Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Dream

Okay, before I go further I just wanted to recognize that this story will probably sound crazy to a lot of people.  Maybe it's just a happy coincidence or maybe it's just a random stroke of luck; how you read this will depend on your personal beliefs, but it's my crazy story and I've been waiting 9 months to tell it.

St. Gianna Molla is a favorite saint of mine.  She was a working mother, a career woman, a woman who married a little later in life and a woman who seemed to be able to devote herself to whatever was being asked of her at any given point of her life whether it was her medical studies, her involvement in church groups or eventually her marriage and motherhood.

Anyone who knows a bit about her life knows that she is best known for giving her life to save that of her unborn daughter.  After her death she was basically put on the fast track to be recognized a saint and since then has been known in Catholic circles for her intercession on behalf of women trying to conceive or faced with complicated pregnancies.  She's definitely a woman to whom I feel I can relate.

Last year, at the suggestion of a woman I met a conference, I asked my husband to take me to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadeloupe (another Saint known for her intercession on behalf of mothers) in La Crosse, Wisconsin because they kept a relic of St. Gianna's there along with having a memorial space for babies lost in pregnancy.  I needed a little spiritual healing and it was a lovely trip.

But, afterwards no miracles seemed to happen.

A few months later St. Gianna came into my life again when a friend visited some of her relics and gave me a rosary that was a third class relic of hers.  It was a wonderful, thoughtful thing, but once again after a few months ... no miracles.

In October of last year we visited the Shrine in Wisconsin one more time as a more of a rest stop on our way up to Minnesota.  Our third encounter with something of St. Gianna's that year, but by this point I had kind of stopped expecting anything miraculous.  In fact, we had just had another early miscarriage a month earlier and I was still healing mentally and emotionally from that.

Now comes the crazy part.

Two weeks after we got home from that trip I woke straight up from a deep sleep.  I usually don't have super vivid dreams, so this was strange.  It was one of the clearest dreams I can remember having.

I dreamt that I was in a car, an older car - it had it's top down and couldn't have been made later than the 1950's (though I'm no car expert).  I was in the backseat and in the front seat were two people - a man driving and a woman in the passenger seat.  The wind was blowing in our hair and we were laughing and having a great time driving around the curvy hilly roads.  We were all dressed in shades of white, and I remember thinking we must be dressed for some kind of festival or celebration.

This man and woman were some of the happiest people I've ever seen - joy just seemed to radiate from them and we continued to drive around.  They seemed to know where we were going and we continued up a long winding road up the side of a hill.  We were definitely on a mission on this drive, there was somewhere my driver knew we had to go.

When we got to the top of the hill there was one ragged, wind swept tree that capped it and next to the tree was a little table set with a plate and cup and behind the table was a man, also dressed in white.  I remember getting out of the car with my fellow passengers and walking to this man.  At some point I looked behind me and the couple from the car were behind me, still beaming those wonderful smiles, linked arm in arm and still motioning for me to go forward.  I looked again at the man behind the table who reached out, took my hand, looked me square in the eyes and said just one thing, "It's time."

And that's when I woke up.

And I knew without a doubt who had been my companions in that car, it was as clear as day.  I had gone on a car-ride through the Italian countryside to this hilltop alter with none other than Gianna and her husband Pietro.  They took me to a man who was both familiar and vague at the same time who had a message for me, "It's time."




Less than two weeks later I was staring at a positive pregnancy test, the one that would turn out to be our Rainbow baby.  Looking back at the calendar and my charts she most likely came into existence within 24 hours of that dream.

People have asked me over the last 9 months if I was nervous or scared; after all we had lost some many pregnancies how could I rest easy this time around.  Sure, I had my moments of worry and doubt, but underneath it I just knew everything was going to be fine.  That dream always popped into my head when I started to doubt or worry, and that man's voice would repeat "It's time." and I would remember those smiling faces and calm would wash over me.

Now perhaps it was all just a happy coincidence, but to me it will always be something a little bit more, a little bit mysterious and a little bit special.  Thank you to that smiling couple for taking me on that journey and being so happy for us; that dream, whatever it was, brought me 9 months of peace and comfort.




Sunday, July 17, 2016

I'm Struggling With Breastfeeding

There I said it.

I'm struggling with breastfeeding, big time.

It's not just the actual act of breastfeeding I'm struggling with either - it's everything this act is dredging up in me.  Lots of insecurities and second-guessing my own fortitude and motives.
I know it's not easy and I know we've run into some snags that have complicated matters.

I know I'm not the only woman in history to have a sleepy, tongue tied baby or cracked, bleeding nipples or weak supply.  I'm not the only woman in history who has needed to find alternate ways to feed her child.

Our bodies aren't perfect and mine definitely isn't.

I'm not ready to give up, though my bag of tricks is getting low, but I am ready to give in.

I'm ready to give in to Providence on this one.

I'm ready to keep trying my best, and push myself not to go when the going gets rough, but I am ready to give this issue to God.

So here it is.  God, I'm trusting you on this one.

I'm going to trust you that if the best thing for my daughter is to nurse, you'll help us get there.

I'm going to trust you that if the best thing for my daughter is to drink breastmilk from a bottle, you'll help me keep that supply up.

I'm going to trust you that if the best thing for my daughter is drink formula, you'll protect her and she'll grow up as secure, attached, healthy and smart as her brother did.

I'm going to trust you to help me get over my own insecurities, my own selfish desires and my own doubts to do exactly what she needs of me.

Tomorrow is our 2 week check up.  She's doing great so far and we already know that she's gained back her weight, so unless something comes up that requires me to keep setting these alarms and tracking every milliliter I'm going to give it up to you.  After tomorrow I will keep doing what I'm doing for as long as it works, but my goals are these - a healthy baby girl, who can eat whatever she needs from whatever source she prefers with a mother who is able to enjoy her incredible precious gifts of children and focus on bonding and thriving as a family.  If we figure out nursing, it will be Providence that gets us there.  If we keep pumping for months, it will be Providence that gets us there.  If those two things don't work or dry up, Providence will give me the confidence I had with my son to fearlessly, and shamelessly use formula.

I need to give this to God tonight, all my struggles, all my worries of judgement, all my fears of making the wrong choice or subconsciously sabotaging this whole endeavor - I need to give it up and give it away.  I need to trust that my family is in good hands, and much bigger hands than my own.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Here



Just activating this old thing for a little while to share our happiness.  Miss Helena Mary joined us on July 1st and 10:38 in the morning, about a week before her due date:


7 lbs 7 oz
20.5 inches long

She's such a joy even though she's definitely teaching me new lessons about "best laid" plans.  At her 37 week check up we discovered she was frank breech.  After weighing the pros and cons (which get a bit complicated when you've had a previous c-section) we decided to bring her into this world a day after her 39 week mark via a planned repeat c-section as opposed to the VBAC we had been preparing for.  It was an exciting and stressful couple of weeks.  She's currently teaching more even more lessons about best laid plans when it comes to feeding.

To be honest, nothing up to this point in my motherhood journey has gone as planned and it seems to be sticking the course and that is a big reasons why I felt the overwhelming urge to shut down the blog at least for awhile.

There is a strong current in mothering right now about being "natural", having beautiful experiences that go exactly as planned and while those experiences might be challenging in their own right they're held in such high regard it's hard to be an outlier.

It's really hard to be someone who's body doesn't work quite right.  Who runs into walls time and time again when it comes to all the things that are supposed to "come naturally" and the underlying message of these current beliefs is that when things don't go naturally, they're not quite good enough.

Of course most people aren't intentionally cruel about it, but after awhile you start to feel like that token friend.  "Oh," they can say, "of course I support x, y and z.... because I have this friend."  But to be that friend is hard when you keep getting the feeling like you're being patronized with every decision because it's not quite right, it's not quite the best thing you probably could be doing if you'd just try a little harder.  To feel that most people are looking at you more as a way to practice being "charitable" instead of being truly supportive.... it gets hard to muster up that courage to face.

It's not about guilt.  So many people will jump to that conclusion.  "Well," they'll say, "if you're feeling bad about this you're probably feeling guilty about the choice you made."  They'll suggest, very subtly that you probably knew better and took the easy road.  It's not guilt and it's not shame; I can proudly state what a relief and how wonderful my c-section deliveries were.  I can proudly tell you just how much I love to bottlefeed whether it's the breastmilk I'm currently working hard to provide or formula.  I can proudly tell you how much my job gives to my family.  It's not shame or guilt; it's just the constant feeling that no matter what you do you can't do enough and you can't do it right when you're just trying to do the best you can.  I've never had a lot of confidence to whether that feeling of constant judgement, and it just gets harder when every time you here someone say "We know you know what's best" you sincerely doubt just how much they mean it or just how much of it comes from pity.

I got tired of being tossed around like this, of being the "other" in this world that is so adamant about what is right, what is best.  I'm not sure if I'll be back here, but I also felt like I owed an explanation and wanted for a little bit too reactivate to make some other posts accessible again.

So she is here, finally, finally here; a beautiful, wonderful, thankful here.  And I'm here; a struggling, sensitive, outlying here.  We're here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Deep Thoughts

Is there such a thing as the introspective part of pregnancy?  If not there should be; that's where I've felt like I'm at for the last few weeks.  I've noticed the definite dip in energy as I officially enter the 3rd tri so I guess it makes sense that I need something to do while not feeling like doing much.

Sadly it's that time of year when I feel like I should be doing a lot - it's my favorite time of year when I normally get outside a lot more, tackle big projects, etc. and honestly I can't help but beat myself up a little bit for all the things not getting done right now out of habit.  Oh how I want to be touching up the paint on the front step and weeding my garden beds and tackling the never-ending project that is our mudroom.

Instead, I've been spending a lot of time just sitting in front of this screen feeling a bit useless and watching all the creatures that feed at my growing array of birdfeeders.  We've even taken to giving them names:  thanks to my son we have Bob-Dude, Squirrel-Dude and Bird-Dude the Squirrels (you can tell them apart from the bushiness of their tails, plus Bob-Dude is a bit of bully and our resident acrobat), there are Martha and Herbert our neighborhoods Cardinals and the Capulets and Montagues - the chickadees and sparrows, respectively, who fight over the seed feeders.

Bob-Dude, above and Bird-Dude, below.

Squirrel-Dude snuck in while Bob-Due was foraging in the garden.

Do you bite your thumb at me,sir?

Herbert, checking out the marketplace for Martha to make sure those Montagues aren't causing a scene.
I haven't done the dishes since this weekend, but at least the wildlife is named.  (as I've been typing this I spotted my first House Finch... now to think of more names)

This last weekend we went out of town; driving up to Minnesota to support one of Ben's cousins as he received his Eagle Scout award.  There are five Eagle Scouts among Ben's cousins, Ben included and I'm quite proud of them.  There were, I think, 15 Eagle Scouts in attendance at this ceremony, all the ES cousins and then some which was quite a sight.

Listening to all the things this particular young man has accomplished just in his earlier teenage years really sent my mind spinning.  Not only about realizing how much my "me time" is about to go up in smoke after this coming year, but also about that age old question of how many activities and other stuff is good.  I have no doubt this family was very busy over the last few  years and a part of me says "But what about dinner, and time to just relax, etc." like we've been hearing constantly over the last few years, but part of me is so impressed at what has been accomplished - the places seen and the things done - and looking back at my own high school years I feel like I see more time wasted by not being so involved with skills not learned and opportunities not taken.  And of course, since it's me, I feel the urge to have this all figured out before kindergarten starts in the fall.... silly me.  But it's definitely given me some food for thought,

Today though, today is for making some to do lists, and doing some dishes and putting away some laundry and figuring out what I'm teaching at RE tonight and all that fun stuff that does not require as much thought, but needs to get done.
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