7 Quick Takes: The Random Edition

Friday, March 30, 2012

Did you see how much money was raised towards little Malcolm’s adoption? And now a family in Arizona has officially committed to adopting  him. How wonderful. Go Internet.

Operation: Lose Baby Weight is going really well. I have less than 10lbs to go. Call me vain or superficial, but I can’t tell you how much better I feel about myself now that my weight is back down within a normal range. And since I’ve been running pretty regularly, I feel good physically too. 

Of course, now that my weight is back down, you know what that means. I’m probably going to get pregnant soon. Haha, just kidding…kinda. But I am kind of getting baby fever. I feel like everyone I know is pregnant or just had a baby and I’m jealous. I have to remind myself that I have a baby, two of them in fact. Oh, but those little newborns make me swoon. 

The girls have been playing so well together lately. Those two are the best of friends. It’s almost ridiculous how much they love each other. It makes my Mama heart happy.

Of course, now that they play together more, they have also started to, umm, shall we say challenge one another more. Although, Hannah is the best big sister ever, she can sometimes get a little rough with Abby. But don’t you worry, Abby can hold her own. They are practically the same weight. Love my little twiblings.

My mother-in-law is headed to Holland next week with some friends, so we’re having her over for dinner tomorrow night. I’m cooking a traditional Dutch meal, whatever that means. We’re having Gouda cheese, Herring (according to Wikipedia, they eat a lot of Herring in the Netherlands), potatoes and for dessert we’re having pot brownies. 

Our parish has this lovely little tradition of having the 2nd graders who will be making their First Communion this Spring decorate paper butterflies. Then the priest invites parishioners to select one of the butterflies and to pray for that child as they prepare to receive the Eucharist. I just love this idea. I’m praying for a little girl named Bridget. The children make their First Communion in May and I want to give her a little gift (since I don’t know her, I figure I can drop it off at the CCD office) to let her know I’ve been praying for her. Any suggestions? 

Okay, no rhyme or reason to my Quick Takes this week. For more, visit Jen's blog, who by the way commented on my little blog this past week. Oh my goodness, I felt like a rockstar. 


Wednesday, March 28, 2012
We're headed out to California for Easter this year and I'm so exited! It will be so fun to see my family, I miss them! My grandmother puts on a great Easter brunch and Easter egg hunt and Hannah is old enough this year to join in the festivities. We're looking forward to it.

While we're out there, we're also throwing my sister a bridal shower. I am super excited for this. My sister Libby and I have been planning it and it's been almost more fun planning than it will be actually attending it (just kidding-kinda). We have big plans for this shower, but we joke it will probably all turn out like those sarcastic "nailed it" pictures (see below), but we don't care.

Some people out there in Internet-land take their bridal (and baby) showers pretty seriously. They hire event planners and buy fancy cakes and decorations. Who knew? So we're attempting to throw a shindig that looks like one of those fancy showers, but isn't really. I'll keep you posted on how it turns out.

Then in May my Mom is coming to visit us! I can't wait for her visit too. We're going to have so much fun playing with Grams for an entire week.

It's going to be a wonderful spring, I can just feel it!

The Power of Blogs

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Sometimes I’m amazed at the power of blogs. Look at what several bloggers have managed to do for Reece’s Rainbow and little Malcolm. In just one day they have managed to raise nearly $4,000. Thank you if you donated! It’s incredible.

Blogging is such a powerful medium. I feel so fortunate that I have come-of-age in the era of the internet. It's funny because most, if not all of the blogs I read are by women whom I've never even met and yet they have had a profound effect on me. I listen to them, I learn from them, I heed their advice. If these women recommend a particular book or perfume, I'll buy it for goodness sakes. The Catholic "mommy bloggers" have made me a better wife, mother and Christian. 

But sometimes when I read the blogs of women who are doing incredible things like this one (my new favorite blog), I admit, I feel a little jealous. It’s a holy envy in that I admire their faith and their convictions. They are doing something wonderful and big for God. But I am left questioning my own life. How can I better live the Gospel? What is something "big" I should do for God?

Yesterday as I was praying (in the car), I asked God what it was that he wanted of me? What is it that my life can offer? So often I expect God to ask something monumental of me, something that would completely change my life and everything in it. But I'm slowly learning that while God does indeed work that way sometimes, He also works in small ways too. And small ways are not to be discounted. Remember the poor widow's offering of just two coins?

Several hours after my prayer, I checked my email and discovered a note from the Jorge Posada Foundation asking if I would be willing to mentor a woman (and family) whose child was just diagnosed with Craniosynostosis. The family lives in Maryland, but will be traveling to Boston to see the same neurosurgeon that Abby had.

And there it was. It's not big and dramatic, like adopting an orphan from Africa, but it's something and it's someone I can help. I have to laugh at myself, God was probably just waiting for me to ask.

First Bike Ride

Matthew took Hannah for her first bike ride this past weekend. She loved it! We've been wanting to do this since forever and we finally got around to putting the bike seat on the bike. Massachusetts has this silly law that a child must be 1 year old to ride in a bike seat or a trailer, so Abby is going to have to wait a few more months. But we plan on doing a lot of bike riding together as a family this summer. Can't wait!
Looking at herself in the mirror.

She loved it! Can you tell Matthew loves to have his picture taken?


Monday, March 26, 2012
Paolo de Matteis~ The Annunciation
Happy Feast of the Annunciation! Probably my favorite Joyful Mystery.

"The true concept of freedom is "Freedom is the right to do whatever we ought," and ought implies goal, purpose, morality, and the law of God. True freedom is within the law, not outside it. I am free to draw a triangle, if I give it three sides, but not, in a stroke of broad-mindedness, fifty-seven sides. I am free to fly on condition that I obey the law of aeronautics. In the spiritual realm, I am also most free when I obey the law of God.

The mystery of the Incarnation is very simply that of God's asking a woman freely to give Him a human nature. In so many words, through the angel, He was saying: "Will you make Me a man?" As from the first Adam came the first Eve, so now, in the rebirth of man's dignity, the new Adam will come from the new Eve. And in Mary's free consent we have the only human nature that was ever born in perfect liberty.

We speak much of freedom today, Mary, because we are losing it—just as we speak most of health when we are sick. Thou art the Mistress of Freedom because thou didst undo the false freedom that makes men slaves to their passions by pronouncing the word God Himself said when He made light and again when thy Son redeemed the world—Fiat! Or, be it done unto me according to God's will. As the "no" of Eve proves that the creature was made by love and is therefore free, so thy Fiat proves that the Creature was made for love as well. Teach us, then, that there is no freedom except in doing, out of love, what thou didst do in the Annunciation, namely, saying Yes to what Jesus asks."

 ~Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Save the Orphans

These last few weeks I haven’t been able to get “orphans” off my mind. Then this morning, I read this post and this one attempting to get little Malcolm the money he needs to get him a family. Won’t you consider donating? Just $10 would make a difference in the life of this child. 

My children are fed, clothed, housed and most importantly, loved. Sometimes, I look at them and think “how did you get so lucky?” There are thousands, millions of children worldwide who aren’t so fortunate. While hunger, nakedness and homelessness are devastating, I think a child feeling unloved is the worst tragedy of all. To think of children without anyone to cuddle or kiss them breaks my heart.  I just want to take all the motherless children out there and hug them. Or just adopt them all. 

But right now we are not in a position to adopt a child and sometimes I think anything I would try to do would be a drop in the bucket. But I can pray and I can donate money.Won't you consider doing the same?

“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”
~Mother Teresa

7 Quick Takes: 7 Books on My Kindle

Friday, March 23, 2012
1. The Hunger Games
I totally jumped on The Hunger Games bandwagon. Oh my goodness the first book was so good, in a disturbing Brave New World type of way. I read the entire book in one night, I couldn't put it down.

2. Defending Jacob
Another book I read in one sitting. A very thought provoking book about parent-child relationships and the secrets children and parents keep from one another. Another disturbing book, especially regarding teenagers and the internet. The story was set in this area, so that made it all the more interesting. 

3. A Grace Given
If I could recommend any book for someone to read this year it would have to be this one. I had the pleasure of meeting the woman whose husband who wrote this book. It chronicles their life and struggles as they watch their firstborn child, their daughter, suffer from a debilitating illness. It's incredibly moving. The author explores the relationship between love and suffering and faith. As a parent who has had to endure a hospitalized child, it struck an extremely deep chord for me. It's a must read in my book.

4. Daughter of Joy
I've totally gotten hooked on these Amish romance type novels. Their family-centered, simplistic lifestyle has me seriously considering conversion, haha.

5. Our Lady of Kibeho: Mary Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa
This is a book by Immaculee Ilibagiza, author of the incredible Left to Tell. In this book she writes about the Marian apparitions in Rwanda. Really fascinating.

6. Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Book
Okay, this book isn't on my Kindle. I bought it for the girls and it's so cute! It's a counting book that tells the story of Pride and Prejudice. "1 English Village, 2 Rich Gentlemen" and so on. Classic literature, right up our family's alley.

7. The Midwife
I haven't read this book yet, but it's calling my name. I think it's next up on the list.

Have you read any great books lately?

Outdoor Pictures

It was a beautiful day yesterday, so we spent most of it playing outside.

Sombody got a new soccer ball.

She loves to dribble and kick the ball.

Until she finds a stick.
How cute is this kid? Seriously.

A fun day outdoors. 

I love my kids.

Future Birth Plan

Thursday, March 22, 2012
After my last post on c-sections, I was asked if we are going to try again for a homebirth with baby #3 (no, this isn’t any sort of announcement;) ). And since I can’t pass up a chance to talk about “birth” or myself, I figured I should just write a whole post about what we envision for future births.  Sidenote: I have mixed emotions about birth plans because I think there are so many variables in childbirth and often labor and delivery, like life, doesn’t go according to a “plan.” I worry that envisioning a perfect birth only leads to disappointment. But I do think it is important to be prepared. So this is our strategy for a future labor and delivery. Here goes.

In a perfect world we would plan a homebirth for baby #3 and believe that my body, which made it so far with Abby’s labor, would finally be able to physically deliver a baby. My midwives are extremely supportive of another homebirth and are fully confident that I could birth my baby naturally and at home.

However, unlike many women attempting homebirths, we have several variables, such as a history of long labors, multiple c-sections and craniosynostosis (which I believe made a natural birth for Abby impossible) that make achieving a natural birth a bit more challenging. As much as I desire a homebirth, I feel like I have to be realistic about what I’m up against.

So for future pregnancies we plan to see both a midwife and a doctor. We will be going back to the doctor that delivered Hannah. He was great and extremely supportive of natural birth and sympathized with my disappointment with having to have a c-section. We will see him for all the appointments during the pregnancy and when labor begins, he will be our point man. In many ways, this is like nearly every other pregnancy in America.

However, I will also have appointments at home with my midwives. We’re pretty sure we will use the ones that helped with Abby’s labor, but we’re not entirely certain yet. When labor begins we will contact the midwives and have them come to our home where I will labor with their support for a time. If within 24 hours the labor is progressing well and the baby is close to being born, there is a strong possibility we will just stay put and deliver at home with the midwives. Although, that is a bridge we will cross when we get to it.

However, if after 24 hours, it doesn’t look like the labor is following the course it should, we will go to the hospital and submit to their interventions and care. Both Matthew and I agree we are done with three-day labors, hence the time limit for the next one.

Honestly, I don’t know how the next birth will go, but I’ve come to accept that I’m okay with whatever happens. If we have to go to the hospital or have another c-section, fine. In the end, I really just want a healthy baby. And I do believe that at some point God will allow me to have the natural birth I so desire.  

So that's our strategy for future labors and births in a nutshell. How I approach future pregnancies will also be slightly different, but I suppose that is a different post altogether.

I Survived!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Half Marathon-Check. I think I got something like 1,000th place, but I don't care. I'm so proud of myself for doing this. I think I want to do some sort of physical challenge (does anyone else think of that show Double Dare when I say this?) after each baby.

Some More Thoughts On C-Sections

Friday, March 16, 2012
Recently, I’ve been toying with the idea of making my blog private. There are certain advantages to a private blog, namely, privacy. Plus, I would know exactly who is reading my blog and wouldn’t need to worry about weirdos checking out pictures of my children.

But on the other hand there may be a few posts on my blog that could be of help to someone, such as information regarding craniosynostosis or natural birth or fashion (haha).  Ultimately, I've decided to leave my blog open to the public, for now.

I’m so glad I did. Last week I received a very nice email from a woman who found my blog by googling “embarrassed to have a c-section.” Jenna, if you’re reading this, hello! Hopefully you received my note back to you. Out of  respect for her privacy, I won’t go into details, but suffice to say she is struggling with many of the same emotions I did after giving birth to Abby. I wrote about them in this post here. Reading about what she is currently going through brought me back to last summer. All those feelings that weighed so heavily on me back then came rushing back. 

It sounds funny that embarrassment can be a primary feeling following a c-section. After both my c-sections, I would sometimes let people assume I had a natural birth. I wouldn’t tell them I had a c-section. I know, so weird, right? But the truth was, I was embarrassed. I was afraid to admit that I delivered my child via surgery because I couldn’t birth her naturally or normally. I didn’t want to look like a failure, so I pretended I wasn't. 

Now that I’ve accepted the events and emotions surrounding Abby’s labor and birth (and Hannah's too for that matter), I can recognize that there is no need to feel shame or embarrassment.  The experience was what it was. If this was 1812 or even 1912, both Abby and I would have most likely died in childbirth. That's a scary thought and for that reason alone I am incredibly thankful for modern medicine and for c-sections.

With time I’ve come to accept my two c-sections. I'm okay with them because I still have hope that I will eventually have a natural birth. I pray that God will allow me to experience that just once. I am hopeful.  And hope is always a good thing to have. 

However, despite my feelings of hope, I am also much more realistic now. Next time around we will plan and do things much differently.  If we must have a third c-section, I will be prepared. I’ve been thinking about a potential third c-section a lot lately and what I would do differently and how I would get myself and my life ready. I’ve come up with a few ideas. Bear with me, this post is more for my sake.

      1) Pack appropriately. Bring several changes of clothes. Since we left for the hospital in such a rush when I was in labor with Abby, we just threw some clothes into a bag and I ended only packing a sweatshirt. Smart. For the few days I was in the hospital I was forced to wear my sweaty, dirty clothes. Yuck. (In retrospect, I should have asked Matthew to bring me some clothes, oh well.)

      2) Bring food. The hospital had room service, but it would often take up to an hour for the delivery man to bring me a bowl of cereal. Recovering from major abdominal surgery made it impossible to walk around, so more than once I was just sitting in my hospital bed, hungry. (This was when Matthew wasn’t there obviously.)

      3) Bring a laptop. Since Matthew was back and forth between the hospital and home, I tended to get a little lonely at times. Luckily, I had my phone which has internet and email, so I was able to talk to friends and family. But being able to surf the internet would have made for mindless entertainment. 
      4) Stay the entire time insurance allows. Both times I’ve had a C-section I’ve only stayed like 2-3 days. With a third child I think I’ll look at my time in the hospital as a mini-vacation. Might as well enjoy the down time while it lasts. 

      5) Schedule the baby’s Baptism from the hospital. I’ve always admired people who schedule their baby’s Baptism before the child is actually born. Considering, my babies always arrive two weeks after they're supposed to, planning anything post-baby is nearly impossible. So plan from the hospital.

      6) Arrange to have Eucharistic Minsters for the Homebound bring me Communion. Don’t laugh. After Abby was born my incision did not heal for 12 weeks. Twelve weeks! I couldn’t really go anywhere for the entire summer. During that whole time I kept thinking, “next week I’ll make it Mass,” but when a Sunday would arrive and I was still unable to walk, feelings of sadness and guilt would creep in. Having someone bring me Communion would be an immense help, both physically and spiritually.

      7) Prepare Meals. After Abby was born we were fortunate to have a bunch of dinners brought to us by friends. That was awesome. Hopefully we’ll be as lucky with the next child. Having lots of handy and easy-to-make meals and snacks was a huge help.

      8) Ask for and accept help. This reminder should probably be first. With each child, I seem to get better at asking for and accepting help. Grandma wants to take the girls? Awesome. Matthew is willing to grocery shop? Go for it. Remember, recovering from major surgery takes time and rest. People want to feel helpful, let them.

      9) Love on that baby. Now this point should really be first.The newborn days fly by, enjoy them! (Sometimes loving a child means going through the motions a little bit, especially if you’re suffering from PPD (I had a touch of it after Abby), but eventually love will win out.)

Any other thoughts or suggestions?


Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Some days I feel like all I do is prepare and cook and feed my little family.

Last night I made Pad Thai with tofu for dinner. I know, right? Pretty good. It was fairly simple thanks to the Pad Thai sauce I found at Whole Foods.  Next time I'm going to try it with shrimp. Yum!

Reece's Rainbow

I had seen mention of this charity before and have read a few blogs of families who have adopted children through Reece’s Rainbow and I've always been moved by the generous hearts of these people. However, it was not until this horrific story of the parents suing a hospital over the fact that their daughter was born with Down Syndrome (a "wrongful birth" suit is what they're calling it) that I decided to actually try to do something to help these little ones. So I finally decided to check out Reece's Rainbow.

Reece’s Rainbow is an adoption ministry whose mission it is to rescue orphans with Down Syndrome. They help facilitate international adoptions for these children and waiting families as well as help raise the necessary funds to pay for such adoptions. 

If I could, I would adopt all those little guys and girls who so desperately need a home. Children without parents or anyone to cuddle and kiss and love them have a soft spot in my heart, as they should.  Every child deserves to be loved. While currently we do not feel called to adopt one of these orphans, perhaps someone reading this blog is. By publicizing this charity we can hopefully get the word out there and help these children. 

Even if you are not called to adoption, there are many things you can still do to help Reece’s Rainbow and orphans with Down Syndrome. First things first, pray. Another easy and free option is to download the Good Search engine toolbar. Every time you search the internet Good Search will donate money to Reece’s Rainbow (or the charity of your choice). I just downloaded it this morning, so I’m still trying to figure out how everything works, but it seems that for every search you do, .$01 goes to Reece’s Rainbow. That may not sound like much, but if you search 50 things per day that adds up to around $15 per month and roughly $182 per year! That’s a good chunk of change all for just browsing the internet. So do it, download that search engine now!

Of course, RR is always accepting donations, so that is another way to help. I'm sure we can all find $20 to give this month. 

Finally, I would encourage you to go check out their website and see what a phenomenal charity this really is and what great things they are doing for children and families. 

"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."


Tuesday, March 13, 2012
... my 1/2 marathon is THIS Sunday! Uh oh...

My Little Reader

Friday, March 9, 2012
The more that you read, the more things you will know
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go. 
~Dr. Seuss

I love the crossed legs.

Thoughts on the Helmet

We had another helmet appointment this week. Abby's practitioner and I were working out the next several appointments and realized we only have four more to go. In three months Abby will be done with this helmet. I cannot wait!

For some reason, this picture just cracks me up.
Every time we visit Children’s Hospital I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. That may sound odd. But every time we’re there I’m reminded how much worse things could be. Abby’s condition is fixable. Besides this pesky little craniosynostosis, she is perfectly healthy.

Of course, sometimes with this whole helmet business I feel like I’ve missed out on Abby’s babyhood. She’s spent the entire first year of her life in a helmet, which makes it impossible to kiss her head, or cuddle her on my chest or put girly bows in her hair. 

When we’re out in public we get a lot of stares. Little kids point and tell me that my baby “looks weird” in a helmet. Usually I just laugh because, well, I suppose she does. Truth be told, I appreciate their honesty. But mostly I am just so thankful that she’s not old enough to realize what’s going on.

In some ways I feel like I’m straddling two worlds. Normalcy and not. On the one hand, Abby is beautiful and healthy and growing and developing like any normal little girl. On the other hand, she was born with a birth defect and we’ve spent the last nine months in and out of doctors’ offices. The other day I was trying to count just how many doctors she has. She has 5: a pediatrician, a neurosurgeon, an ophthalmologist, a plastic surgeon and a geneticist, not to mention her orthotist (helmet person). That’s a lot of doctors for one little girl. 

In just a few short months our little family will appear perfectly normal from all outward appearances. But internally, we know we are not. We have been forever changed by craniosynostosis. And there’s a strong possibility we may have more children with this condition, so if we are blessed with another child, we may very well have to begin this journey all over again. Sometimes that thought exhausts me.  

But I am comforted by the words of a wise friend, “God gives us the graces to handle what's happening today, not what we project into our future."
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