Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Baby's Here!

Cara Jane Elizabeth was born November 4 after about 10 hours of labor au naturel, a few hours of medicated labor and one cesarean section!

I'm not much for writing birth stories. I never wrote one for Lillian's birth, but I feel compelled to share just a little about Cara's birth.

I started having contractions around 7:30 am after awaking from a full night's sleep (thanks, baby!). I wasn't sure it was labor for real, so Oliver went to work as usual. My contractions kept coming on regularly every 10 minutes or so, so around 9 Oliver left work and came home.

I was doing well with labor. I don't remember it being unmanageable. I never got to the point where I felt like "I can't do this any more!" I just let the contractions come, changing positions as necessary for comfort. Around 10 my mother in law came over and watched Lillian. Oliver went to Wal-Mart to get a few last minute things. I was laying in bed coasting on steady contractions which were about 6-7 minutes apart.

At one point I went to the restroom and called labor and delivery. They said to go ahead and come in whenever. Lillian found me and I got up and started moving around. The moment I started moving around the contractions got alarmingly close together, like 4-5 minutes apart. A few minutes later and they were 3-4 minutes apart. I started getting worried because Oliver still wasn't back from the store. My MIL was cooking chalupas and she kept trying to talk to me, probably a good distraction. Finally Oliver came home and we were able to make it into the car and out the door. We had to call the insurance to tell them we were going to be checking in to the hospital, and every phone number we had was wrong. After what seemed like eternity as I was dealing with contractions in an uncomfortable car seat we eventually got the right phone number and started moving.

The car was an uncomfortable place to labor in. The ride lasted about 40-50 minutes. I had to use my voice as a focal point during the contractions. We made it to the hospital parking garage and began making the trek to labor and delivery. I had to stop every 2 minutes and hang on to Oliver and coast through a contraction. By the time we made it in to the delivery room I was 7-8 cm dilated.

I labored in the room a little bit, and then within a short time I felt like pushing. I asked my midwife to break my waters since the bag was bulging and started pushing. My midwife arranged me in many different positions to push. I started out squatting using the squat bar, then I went on my right side, left side and hands and knees. The baby had descended only so far and then wouldn't come down any more. We discovered that she was face up and my 2.5 hours of pushing was not making any progress.

By this point I was getting pretty discouraged. I prayed and screamed "get out, get out, get out!" in my head with every push. In a last stitch effort at a vaginal delivery my midwife suggested that I get an epidural and we'd see if the baby would turn with just the contractions pushing on her instead of me getting the urge to push every minute.

The epidural was a welcome rest after such a long interlude of pushing. Before being anesthetized, a nurse asked me how bad the pain was on a scale of 1-10. The question confused me somewhat and I said, "uh, 6 or 7 maybe?" It seemed like the wrong question to ask. The contractions didn't feel painful to me (just pressure) until the epidural numbed half of my body and I felt them on only one side. It felt good to just lay there and rest awhile, watching the ceiling tiles. The only terrible thing about being anesthetized was that the epidural caused me to shake uncontrollably and I had some bad heartburn which no one would give me medicine for.

We waited a couple of hours letting my body contract. When I was checked again, the baby still hadn't come down any further. I pushed a little bit with the epidural and there was nothing happening. We decided that it was time to prep for surgery. That part is somewhat whirlwind. I was so ready to hold my baby at that point!

The surgery went off without a hitch with a doctor who had super nice eyebrows. The doctor pulled out my face-up, chunky baby! I wasn't able to hold Cara right when she came out because I was shaking so terribly, but I could see her being weighed, etc. and then Oliver held her right next to me. After I was stitched up they wheeled me to recovery and I nursed baby Cara (who is a nursing champ, by the way)!

I felt so incredibly grateful to have all of the kind doctors and nurses attend to us at the hospital. I do feel a little disappointed that I couldn't give birth naturally like I wanted, but I gave it a good shot and it just wasn't God's will for this baby! We are so excited to have her home with us and I am grateful to be healing up nicely from the c-section.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Everything Beautiful

This line of Scripture has been bumping around in my head for a few weeks:

From Pinterest...sorry!
I don't feel as though I have the ability to clearly express what I want to say, but here's a sampling. 

This Scripture floated to the forefront of my mind today as I prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary. I am 37 weeks pregnant and patiently awaiting the arrival of the baby. I'm looking forward to holding her in my arms but also a little fearful of labor, and newborn exhaustion, and how Lillian's schedule will change, and whether or not my husband will hate me when we start practicing NFP again. I find it all too easy to get wrapped into the fear. I start micromanaging situations trying to be in control. God always reminds me, "surrender."

Take labor, for instance. I said the first time that the hardest part of labor actually was not knowing how long it would last. The mystery here is not something I can change by force of will. My only option is surrendering to the process, embracing the suffering and beauty that it offers in each little moment as it presents itself and trusting that things will unfurl in God's good time. I hope I can keep my mind focused on the present as I labor with Baby Cara Elizabeth Jane. 

I have been reading a book called Mindful Birthing which has helped me see some of this. There is nothing explicitly Christian in this book, but it really speaks to embracing the sensations in the moment and letting the natural process proceed without fear. I can't read something like that without reflecting on the way I should abandon myself to Divine Providence at every moment of my life, even when things don't go according to my idea of perfection. He has made everything beautiful in its time! Alleluia! 

I enjoyed reading these two blog posts today:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Today's Scripture and Baby Update

I feel as though I write the same post over and over. Apparently this is my lesson for the year and I keep refusing to learn it. Writing it down helps me remember. For awhile.

Today's Scripture reading that bit me and refused to let go:

"Lend expecting nothing back."

I've been trudging along in the spiritual life for the last several months, barely making any progress (at least from my POV). Slacking in prayer. Distracted. Discouraged. Making it to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and confessing the same sin, yet again. Resentment. I find myself once again trying to be a good wife, a good mother. Feeling unloved and trying to earn my husband's love by doing all the things perfectly. And not measuring up, defeated again. I get into this same rut from time to time, but it seems the answer to my feelings of not receiving my due are laid bare in the Gospel today. There it's referring to money, but in my heart I know that God is asking me not to be miserly with my love. I need to keep giving knowing full well that I may receive nothing back, if only for the knowledge that such is pleasing to God. My ears have also been ringing when I hear talk of forgiveness, and I think God is telling me to continually forgive my husband of the little hurts instead of letting them build into a wall of hurt which keeps me from trusting him. Seriously, the man is clueless.

Moving on!

I think we have settled on a moniker for the baby we're expecting to make an appearance outside the womb sometime in early November! I'm torn between plain old Cara Elizabeth and the slightly jazzier Cara Elizabeth Jane. I've never thought much about using a double middle name before, but this one has the advantage of honoring my Saints Elizabeth (here and here) and the Jane that my mom and I bear. Plus Pride and Prejudice. I see no drawbacks. Oliver thinks it's weird, but I'll be the one filling out hospital forms with her name on it. We'll see!

I have been furiously working on a baby blanket for Ms. C.E. which is coming along nicely. Nicely was a huge understatement. I nearly salivate over the delicious color combination every time I look at the thing and cannot wait until I can add a scrappy binding to the edges. Here is a picture which poorly reflects the beauty in real life:

Saturday, August 2, 2014

He's Worth It

"We're called to be faithful to our vocations, even if nobody else seems remotely interested in our work, thoughts, sacrifices, lives. It's difficult to feel marginalized and unrecognized, but what's really hard, as you're unrecognized, is to recognize and support someone else." - Heather King

I like to think of my life as wife and mother as a vocation, but in reality I didn't give God a chance to call me into it. I was already a wife when I converted. The first child was conceived a mere month after I was received into the church, maybe as a natural consequence of giving life back to God. In the tough times I sometimes wonder whether I would have been called into this same marriage to this same man had I been consciously Catholic sooner, with an eager ear searching for God whispers. In the good times I'm glad things have worked out this way.

For a few days I have fought (again, sigh) that loneliness that attends a mixed-faith marriage. I've been thinking ahead to vacation next week and wondering whether it will be a fight when I want to go to Mass on Saturday evening like it was last time we went on vacation. Wondering how I will handle confusing post-partum NFP with a partner who pressures to contracept. Are all these little skirmishes worth it? My husband has begun to mellow on the issue of religion, so it seems that maybe these little squabbles have accomplished something. It's still a temptation to give up and just seek indifferent peace.

And yet we're called to be faithful to our vocations, regardless of our struggles. I do see the loneliness as a gift at times (this was a fantastic read on the subject). When I start feeling nervous and frazzled it's usually because I've made an idol of my husband and I am seeking his approval rather than pleasing God.

All the struggles become worth it when I remember who I converted for. The who in the Eucharist. The who who wept and who was persecuted. I did not convert only to make myself feel good, I converted to give myself to Him who tells me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow him. I ought to ask myself more often, "is He worth it?" He is.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thoughts on Edel

1. One of my favorite moments of the weekend: I was sitting with some ladies in the corner of the cocktails and crazy shoes party chatting cheerily about a few subjects and someone said, "I felt like I should've gone to Confession before I got on the plane." And someone else said, "me, too!" And I thought the same thing about getting into the car. And none of us felt like a weirdo for thinking about Confession like that. It was a little surreal! The scene underscored the entire basis of the weekend and the crux of Jen's talk: you are not alone!

2. I probably had a somewhat different experience of the event than some of the capital "B" bloggers out there. I didn't have any online friends to meet up with. That is, I read a lot of blogs and feel an affinity for the women whose blogs I read, but they don't know me. It makes for a somewhat celebrity experience which is a little jarring. I was so disconcerted by the feeling that I failed to meet any of them face to face, but I can tell you that they exist in real life and don't just live in the computer.

3. I loved Hallie's introductory talk about planning the event and her Holy Spirit moments, especially when she said God wanted us to know, "It is good that you are here." I am indeed pregnant, but I would have gotten teary eyed at that moment even if I wasn't. I remember reading Jen's post about Edel on her blog, and I got chills reading it. My heart froze and I started shaking. I had no doubt that I was going to this conference with my friend, Emily. Then I got to the bottom and read the price of entry. My heart sunk. I couldn't dream of how I could find over $200 to make that happen. When the sale date approached, my husband received an unexpected bonus at work and told me, "why don't you take $200 and spend it however you want." That was my Holy Spirit moment! 

4. Another Holy Spirit moment? Sure, if you insist! I won a vendor raffle of a kitchen decoration with a little recipe clip that says, "Everything is Grace" - St. Therese. I consider it a Holy Spirit moment because since January (remember this?) I had that quote written on a chalkboard in my kitchen, and only just erased it about a week ago. I guess I'd taken it down prematurely!

5. I couldn't summarize Marion's, Haley's and Jen's talks if I had to, but they were all truly touching and they all elicited the tears. I would love to hear them all over again.

6. Being at Edel made me identify some areas in myself that need to be addressed, especially self esteem issues. I was just thinking that my underlying assumptions about myself are that I am utterly forgettable and that I have nothing to offer anyone and am only a bother. Clearly, those need to go! When I enunciate them consciously I can identify them as obviously wrong, but I need to work on consciously thinking differently when those types of thoughts bite at my hems. Hey, exposing these things to the light is the first step, right?

7. Which leads me to: St. Martha the Dragonslayer. She sounds like a veritable bad-ass, doesn't she? A far cry from the Martha Jesus rebuked, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious about many things..." who we all know so well. Every woman at Edel drew a saint medal out of a hat, and mine was Saint Martha, just in time for her feast day today! The story goes that Martha was wandering place to place during the time of Christian persecution and came upon a pagan village plagued by a dragon. The villagers told her that they would believe in the Gospel if she could vanquish the dragon. She subdued it with the sign of the cross, brought it back to the village on a leash and then killed it. I love Fr. Barron's explanation of the story's metaphorical meaning: "we can understand the dragon as a metaphor for all that is dark within ourselves, that dark power that consumes our goodness and life and makes us lose hope and succumb to fear. Martha, Christ-like in her sanctity is our friend and intercessor as we confront the dark powers within." Perfect, right! Read the rest here.

8. It was awesome to spend time with my college friend, Emily who I've known for 10 years now (we are getting old!). Usually when our families get together, she and I take care of the babies while the men go out and do manly beer things. It was so, so nice to be able to really talk to her again without the frequent interruptions that taking care of toddlers invites!

9. When I got home, Lillian was sitting in Oliver's lap contentedly watching Yo Gabba Gabba on the computer with a bow in her hair. Clearly, she had a good time with her daddy and he was able to prove himself in acts of valor comprised of changing dirty diapers, putting baby to bed, loading the dishwasher and other domestic tasks! Go Ollie!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bookmark: Fr. Ronald Rolheiser

"If we take seriously that prayer is 'lifting mind and heart to God,' then every feeling and every thought we have is a valid and apt entry into prayer, no matter how irreverent, unholy, selfish, sexual, or angry that thought or feeling might seem." - Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, Prayer: Our Deepest Longing.