Monday, May 27, 2013


Just a quick note to say I'm going to be on hiatus for a few days while I help my hubby pack up the uhaul and enjoy his company.

After six weeks without him, I am soooooooo appreciating him. It's amazing the energy you save when your husband can carry the toddler up three flights of stairs, no problem. What's more amazing is how nicely things run when the family is in order. God's ways are the best ways.

I'll be back after he leaves at the end of the week. My prayers and love to you all.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I don't usually permit myself to envision heaven. I don't allow myself to think about what it will be like, or who will be there, or what my experience might be in heaven.

It's partly because the concept of heaven, though I believe it is as real as real can be, is too vast for me to grasp in my mind. It's partly because I don't want to presume something so beautiful, so True, so perfect, can be pictured in the human mind. And it's mostly because I am completely okay with the fact that heaven is a mystery, and I don't need to know what it is like while I'm still at work here on earth.

But sometimes I suddenly have an image in my mind that is heaven. Sometimes it's a sound. And I'm not talking about going to the symphony, and hearing heavenly music, or seeing a beautiful piece of art, and feeling as if "oh, that is heaven!"

These insights are completely unexpected, unprovoked, and unusual. And it usually has nothing to do with any of man's accomplishments (works of art, music, etc.) Rather, these glimpses, when they have happened, have come to me in the middle of the night and they are intensely personal. That is, I don't see heaven on a broad scale, I only see the Lord in some way that is specifically applicable to me.

Now, I'm not claiming to be able to see heaven, or that the Lord has granted me any special visions or anything. I just mean that sometimes I think the Lord allows glimpses of eternity as a sign of His Glory. And I think that, particularly for people who are actively carrying a cross--those trying to carry it in unity with Him--these visions of His glory are such graces, such consolations in the midst of darkness.

The night before our viability ultrasound for this baby, when we were 7 weeks and 3 days along, I was in such agony thinking about the possibility that this baby would also be dead, that I would lose another child. My anxiety was through the roof. I couldn't sleep. I was tossing and turning, trying not to wake my husband, trying to make myself calm down and go to sleep. I prayed and prayed for peace, out of trust in the Lord, knowing that whatever happened the next morning, He would carry me through it. But I was exhausted with worry.

And then, I heard--not imagined, not thought in my head, I heard, "I love you mamma." And suddenly it was like I wasn't experiencing the next minute with my senses. I didn't hear, feel, or see anything. All I felt was Peace. I had heard Romeo Gerard tell me that he loved me, and in so hearing, I knew that he knew how much I love him, how much I miss him, how much I felt like I failed him, that I had done everything I could, that I could never forget him, that he knew he was my son.

Then, as suddenly as it had happened, I came back to my senses, and burst into tears. Was I crazy? Had I imagined the whole thing? Was I being superstitious? Does this kind of thing happen to ordinary people like me?

The thing is, I know it was real. I can't deny it. I might sound completely nutso, but I know the Lord granted me that consolation out of mercy, out of kindness, and most of all for His Glory. Because He knows how much I need to trust in Him, how I need to know how close He is to my heart. And He knows that it is to His Glory that such a consolation is a testament.

Nevertheless, He is so wise. Let it not go unnoticed that He didn't grant me such consolations when I was in the thick of desolation--when I was crying out to Him for a miracle, when I was begging Him to console me in my grief, when I was desperate to know He was there. No, this consolation came after volta. It came when I had already decided to trust in Him, even though it was painful. It came when I had already given my fiat, really and truly.

To be clear, I am not saying that I earned this consolation in any way, by trusting Him or otherwise. What I am saying is that He knew not to grant me such a consolation when I was close to despairing, because it was crucial that I trust in Him in the midst of darkness, when I could see no light, no comfort on the horizon. It was critical that I die to myself, even in the worst pain of my life, to learn to love Him while I was mourning such a loss, to learn (in my small human way) that agape that He, Himself demonstrated on the cross.

If He had granted me such consolation in the midst of my little via dolorosa, I may have never fully given myself to Him in my sorrow. I may have stopped short of the spiritual growth that He was making available to me through this loss. And what's more, I likely wouldn't have appreciated such a consolation for what it was--a true vision of heaven--because I'd still be in the midst of my grief and self-focus.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the Lord.

"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, May 17, 2013

Getting Pretty Excited About Switching Doctors

So today was my last OB appointment here in my current town. My next appointment will be in our new state, and let me tell ya, after today I'm really looking forward to it.

It wasn't horrible, but it left me really thinking how wonderful it would be to have a doctor who could really care about how I feel about pregnancy and children. A Catholic doctor is an invaluable doctor.

I explained to my doc that I am moving, and that I'll be starting my doctoral work in September. She says, "But your baby is due in September! That's really close timing!"

I said, "Yes, it will be a little stressful, but we've done this before. Last time it was finals week." I tried to laugh it off, hoping the conversation wouldn't go where I knew it was bound.

She says, "Well, do we need to have a little talk about planning? Ha ha!"

You should have seen my face. Straight up GRIMACE. I couldn't even help it.

All the implications of that little question: It implied that I wasn't on or didn't use birth control correctly (I wasn't on birth control thankyouverymuch, and I'd like to keep it that way). It completely disregarded that we did try to have a baby with plenty of time before my program started (but darn it all, that baby died). It also completely overlooks what I think is so obvious here: I trust God with planning my babies, more than you will ever know, lady. We don't get to plan, and losing my second baby really kinda makes that super-evident.

I know I can't expect people to think like I do. To cherish life like I do. To know where I'm coming from and how I feel about this baby. But oh, how I wish I could.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Letter to Myself Before Motherhood


Yes. I'm doing this. I'm writing a letter you will never read until it's too late. And it's cliche now, I know. To write a letter to your past self. But I'm writing it for others too--those who might be in your position, that in which you are hopeful, still skinny (even though you don't think so), just married, trying to control everything, and in which you do not yet have children. And I'm writing it for your future, because you think you've been through a lot right now--and you have--but you still don't know what's coming, and you need a reminder that this is all His, not yours, so trust in Him. For your own sanity. Please.

Should I tell you everything that's going to happen to you? Make prophecy, like Simeon made to Mary, and scare the living crap out of you? Should I tell you that a sword shall pierce your own heart, and you will give up much of what you thought your life might be?

Should I tell you of the joy, the wonder, the hope you will experience? Should I spoil it all for you now, in the name of the "planning" you so enjoy?

Should I tell you what emotions and thoughts to expect when you hold her, or when you lose him? When you fall to your knees in thanksgiving for the one you now carry? Should I tell you what a miracle feels like?

You, who likes to plan everything and loves only good surprises, you must give that up. You must learn that His plans are unexpected. His surprises are pure Joy. And He will ask you to do hard things. He will require much of your heart. And you will give it to him, by grace, because you love Him. You do. And He knows it. But oh, how He loves you! How He provides for you! Shall I tell you all of that, too?

Sometimes you are irritated because no one really told you what to expect. You think to yourself, "why didn't anyone tell me I would feel this way? Why didn't anyone prepare me?" You are annoyed at this, and you vow to tell other mothers-to-be what they really want to know.

But, you see, no one--not even your own mom--could have told you these things. And there's a reason why:  no one could know what our good and gracious Lord has planned for you. And no one could know how He formed your heart to receive His plans, those joyous, and those sorrowful. The reason you are annoyed is because these things aren't under your control, and darling, you have to let go of that. Trust in Him.

So I won't tell you everything either, because if I do, it will take away the opportunities God gives you to put your trust solely in Him, especially when you can't see. Those opportunities are a gift, a wonderful gift. And humbling your sense of control enough to trust is a great grace. Resist the temptation to throw it away for the sake of your perceived sense of control.

Remember, this is all His. He does everything out of love for you. When you are blind, when you feel inadequate, when you are barren, when you are fruitful, when you are fearful, when you are surprised by evil, remember that the Lord has already cured all these things. He is the one true Good within and without this world, and it is Him you seek over all.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: I need your advice!

Last week's takes were a bit on the depressing side, so I'm going for a little lighter feel this morning. I'm also asking for a lot of advice, so feel free to give it where you can! And as always, thanks to Jen, for hosting!

Not my actual hand, but looks close to my situation.
1. My fingers are swelling kinda fast. I really need to get my rings off before they have to be cut off. Anyone have any ideas/advice for this? I've tried the string/floss thing, and let's just say this wasn't a good plan for me.

2. I want to get a ring (in a bigger size) to wear in the interim, while we're waiting for baby to come, and I'm looking for one that is cheap, but at least somewhat classy. But, since this is temporary, I'd like to jump outside my usual boring-style box, and go for something fun. What do you think about this one? I think it also kinda symbolizes the reason I'm wearing this ring...what do ya think? Is that really cheese-tastic?

3. Praise the Lord! The weather has been so perfect here for the past three days. I am not taking it for
About six miles from my apartment.
granted. Little A and I have spent the last few days at the park as much as possible.

4. Since my hubby's been gone, little A has been acting out a little bit, mostly by being really clingy to me (which is fine). However, her behavior also manifests itself in her interactions with her grandma and aunties. When she sees them (a few times a week), her way of greeting them is to yell, "NOOOO!" and either run away or make a motion like she is going to hit the person she is addressing. How do I deal with this? It's strange because she only acts like that with people she knows really well, not with strangers, and as far as I know, not with her preschool teachers.

I've tried explaining alternative behaviors and explaining that she is hurting their feelings, but it doesn't seem to be working. I'm not sure this is a discipline issue, because I think she seeks the attention, but she is trying to get it the negative way--maybe trying to control the situation or something. Any ideas for next steps I can take?

5. Can anyone help me choose a DSLR camera? I am not necessarily an aspiring photog, and I know next to nothing about cameras. I am also on a budget. BUT, I am in need of a good camera. Not just a little pocket-sized point-and-shoot. I need something that takes great pictures, something that works well consistently, and something somewhat user friendly. I guess I need a camera that I can grow into, you know what I mean? Someone suggested that I get the Nikon D3100. Does anyone second that?

6. Seven more work days until I am done and ready to move on! So so excited to close this chapter.

7. Ok, I need one last piece of advice: I want to get started learning at least one of my foreign languages over the summer with a do-it-yourself style course. I'll be learning Italian and Latin. Anyone have experience with a "Latin for dummies" type thing? Or other suggestions?

Once you've shared your advice, head on over to Jen's! :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Women and Agape

This afternoon, as I left work on my way to pick up little A, this song came on the radio:

I belong with you; you belong with me. You're my sweetheart.

Days like this, I miss my husband. A lot.

I associate this song with one of the first times I actually felt happy after we lost Romeo Gerard. My husband told me we were going to dinner; he had booked reservations at a hip and fancy restaurant in town, so we dropped off little A and had dinner to ourselves. He had just purchased the Lumineers album, and we sang along to this song all the way home from dinner.

Naturally, when the song came on the radio this afternoon, I became emotional, really feeling the loss of RG and missing my husband. It's not been so easy having him gone over the last few weeks, with four more weeks to go. (Of course, we've done this before, but I wasn't trying to parent a two year old that time.) I teared up a bit in the car, and I wanted to let myself feel that emotion for a little while.

But suddenly I was at little A's preschool, and I was going to have to go in to sign her out, and help her get her coat, and ask her 45 times to try to go potty, and wipe her nose--all the things we do every afternoon when I pick her up. I wouldn't be able to continue feeling what I needed to feel right then, because I needed to be emotionally available to little A.

She had made me a mother's day card (the irony of which broke my heart, since I was thinking so much of RG in the moments before) and needed me to let her know how much I appreciated it. She needed me to be positive and encouraging as she tried to go potty by herself. She needed me to listen to her about her day, and how she made a macaroni necklace, and lost her hair tie on the playground, and hear her sing her ABC's three times in a row, joyfully praising her every time. In other words, she needed me to be her mother, a duty I welcome gratefully because I know how fragile it is.

This situation has presented itself a lot over the past few weeks especially; it feels heavier, now that I don't have my husband to accommodate her needs if I am feeling emotionally unable. When we're together, we can tag team--emotionally and physically--to manage little A's needs while one of us takes a break as necessary. Yet without him, I am her only "responder,"  so my emotional needs are (rightfully and necessarily) set aside for her sake.

I didn't realize how true that really was until today, when I was quickly wiping tears off my cheeks, checking my mascara in the rear view mirror, and consciously changing emotional gears as I got out of the car and headed into little A's preschool.

It is a privilege that I get to pick her up, that I get to be her mother. It is a grace that I am able to swallow hard and change my attitude so quickly for her sake. It is a good and necessary sacrifice to put my own need to feel what I feel aside in order to be what she needs. And, I'm realizing, it is one of the sacrifices of motherhood. One of many. And one of many pearls in the crown of a woman. 

Because it isn't only mothers who make this kind of emotional sacrifice; and it is that very sacrifice which unites women who are physical mothers and who are spiritual mothers. It is, in a specific way, the feminine genius, and a quality that can be manifest in all women in various ways. Still, no matter the method, this sacrifice is agape. It's dying to self for the sake of another. It's love. Christ-love. And it is, very particularly, the love women are really good at giving--even when it hurts.

As the Lumineers sing so heartily at the end of Ho Hey, "Love. We need it now. Let's hope for some. So we're bleeding now." It is necessary to hope for this kind of Love in our world. In our lives. In the hardest of times. And Love causes us to bleed. But it is the best of sacrifices.

Monday, May 6, 2013

I Feel It Every Day

Now that I am visibly pregnant, the questions have started:

Do you know what you're having? When are you due? How do you feel? How far along are you?

I don't mind questions. I think it's a positive sign that people are interested in pregnancy. But there is one question I really really detest.

Is this your first?

It's such an innocent question. I used to love answering this question. I think I would have always liked to proudly answer this question no matter how many children I had. But now, it's so complicated.

When someone asks me this question, I am immediately in a state of questioning myself: How well do I know this person? Do I want to bring up the whole discussion about losing RG? Will this person say something inappropriate or hurtful? Don't I want to be a witness to RG's life, and all life at any stage? Shouldn't I be honest about the number of children I have, even though one isn't here with me on earth? Do I want to go through this in my mind again? Will I regret whatever answer I give in this moment?

And in a millisecond, I have to decide the answer to these questions and give it.

None of these situations is exactly like the last time. I don't feel like I can have a standard answer. I feel awkward. And I can't help but be reminded--even if I don't regret my answer--of RG, and the ever-present void in my heart.

And for me, that void never goes away, even though others forget it.

In my 20 week ultrasound, the tech asked me how many pregnancies I have had, and I said "This is my third." My mother responded loudly, in surprise, "third!?" And I just looked at her thinking, "are you serious?" I suppose she confused the word "pregnancy" with "baby," but even then, her response was wrong.

If I've had three pregnancies, then I've had three babies.  It's just that one of them has died.

Friday, May 3, 2013

7QT: Evil and Hope

Ok. I like to be all about the hopeful here on FTFF. You guys know I talk about hope a whole lot. But I'm taking a page from Mama Needs Coffee's 7 Quick Takes this morning, and I'm going to call out the evil where I see it.

You know the great thing about naming evil and rebuking it? You always end up with Hope.

1. I know my comments are late on this one, but here we go anyway: three out of seven charges were dropped for Gosnell, because it couldn't be proven that those three babies were alive when they were born as a result of failed abortions. Here is my question to you, you despicable judge:

If the babies weren't alive when they were born, WHY WOULD YOU HAVE TO STAB THEM WITH SCISSORS AND INTERNALLY DECAPITATE THEM? For serious. I'm asking you to logically answer that question.

2. But you know what? If he is convicted (honestly, we can only HOPE he's convicted, and that there are people in the jury who have even a slight sense of moral conviction), I really HOPE he isn't given the death penalty. Why?

3. Giving him the death penalty is opposed to life. It's an eye for an eye. The Catechism does not fully reject the death penalty, but I don't think that the death penalty is the "only possible way" to keep Gosnell from continuing his practice of murdering babies, and so I don't think the death penalty is appropriate here:
From the Catechism:

Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. (2306)

4. Giving Gosnell the death penalty will completely discredit pro-lifers in the minds abortion proponents.

5. I really, truly (despite my personal ire at Gosnell and the entire abortion industry), HOPE he will repent before he dies. What a joy in heaven that would be, to see this sinner, this evil, turn back to God and repent of the sins he has committed against life. If we condemn him to death, we deprive him of that chance, and that's not very human of us, is it?

So He told them this parable, saying, 4“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5“When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6“And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15: 3-7

6. Now THIS, this is evil. Almost every single thing he says in this video is a LIE. And as my mother once told me, "Liars sleep with the devil." Now I'm gonna get a little ranty here. 

I could go on and on and on, and dissect this speech which is rife with lies, but you get my point. If you listen to it, you will be able to pick them out easily all by yourself. 

I just want to point out a couple of things, besides the lies, that struck me. When Obama points to the laws for life made in FORTY TWO different states, he labels them as backwards, and absurd. But, Mr. Obama, doesn't it tell you that you're a wee bit out of touch with what Americans want if FORTY TWO states have made these laws?

Secondly, he outright admits that his healthcare reform is a result of his belief that women have a right to choose. So much for all the work you've done couching Obamacare in terms of "something all Americans need."

But you wanna know what else is evil about this? The blasphemy. Asking God to bless Planned Parenthood is blasphemy. This image is blasphemy: -------->

EDITED to say: I don't think President Obama is an evil person. I think some of the things he does and says are, and I would hope the same fate for him as I do for Kermit Gosnell (see number 5). It's just getting more and more difficult to give him the respect due a president, when I see him consistently making choices that defy the Good, and doing things that defy all reason--secular or sacred.

The only One who can give Hope to this world, in the face of all this evil is Christ. 

So finally, after the longest quick takes ever, I give you number 7.  For lighter reading, you can escape over to Jen's where you'll find the rest of the 7QT crew.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

So Here's Something Weird...

...and I don't mean weird in a negative way, but just weird.

A few weeks ago we went to Marybeth's clinic, had a 3D ultrasound, and found out we were having a boy! The picture looked very clear. So we put our minds to work coming up with boy's names, even asked for your input (thanks Kat!), and started using "he" to describe little L Baby.

Well, today I went in for my 20-ish week ultrasound at my regular doctor (I'm 21w3d today), and the tech said, rather confidently, that we are having a girl! So.....weird.

I know this has happened to people before, and obviously I'd be ecstatic to be having either a boy or a girl. I'm just happy to be this far along and praising God for every minute of this. But I don't know what to think now, as both pictures looked really convincing.

I suppose we'll just have to be surprised when this baby comes along in September. And I s'pose I'll have to go back and tell people that we don't really know which gender we're expecting...which is only slightly embarrassing.

All in all, praise God (!!!) we are having what looks like a healthy babe, who, whether boy or girl, will glorify God (we pray) here on earth.

Incidentally, little L baby was clearly not as surprised/entertained as I was during this whole thing, because he or she kept yawning during the appointment.