Monday, March 30, 2015

Making it a Holy Week

It's Holy Week. The holiest of home stretches leading up to Easter. The marathon of masses. The last hurrah of the season of Lent.

But can I be honest with you?

This has not been my best Lent.

My liturgical involvement has been minimal. We haven't attended Stations on the Cross once because it coincides with Johnny's bedtime, and I am way to exhausted by the time evening rolls round.

And my sacrifices have been wimpy. With my stomach feeling super queasy and my list of palatable foods changing with each day, giving up a particular food item didn't seem that feasible.

The thought of giving up TV or social media seemed unbearable as that often provides a much needed distraction from feeling tired or sick.

So I decided I would give up complaining instead.


ha ha.

Ask my husband how I did on that one. Could he even tell a difference?

I feel gross.  I hate morning sickness. I'm so tired. Johnny is being so difficult. I slept terribly.

And so on. And so on.

Oh you're suffering enough by being pregnant, many people have said to me. I'd kind of like to take that excuse. But when I look at the cross and see the horrific and amazing sacrifice Jesus made there, playing the pregnant card just seems lame, pathetic, and unacceptable.

Today I am over at Blessed is she for the daily devotional. I turned in my writing assignment back in February, but the words ring so true for me I could have written it today.


"Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.” (John 12:3) 

What a beautiful and intimate scene we are allowed a glimpse of in today’s Gospel, Mary anointing the feet of Jesus. Foot washing was a common show of hospitality in Biblical days, but Mary takes it one step further by anointing Jesus’ feet with pure nard. Nard was a very expensive spice, the cost of which was close to an entire year’s wages. Mary could have saved this extravagant ointment to use on herself, or, as Judas so bluntly points out, she could have sold it for a great deal of money. But there is no room in her mind for anything but Jesus, and so she pours this precious gift out on His feet........continue reading at Blessed is She.


Here I am, feeling like my own sacrifices are a little embarrassing compared to what Mary so willingly gave. 

But there's still time. We have a week left. This very Holy Week. It's time to give everything.

When I feel sick to my stomach, give it to Jesus. 

When I'm so tired my whole body hurts, give it to Jesus.

When there are complaining and impatient words hitting the back of my teeth, give them to Jesus. 

When it feels like motherhood is a never ending exercise in suffering, give it to Jesus and thank Him for suffering for me. 

And most of all my heart, the thing He desires more than any amount of desserts or screen time. If I can give Him my heart with reckless abandon then it really will be a Holy Week. 

I hope you have a Holy Week and a Happy Easter!


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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mom Confession Vol. 6: We Must Be crazy

I looked on helplessly as my 22-month old tore each and every book and DVD off the shelf and threw them to the floor, too tired and nauseous to rise from my place on the couch to intervene. Then I looked down at my rapidly expanding belly and I thought, we must be crazy! 

I am all for babies and children and large families, but right now I am having a moment where I completely understand why some people just want one.  Or maybe two, a boy and a girl would be nice. I love being a mom, but it is really hard! And come October, I'll be a mom of not just one, but two!

We must be crazy! 

The last two months of morning sickness (who made up that name anyway? What a misnomer. More like all day, all night sickness.) and extreme fatigue have left me feeling like motherhood is a thankless job that demands all and gives nothing back. I've sacrificed my usual alone time during Johnny's nap to nap myself. Not having that time for self care or creative expression is beginning to take its toll. I'm crabby, mad at my husband for all the time he gets to spend with grown-ups at work, impatient with Johnny when he's just being a toddler, and overall feeling maxed out. 

Remind me why I am doing this again?

It's easy to say that all the sweet moments make up for all the hard ones.  All the good cuddles, and and sweet sloppy kisses, and first steps and first words make all this hard work worth it. As awesome as all those things are, they're also kind of superficial. I think being a mother has to mean more than that.

I've been reading Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting by fellow blogger Laura Kelly Fanucci, and apart from it being packed with beautiful word of wisdom, every time I open it up I feel like someone is saying to me, "I know how you feel, and it's ok." And then I feel like someone is saying, "this is holy work we are doing. It's hard, but it's holy."

I am learning more about Christ and becoming more like Him because I am a mother. I knew this in a head knowledge kind of way. But it didn't really strike my heart until I read this the other night:

You are a whisper of a whirl curled up deep in my belly. The hormonal soup
in which you swim makes me nauseous at all hours of the day. I choke down
crackers when I wake, throw up in the sink before breakfast, and pull over at
gas stations to get sick on the drive to work. I collapse on the couch before 
sunset most evenings, too tired to drag myself to bed. 

I am three months. pregnant. This is my body, given for you.  

When I feel like I have nothing more to give, all of sudden my giving feels like it has some purpose. Being a mother is making me more like Christ. I can feel the wood of the cross. I can appreciate His life poured out to give me life.

Apart from the ways I am being made holier through motherhood, being a mother is worth it because of children themselves. Children have intrinsic value because they, like all of us, are created in the image and likeness of God. Even though they may make my life harder, and put a damper on some fun I might otherwise be having, children matter. My cousin Bethany wrote a great post on this very subject and I went back and read it again this week, because, well, I needed it. 

Then, on top of all of this, there's this amazing thing of being allowed to participate in the miracle of creation. When I really stop and consider what's going on inside of me it just seems crazy. A person is growing inside me. It's so weird and mysterious and divine.

So maybe we are a little bit crazy, but at least I know why I am doing this. That's what makes it all worth it. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

7 quick takes vol. 14: all about morning sickness

Now that the cat's out of the bag, I can blog all about morning sickness symptoms, which is the only thing I can think about right now.

Blurry 9 week bump.  Not sure how much of this is new baby bump or left over Johnny bump.


First trimester stinks in so many ways, except that I can eat whatever I want all day long and not gain any weight. In fact, this is how I keep from feeling too sick, I just keep eating, whatever sounds good. It's been a lot of toast. A lot of smoothies. And a lot of the frozen macaroni dinners from Trader Joe's. So cheesy and delicious. Surprisingly though, sweets have not been sounding too great. When I was pregnant with Johnny I had ice cream pretty much everyday for 9 months. With this one there's only been one emergency DQ far. I suspect this will pick up once summer hits. 


A couple weeks ago I had Burger King at 10:00 in the morning. It was the best tasting thing I ate all day. No shame.


My sense of smell is so amazing right now. We were at a gala for a Catholic school about a month ago and I could smell glasses of red wine from five feet away. Also, every time I open the refrigerator it smells like barf. And every time I change Johnny's diaper it smells like barf. And every time Alex eats something with get the idea. 


Alex has this pair of really baggy, comfy sweatpants, and that is all I've been wearing for the past six weeks. 5 minutes before students come over I suck it up and put some jeans on. It's the worst part of my day.


I'm now a senior citizen. I go to bed at 9:30 every night. If I don't I turn into a pile of sweatpants and fizzy water bottles. Just. So. Tired. Poor Alex has had to put up with so much. But he's a champ, picking up all of the slack I've been leaving all around. What would I do without him?


Keeping Johnny happy during the day is hard to do while trying to lie still on the couch, but we manage. The other day I was snacking on some grapes and Johnny really enjoyed pulling them off the stems and then feeding them to me. Or rather, stuffing his entire fist into my mouth. We did this for over a half hour.  We also sit on the couch and take selfies together.


We're at 9 weeks over here. So I figure I've got a few more weeks before I'm feeling 100% again. But I do believe the morning sickness has been easing up a little bit this past week. Which is good, because I really hate it when folding a single basket of laundry feels like an accomplishment. 

for more Quick Takes visit This Ain't The Lyceum 


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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Parenting and the Unexpected

I just want to have a plan. I want things to go according to plan. I want to know what lies ahead, and I want to be in control. But when does that ever happen? I should just get used to charging forward into the great unknown and embrace the unexpected.

Everything about our parenting journey so far has been unexpected.

We weren't expecting the two year battle with infertility we faced before conceiving Johnny. We were two young, and by all appearances, healthy people. Infertility didn't happen to people like us. But it did - it caught me totally off guard, and it taught me that you can plan all you want but ultimately everything is in the hands of The Lord.

We weren't expecting the miscarriage I suffered during those two years of trying. It was probably the most devastating experience of my life, and something I probably still haven't fully grieved over. But it did teach me to take nothing for granted, and that every soul created is worth celebrating and worth grieving over.

Then there is Johnny. Everything about him has been a surprise. Two weeks before I found out I was pregnant with him my physician referred me for a laporoscopic procedure for endometriosis. This would be an expensive procedure, it would most likely not be covered by insurance, and it wouldn't even guarantee that we would be able to conceive afterwards. Everything I thought I wanted for my life was called into question. Was I supposed to have kids? Was I supposed to be a mom? If not, then what did God want from me? I learned through this experience, more than anything else, to surrender my will, my hopes, and dreams, 100% to Jesus.

And then the positive pregnancy test.

"How?" I asked my doctor.

"Sometimes God works miracles." she said.

I had already learned not to take anything for granted and so I spent the first five or six months being excited, but trying not to hold on too tightly to that pregnancy. Once my baby was viable, I began to relax and think, this is really happening!

Then Johnny was born and all his unexpected health complications began to surface. Our introduction to parenthood was like being plunged head first into river of rapids. Miscarriage was still the most devastating thing I had every been through, but that week in the NICU with Johnny was the most difficult thing I've ever been through. I also think that that week has grown my character and shaped my life, not to mention strengthened my marriage, more than any other life event. I've learned that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

Parenthood continues to throw the unexpected at us. Some are unpleasant, like the onset of toddler tantrums. But then there is a 10 hour stretch of sleep through the night that leaves us so refreshed and almost afraid to mention it for fear that it will never happen again.

We had one of those happy unexpecteds about a month ago in the form of a positive pregnancy test! We had been trying for a few months, I was getting pretty used to the negative tests and was mentally preparing myself for another long fight for a baby.  And then it happened! Maybe it was getting Johnny night-weaned.  Maybe it was going off sugar for a month. Maybe it was just when God wanted it to happen. Whatever it was, it happened. And we are thrilled!

Tiniest ultrasound picture ever. This was baby at 6 weeks.
But there's still that one thing, the unknown, the unexpected. I know all too well that things don't always go according to plan. I just want someone to guarantee that everything will be ok, but I know that's not possible. And so my joy is laced with caution. We've already been through so much, so I know that whatever happens, by the grace of God, we will persevere. 

And though I'm still new to the job, I really believe that's what parenthood is: a whole lot of unknowns and unexpecteds. And a whole lot of grace to get through it. 

100% officially accepting prayers for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby! Look for baby #2 at the beginning of October!


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