome to this edition of Quick Takes, which comes on the heels of a massive storm that hit our area.  But that was not as cool as this blogger's 1/2 rain, 1/2 dry yard. 

1.  Major congrats are in order to this lovely blogger, whose second son will arrive at her home very soon!!  Adoption is AWESOME!  Grace In My Heart has been such an inspiration to me, both as a mom and one who has waited on the Lord.

2.  This past weekend, KB and I met up with my 8th grade teacher who flew to our state for a conference.  My teacher taught me so much, spiritually and academically.  She even traveled to my wedding six years ago and brought up the gifts at our Nuptial Mass.  It's not often that one has an opportunity to verbally appreciate a mentor from childhood.

3.  Another visitor from the West Coast came as well: Fr. Blaise, who officiated at our wedding six years ago.  Our home was among the many stops of his motorcycle ride through the Midwest before heading back to California.  Not only did he get to meet Katie Beth (who tried out his motor cycle and didn't like it too much), he also offered Mass in our home (!).  We enjoyed catching up on life and trying to convince him to stay longer next time.

Vroom, Vroom!  Hmmm, riding a motorcycle with a baby doll is probably not a good idea.

4.  Last week I posted an article from the Word on Fire Blog about a priest who learned many lessons from surgery.  Here is part two of his excellent series. 

5.  Slowly, ever so slowly, I am attempting to reach my goal of losing 10% of my starting weight since embarking on Wei.ght W.atchers in February.  My hope is to become more healthy, but also prepare my body for a possible future pregnancy.  Just a few pounds to go, but too many treats to avoid, such as this highly addictive item from a restaurant that happens to have a very good kids' menu:

I KNOW you put crack in these cookies,!  No one can resist the gooey goodness!

6.  Once again, we are looking forward to hosting Joy Beyond the Cross and her family this weekend.  I hope it is the first of many future in-person blogger meet ups!  My husband now identifies various blogger friends by their blog names, and he'll often ask if I've met them in person.  He's starting to learn some of your names. :) 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Quick Takes Friday: Friday the 13th Edition (Ooooh, Scary!)

1.  It's Friday the 13th!  Big deal.  God is way above superstition!  Check out His handiwork in last night's sunset.  My i.pod camera didn't do it justice...

2.  I recently read an incredible article about suffering.  The priest who wrote it brought out many good points, along with acknowledging that some of the "why does this happen?" questions will never be answered.

3.  After story time at our local library, KB and I perused the shelves.  OK, what that really means is that I rapidly pushed the stroller to look at books on my eye level while trying to keep her from pulling stuff off the shelves.  The most interesting book we found was this galactic publication: 

(I wonder what kind of research went into this cookbook!)

4.  KB has become quite the climber.  Already she has escaped the confines of her crib and Pack.N.Play; she can climb up and down on ALL the beds in the house; and even climb into a chair at the kitchen table.  All it takes is for Mom to turn her head for 0.1 seconds.  Earlier this week she figured out how to walk on a piece of play equipment like a balance beam.  Is it time to think about the Olympics? 

5.  In late June, I assured my husband that July would be a relatively quiet month.  In fact, I secretly lamented the absence of an extended vacation.  As luck would have it, we have awesome visitors coming to town in the next couple weeks.  THREE of them are longtime friends of MINE.  Most of the people who fit that category live on the West Coast.  Tonight I'm having dinner with my 8th grade teacher.  On Sunday, the priest who officiated our wedding is staying at our house.  On Monday, a longtime friend and his family will be in my home city.  Such an influx of longtime friends is very rare since I live in the Midwest.  Yea!

And to add more wonderfullness, a Wisconsin blogger and her family will be staying at our house the following weekend!! I have not met any of the IF bloggers in person yet, so I'm very excited to hang out with Marie and the B family.

Yep, July isn't as quiet. I kinda like it that way.

6. For NFP awareness week, my husband and I are going to give a short testimony at the end of our Sunday Mass.  It will be a bit nerve wracking, but we hope that more people will become aware of NFP's benefits.  Already we determined it would NOT be a good idea to bring KB with us up to the ambo/lectern.  We had visions of her grabbing the microphone...

7.  Finally, a wonderful friend in Nebraska sent this comic. I think of all of my Southern friends, especially Sew, who would appreciate this.  Happy Friday!

For more Quick Takes, go here!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Quick Takes: Extra EXTRA Crispy Edition

1. Need I say more?  This summer weather has been sort of deja vu for me.  Growing up in California, we often had triple digit heat along with water restrictions.  The sight of brown grass along Interstate 5 was commonplace.  When I moved to the Midwest, rainstorms in the summertime utterly scandalized me...until I realized they calm the air and water the grass.  I could tell that an evolution in my weather outlook has taken place: yesterday, a severe thunderstorm warning filled me with glee.  (it never rained...darn it!0

The hot weather makes it difficult to take KB to normal fun activities (park, arboretum, playground, etc.) so we're going to the same places.

2. KB has become quite the independent 20-month-old (!).  She has learned to say "no" (and mean it) and knock our hands away when my husband or I try to help her. We're definitely entering a new phase of parenting.  I ride a roller coaster of emotions on a daily basis: awe at her progress, fear of her climbing expertise, annoyance that she won't let me help her with some things, anger when whining and tantrums reach the boiling point...Quite a ride indeed.

3.  I think All You Who Hope's most recent post addresses so much of my feelings with our possible secondary infertility.  She reminds us to look at the gifts God has given us now.  I definitely need to do this, as even now I look wistfully and jealously at pregnant women who are around the same size I would have been had Rachel lived.

4.  Every week I listen to Fr. Robert Barron, the founder of Word On Fire and the mastermind behind the Catholicism series.  He records a podcast homily for the coming Sunday.  Since we don't always get a deep, meaty homily at our parish, Fr. Barron's homilies fill in the void.  Some of his homilies are so profound, I have to listen to them twice! This week's homily is a real gem, as it address suffering.

5.  See this lovely jar?  It may have an innocent sounding title.  In reality, every spoonful of this cookie butter is like cr.ack!  It's so addictive!  Not even my best of diet intentions can resist!

6.  Speaking of the diet front, I have now lost 20lbs (praise God!).  I'm hoping to make it 30 by September, but we'll see.  Carrying around a 24-lbs toddler is a good reminder of how my body feels carrying extra weight. :(

7. To end the week on a funny note, I couldn't resist the Mup.pets' spoof on the Hun.ger 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Quick Takes: Extra Crispy Edition

1.  Yowzer! A heat wave has hit most of the Midwest and beyond.  Thankfully, KB and I have been going to our local Y almost every afternoon to swim in the blissfully cool water.  My mom wisely suggested equipping my little fish with a floatie, as she delights in scurrying in and out of the pool.  I'm getting a workout chasing after her!  However, KB is becoming more comfortable in the water, which has been my goal all along.

2.  We had a delightful two-week visit with my parents.  It was so difficult to see them go, as I had gotten used to the normalcy of their presence and extra hands to help with KB!  However, the one thing that extreme distance from family does is force us to work hard at staying in touch instead of becoming complacent. 

3.  During my parents' visit, we went to an indoor garden/conservatory that hosted an annual butterfly show.  One area of the conservatory is completely sealed off so the butterflies can fly freely.  I particularly enjoyed getting a closer look at the enchanting Butt.erfly.

4.  The Cathedral in my diocese recently opened its newly built perpetual adoration chapel.  The architecture and decor are simply stunning and add so much to the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  Talk about a peaceful and gorgeous prayer atmosphere.  Blood Test Buddy's brother designed it too. :)  

5.  To better aid in keeping in touch with family and taking more photos, I bought the new iPod Touch thanks to a Mothers' Day gift.  It has a camera and camcorder to capture more of KB's moments.  To help me keep track of the iPod and protect it from a certain toddler's hands, I bought a hot pink cover now dubbed "the Pin.k Pan.ther."  Not only can the device send photos instantly, I can also Fa.ce or with my parents and siblings as long as I'm on a wireless network. 

6.  In the always "enthralling" cycle department, we have just finished our 4th cycle of HCG.  No luck yet. :( We have about one or two months left of HCG, and then another visit to the NaPro doctor will be in order. 

7. has finally opened in my city!  Yea!  Yes, that makes Quick Takes news in my world.  With the recent arrival of, having more of my favorite West Coast chains have brought a taste of home to my area.  I'm sure many ex-Californians came to the grand opening today.  I often meet them at the mall's Se.e's Can.dies display at Christmas.  

Stay cool out there and eat lots of ice cream! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blogging Break and Family Time

Sorry for the long break, all. Every June my folks come out for their annual visit. This household has enjoyed almost 2 blissful weeks of visiting, playing with/chasing KB, date nights, swim lessons, wagon rides, and my getting to do errands by myself. Once things calm down, posts will resume as normal. 

When your family lives thousands of miles away, visits are precious and sacred. :) 

Happy Friday!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Quick Takes Friday

1.  Before I get into the promised "lighter" posts, I wanted to share 2 recent articles on the blogosphere.  What makes them unique is that the authors are both guys and the topic covers infertility.  My brother wrote this post reflecting on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary relating to IF.  A doctor of theology at Notre Dame penned this post about his experiences with IF.

2.  A family of cardinals has moved to our yard.  They are my favorite birds; I never saw them until moving to the Midwest.  The male cardinal's red plumed feathers are particularly attractive.  I've named the dad Carlos the Cardinal (yeah, I love alliteration).  He often feeds food to his chicks. I try to leave bread for them, but often the chipmunks or blackbirds get it.

3.  Some friends and I made a spiritual bouquet for a friend going through a rough time.  Some blogger friends offered prayers too; thank you!  Here's how the bouquet turned out:

4.  I've become a Pinterest addict!  Yikes!  One of the many benefits has been the discovery of new recipes.  Of all the ones tried in my kitchen so far, this recipe for crock pot chicken tacos is my favorite.  Three ingredients plus a slow cooker equals my kind of recipe!! If you try this recipe, be sure to use frozen chicken  (not thawed! it will dry out!) and LOW SODIUM taco seasoning. 

5.  This past weekend we went to Nebraska for the baptism of our godson.  I have 3 college friends (hi, Marisa) and 2 former youth group teens who live there.  We had such fun catching up with friends and seeing the NE countryside.  The weather was hot and humid, as my bushy hair can attest.  I even discovered a delectable new drink: the Carmelicious Latte by Scoo.ters Coffee.   

6.  KB did great on the plane ride to NE.  She's becoming quite the traveler.  As the only child in a family with half of its relatives on the West Coast, she has to learn to tolerate airplanes by necessity.  We even discovered that Chicago O'Hare has an indoor children's play area.  That sure made the layover better, if not relaxing.  Maybe I won't loathe that airport as much as in the past.

7.  Since February, I have lost 16.5 lbs.  It's made quite a difference in my health and wardrobe.  :)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Remembering Rachel

Two days after we lost Rachel, 3 prayer cards with this image arrived in the mail.  Talk about a welcome sign from heaven:

Following the advice found in After Miscarriage, I put together an album to commemorate Rachel's little life.  Since we lost her so early and have nothing like a grave, hospital bracelet, etc. to put in a memory box, the album suffices.  I inserted all of the cards and notes we received from family and friends, as well as significant dates (positive test, etc.), and the listing of Rachel's memorial Mass from our parish bulletin.  The album will always help us remember Rachel's brief life, and hopefully KB and (hopefully) future siblings to know their sister in heaven.

This past Saturday we had a small memorial Mass for Rachel at our parish.  To our pleasant surprise, many of our friends and family came to the morning Mass (yeah, 8:15 am on a Saturday morning isn't always fun!).  On the West Coast, my brother, sister-in-law, and parents went to a morning Mass there to commemorate Rachel.  Our pastor kindly incorporated prayers from a funeral for a miscarried baby.  He even talked about Rachel in his homily.  The petitions also prayed for couples still waiting for a baby and those who had lost children.

To add even more Providence/wonder, the deacon present at Mass was there to commemorate his daughter, who was murdered in May 1999.  The Mass was supposed to have taken place the previous Monday, but he and his wife forgot and ended up at our Mass.  So there we were, remembering two daughters in heaven.  WOW. 

My friend K, who came to the Mass with her family, penned a touching post recounting the Mass and why we take the time to remember babies who have gone to heaven.  I'm so glad that I read her post without any mascara on. :)

My husband and I feel so blessed to have family and good friends who have consoled us during our ordeal and shown such love!  And thanks to the kind souls in the blogosphere who have been praying for us too. 

P.S.  With the last 3 rather heavy posts, a lighter side post is definitely in order!  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Next Step

Wow.  I was so touched at the comments in my previous post.  Karen has indeed written an incredible book, and I'm elated to see it touched other readers too.

I've had this post floating in my head for a couple weeks, but could never get to the computer to actually compose it.  And as always, life gets in the way too.  How's that for slacking?

Rachel's memorial Mass will take place this Saturday morning.  I'm looking forward to it but also dreading the emotions that may come up.  Thanks to my friend K, we found a special Blessing for Parents Who Have Just Suffered a Miscarriage that my pastor will pray over us at the end of Mass.  Several family and friends have promised to attend the Mass; I am humbled at their willingness to remember Rachel's brief life.

Lately there have been several friends who have announced pregnancies.  I'm very happy for them, but that all familiar twinge of "why can't that be me?" returned with a vengeance.  The especially hard ones are the friends/acquaintances whose babies will come in November, when Rachel would have been born.  Thankfully, a dear friend of mine assured me these feelings are normal. She herself still mourns her miscarried babies from 15 years ago.

A lot of people have asked us (to quote the song from the musical E.vita), "So what happens now?"  Both my OB and NaPro physicians suggested waiting out the miscarriage cycle (similar to a post partum cycle) plus one regular cycle before we can TTC again.  Most critical is giving my body a full cycle to absorb the HCG and stabilize my hormones.

I'm also attempting to lose weight, as my baby weight from the first pregnancy never really came off.  This program has helped me a great deal.  Additionally, we credit my weight loss in 2010 (to meet an adoption BMI requirement) with playing a role in conceiving KB.  Besides, if I'm able to get pregnant again, I want to start with as few pounds as possible.

In any case, we will not assume anything and try to trust in God's plan.  Easier said than done!

KB turned 18 months last week; we can scarcely fathom she is halfway to 2!  Apparently, neither can she:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

After Miscarriage: a worthwhile read

Another post, another post gap.  Normally I would observe such a chasm with self-deprecating humor or excuses.  However, small waves of grief have unexpectedly come forth as the miscarriage aftermath fades away.  Added to that was witnessing our neighbors mourn the death of their 20-year-old daughter in a car accident two weeks ago.  She would have survived had she worn a seat belt.  I will never forget the face of the grieving mother, looking imploringly at KB as we left her house, who said, "Promise me you will always wear your seat belt."  Through teary eyes I assured her that we will always remind KB (it's a non-negotiable anyway).

I wrote the previous post thinking the miscarriage grief had passed.  To my great surprise, I was mistaken.  Without warning, waves of sadness came out of nowhere: a movie with a newborn baby, looking at newborn baby clothes, realizing that we wouldn't have a baby in November...these little things just added up. Thankfully, a couple girlfriends who have had miscarriages assured me my feelings were normal.  No need to call in the men in the white coats! Ha.

As Providence would have it, a recently published book has helped me tremendously: it's called After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman's Companion to Healing and Hope.
Karen Edmisten's book strikes a very good balance for grieving mothers: she doesn't dwell on the sorrow to the point of despair, yet she also doesn't linger on the "your baby is in heaven" to the point of forced giddyness.  A very difficult balance to obtain.  My grief feels very raw, very real.  Through Karen's stories (she endured 5 miscarriages) and the stories shared by others (moms, a father, a single mom...) I find affirmation in my grief yet also some hope to which to hold fast. The book also offers practical advice about burying the remains, holding a memorial Mass, grieving, etc. 

I'm a huge fan of my Kind.le, but this book works best in its natural, hard copy form.  The pages need  highlighting and folded corners.  I hope to purchase copies for some priest friends of mine, so they have an idea of what to say to a couple after miscarriage or a failed adoption. 

The passage that struck me the most: 

"And eventually a picture came to my mind.  I was weeping, and Jesus approached me, held me, a bloody, wounded hand on my hair, a strong arm around me.  He said that he would not tell me why but that he knew  what I felt."

I can very much relate to that image, and I think it also relates to the struggle with infertility/miscarriage.  Wanting something/someone good.  Watching pregnant teens who didn't want to be pregnant.  Surrounded by families.  Walking by the baby clothes, knowing what you had hoped will be there in 9 months will not.

Jesus will not tell us why, but He will comfort us.  And many times, His comfort comes in the forms of family, friends, bloggers, a kind word, cupcakes, or a book published at exactly the right time. 

By the way, after all of these heavy posts, a lighter one is in order. Stay tuned.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Padded Anvils and Prayer Buddy Reveal

Padded anvils? Huh?  Yep, it's another random metaphor courtesy of me.  Bear with me.  And for those of you young whippersnappers who did not grow up with Lo.oney Tu.nes, anvils often fell randomly from the sky onto unsuspecting characters.

I am still very touched at the kind comments, support, and prayers in response to our miscarriage.  Thank you, blogosphere, for the virtual hugs.  Our friends and family have stepped forward to pray and support us as well.  Two friends even left cupcakes on my doorstep! Our mantle is full of cards from friends, assuring prayers and support.

So what about the padded anvil?  Well, as the cliche goes, "Stuff" happens (insert your own moniker for "stuff") to all of us.  Many times the painful situation, illness, IF, etc. just falls out of the sky.  Our miscarriage felt like that: out of nowhere, exciting news turned to immense sorrow. And those two weeks of doctor appointments, ultrasounds, and most horrendous of all, not knowing if our baby was alive or dead, felt like one BIG random anvil.  And we felt rather crushed.

Frequently people will say, "all I can do is pray."  Well, I can attest that prayer made a huge difference.  I have found the prayers and support of family and friends have padded this anvil, lessening its blow.  Yes, the sorrow was ever present, but it did not destroy us.  Surprisingly, I have not been angry at God, unlike in calamities past, just very sad.  Many coincidences (Divine Providence) happened too.  And every card, text, email, comment, cupcake (oh, so delicious!), helped us go on further.

Without the prayers and kindness of our loved ones, our anvil would have hit much harder.  I'm grateful that the news accidentally got out on fa.cebook instead of me staying silent.  Thanks especially to those of you who have prayed for us behind the scenes.

For Lenten Prayer Buddies, I prayed for J at Growing the Garcia Family. I enjoyed reading her "small successes" posts!  My prayer buddy was none other than K of All You Who Hope.  Her prayers and support touched me deeply, particularly as hers was the first IF blog I read during my IF journey.

My friend K sent me a profound reflection on miscarriage as well as blessing of a couple who has just endured one.  We may try to have this blessing said at Rachel's memorial Mass next month.

Be blessed as the season of Easter continues. :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

One More Soul in Heaven

By far, this post will be the most gut-wrenching one I have ever written.  However, I have learned so much from other bloggers' sorrow and struggles through such posts, so perhaps the same will happen.  In the past few days, I have become more comfortable telling the world of our ordeal. 

In the middle of March, I had a positive pregnancy test.  My NaPro doctor put me on progesterone immediately, just like my previous pregnancy.  I took a blood test 3 days later.  Surprise and joy turned to sorrow when my doctor called to tell me I would miscarry very soon.  His voice on the phone was sad, yet compassionate.

My husband and I wanted closure, not wanting to wait for bleeding.  The NaPro doctor gave me a timeline for which to watch for bleeding, then to follow up with my OB.  For the next 2 weeks, I had four blood tests (mostly for HCG) and two ultrasounds.  My OB, who herself has biological and adopted children, compassionately tried to look for a miracle.  Both ultrasounds yielded no clear picture or heartbeat.  We found out towards the end of our ordeal that she also was concerned about an ec.topic pregnancy.  Thankfully, that's not a possibility:  not long after my last ultrasound, I started to bleed.  My OB is still monitoring me via blood tests (oh yeah, my favorite) to make sure the HCG numbers drop.

So we experienced the heartbreak that many bloggers and friends have tread before us: several appointments that started in an OB waiting room, looking at pregnant women (not that I was jealous, just knowing what could have been).  Going to the ultrasound, knowing the outcome would be good.  Waiting in the tiny patient room, wondering about outcomes and frustrated when answers weren't clear right away.  And of course, the constant question: WHY?

Once our situation became clear, I posted a prayer request in a girls' prayer group on Facebook.  Little did I know that my petition would post to other's news feeds.  So the word got out fast...and it was surprisingly liberating.  We have literally been surrounded in prayer as the days unfold. I've especially needed it, as chasing a 16-month-old while processing grief is not the easiest task. 

We decided to name our baby, to help us have closure.   My friend Kerri, who herself has three children in heaven, penned a profound post about why we name our miscarried children (thanks for saving me the work of explaining it too!) My miscarriage also coincided with Kerri's first miscarriage 4 years ago.  Her boldness in speaking and writing about her children and heaven has really inspired me. For some reason, my husband and I both felt our baby was a girl.  Even though she lived in my womb for a few weeks, she is a little soul in heaven. She is still a person!  

Our little saint's name is: Rachel Philomena.

My husband felt drawn to the name Rachel (she's depicted in the above sculpture).  It reminded him of Jeremiah 31:15:
"Thus says the LORD:  In Ramah is heard the sound of sobbing, bitter weeping! Rachel mourns for her children, she refuses to be consoled for her children—they are no more!"

I picked the name Philomena, which means "full of light."  St. Philom.ena was a young girl martyred in Roman times at age 13 (according to legend).  She is credited with interceding for many, many miracles.

As deep and heartbreaking as this sorrowful path has been, I am grateful to have suffered this miscarriage after our daughter was born.  She's a great distraction!  However, the biggest reason is that I tend towards pessimism and would not have reacted well to this during infertility.  Our miscarriage experience has helped us feel solidarity with two dear friends who recently suffered failed adoptions.

We plan to have a Mass to remember Rachel's brief life.  Thanks to fellow coffee lover Chasing Joy, I found out about the Church of the Holy Innocents, which has a shrine dedicated to children who died in the womb.  Parents can send in the names of their children to be inscribed in the "book of life."  

I'm grateful that we do not have to bear this heavy cross alone. 

Please feel free to ask my Rachel to pray for your intentions.  :)