Monday, December 26, 2016

A year in review: 2016

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
I visited the Biltmore in Asheville. I found an mixed alcoholic drink that I liked on my own account, a chocolate martini. And I just remembered we fostered 5 dogs and 3 rabbits this year, we had never had a pet as a family before.
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I was supposed to write letters to people. I did write letters, though I probably didn't do one each month like intended, I did write letters.  I also picked up knitting again after a long break of not knitting. 
3. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?
Hanging out with the kids and husband putting together a puzzle watching TV. I'm very lame, and I like it that way. 
I4. Did anyone close to you die? Did anyone give birth?
This was a year of death, so much death, and it was sad.  We lost a baby at 13 weeks, Noel Constantine.  And then my paternal grandmother died on my 9th wedding anniversary. And then my husband's maternal grandmother died in November. 
As for births, there were a decent amount of them, most notably a nephew was born in November and then a good friends double rainbow baby was born in October. The list could go on, and even though we lost our baby, I'm so very thankful for the new life in these babies that were born.  There is always room for more babies and the joy they bring.
5. What countries did you visit ? Did I travel this year?
I hemmed and hawed about actually taking a vacation post miscarriage, I was really still struggling with a lot of things with just living, but we decided to go through with our vacation to Asheville, NC, Nashville, TN and Cincinnati, OH. It was overall good to go, but it made me remember also why I like where we live too. 
6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Less hurt. More joy. 
7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May 12, the day I delivered Noel.  July 14, the day my grandmother died.
8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year?
I climbed all the stairs of Terminal Tower in Cleveland. 
9. What was your biggest failure?
I never finished knitting a sweater I started making for my daughter because I messed up the one sleeve really terribly. 
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Well, I lost a baby and that felt like injury. I also have had an extremely rough time with this current pregnancy in that my left leg won't let me function or walk like I am used to doing.  
11. What was the best thing you bought?
A six month pass for 6 full body massages. That's helped a ton with stress of the madness of the year.
12. Where did most of your money go?
Medical bills and paying for new doors for the house. 
13. What song will always remind you of 2016?
I think Soldiers by the Rocket Summer
14. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Swimming in the summer. I was in a funk for most of the summer that I don't remember enjoying it like I should have.
15. What do you wish you’d done less of?
16. What was your favorite new TV program?
This is Us.  It makes me cry and smile and laugh.  A good program for sure. 
17. Do you love anyone now that you didn’t love this time last year?
I think two people.  Noel and baby girl Kurak #2. 
18. What was the best book you read?
The Awakening of Miss Prim
19. What item of clothing did I wear the most?
Full length compression stockings, and maternity leggings. I am completely 100% pro leggings at this point.
20. What was your favorite film of this year?
Inside Out
21. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
My husband cooked a meal for me, a modified thanksgiving dinner. I also went out with friends for a meal a bit later. I turned 33. 
22. What kept you sane?
Prayer, knitting, friends especially Sarah.
23. Who did you miss?
The obvious would be my grandmother and my baby. But I think also my friend Janelle. 
24. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned..
I think just life is really, really hard at times, and I think what I learned is that I am so thankful that God gave me my husband to stand by my side in these hard times. I also learned that I wasn't crazy on some things where I though I was, and so I think maybe to trust your gut but also to take care of yourself because if you don't then you can't help others very well. And lastly that death is part of life, and its a very unpredictable thing. 
25. What pictures best represent 2015?


Monday, December 12, 2016

A girl

Last week it was confirmed that we were having another girl at an OB check up. I had thought many times before that this baby was a girl.  It felt a bit like my previous girl pregnancy, full of emotion and just many other weird things that seem to go along with a girl pregnancy and me.

As you may recall my one grandmother died this past July and it hit like a ton of bricks because it was loss followed by loss for me and out of any of my grandparents, she was the one whom of which I was closest. Just a few days prior to her death I had an inkling that I was pregnant and took a test and found out I was. But everything in my head was such a mess and I was just in grief it was hard to focus.

One day though, I blurted out that if this baby was a girl, that I really wanted to name it after my grandmother.  But to me that was just a thought, and though it was a nice one, I didn't think it would come to fruition.

Fast forward to November, where yet another grandmother died, this time Keith's maternal grandmother, it felt like something was lining up. I went to my monthly appointment at the OB to check on things and well, baby at the time wanted us to wait a bit longer to see boy or girl. So deflated I went home, knowing that he or she was healthy but nothing else.

And then December came, and I got another chance at one of my last OB appointments before I officially made the switch to my old midwife for a home birth.  I needed some extra reassurance this pregnancy due to the later miscarriage last time and so, I chose to do co-care with an OB. It meant more appointments, but also I think it helped me see that last time didn't define this pregnancy. I asked this time if we could find out if this was a boy or girl, and the OB said that we could take a look.  And girl it was.

And so it comes back to the name. I know most people think through names a lot, and I am one of those people with the distinction that I like Saint names to be part of my children's names.  I didn't have this as a protestant growing up and it feels like its one thing that maybe my kids will have that will help them to remind them that they are not alone in this life and they can ask their namesakes to pray for them.

Thinking about girl #2's name, made me think about girl #1's name. Girl #1 for us is Helena Perpetua. Oddly enough without me knowing it and it slipped dear husband's memory that on top of having saint namesakes, she also has a great grandmother she's shares a name with, Helen. Some providential naming happening or coincidental affinities to names at the least.

When approaching girl #2, Keith and I have agreed we want to honor our grandmothers that passed away this past year, and it just feels right to do so. This means that baby girl #2 would have two middle names, and I think that's kind of fun though maybe tricky legally.  A side note is that I have one more living grandmother, and as odd or maybe not odd, her first and middle name is a combination of the other two grandmothers names. So not that it was completely planned out to be so, but it seems to be lining up as so. The only thing is we feel its good for her to have part of her name be her own and so we aren't just going to take the two middles and make one be a first. Instead she will have our picked out first Saint name. So two legacy middle names (Saints as well) it is and it seems just about right.

Now, as to what they are, well, that you will have to wait for to find out...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

To be me, broken and all.

I've been a bit restless these past few weeks, especially last night.  I didn't fall asleep until 3am. I couldn't shut my brain down enough to sleep.  And this is not always the case, but usually is something that comes when something big has happened.

I know many techniques of calming myself down, and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't because I can overpower that if something is really affecting me so much. In some ways, I find this helpful because it helps me to realize that I need to take time to process and can't just get by anymore.

And that's where I'm at. A lot has happened since Thanksgiving, and its fascinating and terrifying and challenging all at once. I finally spoke up about something that has plagued me for years. With it players played just so in a way that I knew I was no longer crazy.  That this needed to be done and I need to break to be changed.  I couldn't keep it together anymore, and that hadn't been happening for a while, I also couldn't be silent anymore. Because the silence was making me feel misunderstood.  Not that I'm ever understood, but anyway. So I wrote a letter saying how things were.

And I felt at peace doing that, but now I feel like I'm waiting and am in this weird place that if I started something I would just be pulled back into the painful disfunction. But now I'm sitting her questioning motives and trying to see where to go next and it just feel big. Like I recently noticed that to be an authority, I feel like I'm being mean every time. And I'm thinking this comes from not being assertive in my life until now. But how do you figure out if you are being mean or assertive when you have only known how to bend over backward not to make someone blow up in your face about something? It makes the whole Christianity bits of being our brother's keepers and watching out for one another be messy things in your mind.  Because enabling isn't helping, or watching out for someone even if it appears that way from the outside. And setting boundaries against hurt isn't blaming someone its taking ownership that this is more than you can handle.

Maybe, though, maybe its not my job to predict someone's reaction. And maybe that's where I'm struggling.  I still want to accommodate someone else's reaction, which I can't do.  I feel very selfish in saying that I need to think of only what I'm trying to communicate, but maybe that's not selfish?  Maybe, its just that I'm skewed in my thinking that I perceive it this way.

One more thing, in a way, I have been thinking that it would be nice to have things work well already. To lament that this is terrible and just be angry, but maybe, I just need to be in this brokenness. That this is where I'm going to see Jesus right now. That this is where I can feel his love, not in the perfect but in the imperfect.  And maybe there will be growth there as well.  One day it would be nice to be able to look back and see this as something that I can be an advocate for that one can get through this, but I'm not there yet, and that's got to be okay too.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Seasons of Life Reflection

I think a lot of folks were disappointed in the Gilmore Girls revival because nothing happened with the character development in the main two characters.  And while, yes this was true. On the other hand it was almost fitting, there was never a strong undercurrent in the value of relationship.  Instead there was a lot of use of another person instead of seeing them as human. I've been thinking about relationships a lot lately, and its hard to live them. Sometimes you have to step away and sometimes you really have to step outside your comfort zone to grow.

Currently in a main relationship of mine I've had to step away from it, I haven't figured out how to have this relationship and not be in constant pain from it.  Its a complicated one and while I wish it was better its not and its hard and feels so slow in how it is to be made better.  But I guess this is one way that I feel as if I differ from Rory or Lorelai, though a lot of times I feel like Lorelai and relate more to her than Rory any day. But the thing is that I am trying to make progress in my own self, because I know now there is no way that I can change the situation at hand except to do that, but progress is slow.

One thing I liked in watching Seasons was that at the very end it did feel like Lorelai and her mother were in a better place, something I hope for myself someday with my relationship I had to step away from currently.  In the end of season 7 of the original series, it felt like Lorelai was able to understand and relate better to her dad, but it wasn't until the end of this series that I felt she was able to speak to her mom and not feel like she had to defend herself.  A lot of times Lorelai is stuck as her 16 year old self in her maturity because, well, something traumatic did happen to her then and psychologically that does happen a lot to people. And honestly that does bug me at times.  It feels like she's never really dealt with her issues and carries them everywhere.  But a lot of us do this.  I know we want to say we don't, but there are definitely times when we do, especially if we don't recognize that we are doing so because a lot of other things are going well.

That is why to me, I was okay with Lorelai being where she was, I mean her lifestyle and values are different than mine, me being a practicing Catholic, her being an agnostic perhaps.  But I think the humanity seen in her and that things sometimes take time to make progress, I think I liked that bit.  And not that the writers were trying to accomplish this at all, but to me it was a reminder to trust in the slow work of God, or at least what seems slow to us in this world were we can get anything material we want in a snipet of time for the right price. But don't let me start on Rory, she is a whole different kind of non progress brought to you by many things I haven't had the fortunate "privilege" like her to become so.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

And what comes next

As I sit here a little over 15 weeks pregnant, I feel like I should tell the story of that.  Well not the actual story, but just what life has been in this state.

You see this baby surprised me.  I hadn't gotten a normal cycle back yet and well in my thinking I was still heavily grieving and there wasn't any way that I could be pregnant again so fast. My last miscarriage took the better part of 6 months for my body to recover from and silly me thought this one was going to be longer, but apparently this isn't the case and well, God had different plans for me. So two months after miscarrying little Noel, I found myself surprise pregnant. And honestly I wondered if it was just hormones playing with me, so I took more than one pregnancy test on different days, because I honestly just didn't feel ready and I was a bit mad and more so scared out of my mind.  I couldn't bare another loss.  I just was shocked a bit too.

A few days after finding out, my grandmother (my dad's mom) died, and it was not pretty.  I was mad at myself for not calling her back ever after losing Noel.  I had gotten her a card but never sent it. I was scared about having to see my family at such a vulnerable time. So I went and I hid and didn't really talk to anyone, because I couldn't and to me that had to be okay.  That was all I could do. But knowing I was pregnant I was already hoping for a girl, someone I could name after my dear grandmother.  She really was the only grandparent that I ever knew in a deeper level, and I just wanted to do something in her memory.

I came back to my life from that trip and I just wanted to hide, hide and hide.  I wasn't ready for this pregnancy overall and I sure wasn't ready to discuss it with every passing person.  And granted being pregnant was way more obvious to me than to the outside world, I felt like I didn't want to be seen as there was a chance someone would know. My body on the other hand knew it was pregnant and didn't let me forget with extreme heartburn and carpal tunnel and racing heart and varicose veins and exhaustion.  And because I was where I was in grieving and in pregnancy it was hard to tell what was from what.  My husband has been a trooper thru this all and has helped me when I needed help and has done more than his share of late night runs for food cravings and comforting during cry sessions over life.

Being pregnant post loss is scary, especially a loss that was later than any other loss before because you realize how much you are not in control of any outcome.  That you just have to take a day at a time because God is the only one with a say in how long we get with our kids. And this is so very hard to do, because we hope for the best.  We imagine the future of holding a baby and yet you know maybe that's not going to happen.  Instead you may only get to know them through photos or kicks or just a glimpse of a positive pregnancy test.  And it is so very hard and I don't wish it on anyone. I had a first trimester full of intense anxiety and parts of it have lingered.  I hate waking up in the middle of the night because I can have flashbacks of going to the bathroom and finding I had bled so badly and was miscarrying. They are less now at 15 weeks then they were at before the same chronological time of my last loss, but its this eerie reminder that it happened and I would have hoped for a different outcome but now I'm here.

And that day and night have come and went in this pregnancy and it ended up low key and not dramatic at all those few days, and I am so very thankful for that.  So maybe I will get to hold a baby at the end of this pregnancy, and I pray and hope for that, but if that's not the plan, well I'm trying to remember I'm still in God's hands. One of the reassuring things that God has done for me when I so very needed it is when I was in the church and closed my eyes, I saw this image of Him carrying me in his arms like a sleeping child. Something I so very needed. Because I felt like the only thing I really was keeping on with was God's grace and it just felt like a perfect reminder to me of that. So on those hard days I remember this and pray for me to recognize his grace, and somehow I have pulled through each time so far.

So I'm here now at 15 weeks 1 day and praying to feel a baby kicking in the next few weeks. I'm still apprehensive a bit, but becoming more and more excited.  Some days, I still want to hide, but its less of that and more of okay I'm here now, and God thinks I can do this, so help me God to see that I can do this.

Thank-you for listening to my story.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Joy in the child

As Mother Teresa was canonized yesterday, the quote of hers that came to mind was the following:

“How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.” -St. Mother Teresa

I have always loved this quote, but struggled with it too. However, there is truth here, and I am learning to live it daily. 

When I was pregnant with Noel, I struggled so much with what others might think of a fourth child.  I know I shouldn't have let it bug me, but I did.  There were some people that I still let into influence my thinking at the time that weren't positive about another child.  And in fact sometimes weren't really positive about the ones I already had.  Honestly, this type of thinking stemmed way back to 10 years ago when I was engaged to my now husband, and I'm sure even before. You see, I let in counsel to someone I trusted, and the one objection to me converting to Catholicism along with marrying my husband was that, "those Catholics, they just have so many children." I didn't have the background that celebrated children as always being a gift, instead they were financial burdens or things to fit in to a narcissistic life. 

But Noel, despite my internal battle was a gift, a true gift in so many ways.  I remember the time I told my students about him and just the absolute joy they had in celebrating a new life was amazing. I don't think I'll ever forget that day because honestly, I don't think I've ever experienced that much joy from someone else about something/someone in my life.  It really was eye opening. 

And then as I sometimes struggle with my kids and their well, being kid like, I was upset about something that my one son did in the presence of another teacher.  Later talking with that teacher he recanted it in a positive manner, one which again celebrated the life the gift that the child was instead of a sum of his faults. 

Recently, a dear friend kept witnessing my crying so much at church this past summer, because for some reason the Holy Spirit just brings the tears there, the much needed tears. She gave me a note and a dear little painted heart shaped rock, with the words "Jesus wept". Oh so appropriate words they were and are. My friend remembered my dear little baby, this baby that only was with us for so long.  My friend didn't judge one bit about timing or family size, but loved and saw that I loved, and for this I am so grateful. 

You see, I think to this point I didn't think that there really was a place where every life could be really celebrated in its entirety. I was broken and couldn't see it, I couldn't see it in the people around me, I instead always felt judged or judged myself.  I think its odd to say that death has brought an understanding of joy, but yet somehow I think it is so for me.  I think seeing people have authentic joy over life has been one of many lessons little Noel has fruitfully taught me. And in that joy, I feel like I can finally understand more about gratitude. And while I know there is thanks in the suffering, I think the thanks in the joy, this, this has been missing for me, and I am so very grateful to be learning this now. 

There is more, but I will save that for another time. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016


I was driving home from visiting a friend today with the kids when I saw the cemetery and decided that I needed to visit. I was supposed to visit yesterday but didn't.  So at the last moment I got off at the exit and went. There was a new monument right in front of Noel's grave, a crucifix, and no it wasn't for Noel. I honestly don't know the reason its there yet, but it seemed fitting.  I went today and cried yet again, and none of the kids wanted to visit today so I left the hang out by the car. But it was good to be there alone, even if my attention was divided.

You see there are little things, little moments that sometimes give me glimpses of grace and other times they are bits of sufferings. Both, well both share in Jesus, and thats grief journey I'm on, both part of my cross as I was reminded today on my visit.

My oldest in his 6 year old grief has basically uttered one sentiment for his lost sibling. He didn't get to know what he liked.  And if I sit with this for a minute, I tear up, because in his limited understanding of life and death, he understands so much. It is sad that we didn't get to know him, and while I am glad to have an intercessor in heaven, I am sad about not knowing him too.

A few weeks ago a friend and I were able to have dinner and chat and she theorized that maybe so many Catholics end up with miscarriages because they need intercessors to help them get through this life as a Catholic. A while I'm not sure about the theology of it all, I do know that I do have two intercessors in heaven now, and as I thought about it today, I realized just how hard it really is at times and how much of a grace it is to have people in heaven praying for our family.

Because I had traveled this road before, I struggled with knowing that I had to go through all that losing a child entails yet again.  At times it seems harder, but other times, its odd and it feels like maybe its a grace pause.  Like for so long I have been working on either being working towards something or being afraid of a new life coming too soon, that this time where I know I can't do anything about it, I get to step back and see what's in front of me in a new light.

So whether it be that I am reminded of losing Noel through my hair falling out or other effects of my hormones, I'm thankful that I got to know him and love him for as long as I did.  I already think he's interceding and making me stronger and for that I'm thankful.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Two weeks later

I'm still sad.  I still don't get to bring a live baby home, but life has returned to its normal amount of chaos at least for the children. Driving is hard if I'm by myself, because by myself, I think and I sob.

This week we got the pathology report and learned it was a placenta separation issue, and that sent me spiraling for a bit.  I want to say that I won't have this fear of a repeat next time around if there is a next time but I know somewhere it will be there.

Some things that are different now, heat doesn't bother me like it would if I was pregnant. I get to teach a full class of chemistry next fall. I may consider starting Ephraim with kindergarten this year since he's a borderline birthday and he's interested anyway.  I don't feel pressured by myself to give up nursing the toddler.  She nurses minimally, but somehow that is comforting.  Someone is still growing by me.

I think that this tragedy is helping me to figure out boundaries a bit more.  I realize I'm vulnerable and I need to turn off the people who could hurt me right now.  The people that think I need to be all better now or not be sad, the people that need to explain instead of just sitting and listening or just being there.

I'm thankful for this greater sense of church that has come about in this whole experience.  As a convert who came with a lot of baggage, this sense that people can actually be there for you is amazing.  The fact that people actually care about you and pray for you and send you cards and meals and will take your kids for the day because you can't figure out life, its just really good. It makes the hurt and loss just a little more bearable. Thank-you all.

And lastly, I think because this whole experience brings up all the feelings from 7 years ago when I lost my first baby who we named Edmund where I miscarried in a stadium bathroom. I'm thankful that I have a place to go visit Noel and be still. I need that. There's a lot of chaos in my mind still but going there helps me to know that God is watching out for me and for my little family.

So I sift and I wait and I pray to trust in the slow work of God, because that is what is going to get me through.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Bury the dead

I definitely didn't think I would be doing this particular act of mercy in this year of mercy, to bury the dead.  And yet somehow I am.  And maybe, maybe this feels like a bit, because well it was just a little baby, not more than 3-4 inches long. Just a little over 13 weeks along when he was delivered. I delivered him and saw him, this little tiny person, so beautiful so st peace, so unaware of the turmoil constantly inside his mama's head. So, this what I need to do, what our family needs to do.  Because this little one, even though so little was already so loved.  And I can't imagine it any other way. Tomorrow, we bury him.  We named him Noel. Our little Noel Kurak, we love you so much.

St. Noel Chabanel was man that struggled with so many things as an early settler to North America. He couldn't handle the new environment very well, and yet he knew he was there, and he didn't know if his circumstances would change any time soon, so he decided to follow the will of God anyway, even though it was tough.  Oddly he said this and then was martyred the next day, but he didn't know that was going to happen.

Somehow this reminds me of our little saint now in heaven. Because for a long time on the inside I was grappling with this pregnancy, some things were said to me that were like a knife in my heart, and so I wasn't wanting to shout with joy that I was carrying new life, and so I kept coming back to this Saint, because he was in tough times but saw God's greater hand at work. I'm not sure I ever really came to grips with everything 100% before tragedy struck, but I think that's gotta be okay. It's where I was at, God was there with me in my struggle. And maybe that's what I need to see in this overall,  in this loss of a life that I never get to see grow up.  God is here, even if I don't understand it.  Even if its painful and sad and is long and is going to take a lot of time to heal, he is here. And because he is here, I can do his will.

And so tomorrow we bury our son, so little, so loved, so precious to us. I don't want to be doing this, I want to still be growing a baby, but this is God's will for me, for our family, and I am going to find him in the sadness of it all.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Sadness part 1

I think to say I'm sad feels just not enough. There's this whole sense of vulnerability and rawness and its just so very hard. I don't think I even want to put a name with it, but just to know its there.

This year was already hard enough, Helena was diagnosed with an extra membrane near one of her aorta heart valves and just coming to terms with that was enough.  You see the week I found out I was pregnant was the same week I also had to bear the heaviness of my kid maybe not being okay.  There was a lot of emotion, happy and sad.

And then this week happened. I was not warned by anything. I was nearing 13 weeks and I was just beginning to tell people about a baby coming. I was thinking it was okay to do that and not have to untell everyone just a few days later.  I thought I was going to meet my fourth live baby healthy and happy come this November.

 I woke up on Tuesday night with blood soaked underwear, but felt nothing, there was no warning sign of anything being wrong.  Yes Monday had been a rough day, but we all have those. Last time I miscarried it started with a little trickle and then got worse.  This time wasn't like that.  I felt fine and pregnant going to bed but that changed. I don't even know how to write the next part, except to say that there was sadness and flashbacks and me calling a friend, and Keith calling the midwife.  She was so calm and said if I wasn't in any pain I could wait till morning to get checked out.

I cried a lot that night, I texted friends who I thought would listen. One happened to be up in the middle of the night and was kind and listened. I couldn't talk, but I wrote.  I cancelled appointments and called off work because at least one thing had changed, and unlike last time where I tried to go on and ignore everything, I knew that I couldn't this time. So I didn't.

I called the midwife, and for a bit because of how the bleeding was she wasn't convinced it was a miscarriage, but she thought at the very least I needed to go in and see an OB to get Rhogam due to my Rh negative blood and having a significant blood loss and hopefully he would give us good news with a ultrasound.  So as soon as his office opened I called and I got a standing appointment for that afternoon with knowing that we would be waiting since we were last minute.

There was a lot of not knowing what to do with myself.  A friend came over and brought food with her knowing I probably didn't eat and she was right, I didn't.  Food never appeals to me when life is rough. She sat with my while her kids played with my kids, it was nice.  And then another friend just happened to be in the area that day and said she would come over to babysit the kids when we needed to go to our appointment, she didn't have anything pressing and just wanted to help.

And you guys, that's the one thing that I feel that God was there.  Because lately, when I'm struggling, I remind myself that God is there in that moment. That I'm not alone, and at this moment I could feel God's presence in the way that people were willing to come and help and be there for us.

So we went to the appointment, and it was a bit of a drive to this particular doctor, and the one thing that kept coming to my mind was that I couldn't will this away.  That no matter what, the outcome would be the outcome and while I was hoping that it was just a bleed from the placenta lifting, I had no idea what we would find out.

The OB came in and he was really kind and funny, and oddly he brought in two med students with him that day too, and at this point I've come to not care about those things, but I'm sure it was awkward for them, since I would think for the most part they haven't experienced the ups and downs of being in the field yet. But the doctor, he was really nice and just had a comforting presence.

As soon as he did the ultrasound, he was sad to say that he didn't have good news. He instead had to tell us our baby died and it looked like it died a few days before.  There was no heartbeat and it had stopped growing. Even though at this point my heart already had some sadness, at this point my heart offiically broke.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Divine Mercy

This year has been all about mercy.  I mean it was declared the Year of Mercy by the Pope, there was a book on Divine Mercy that two lovely ladies put out that is a must read that I got a chance to check out earlier this year. And then there was the constant reminders whether in penance or spiritual direction to carry out mercy. That hasn't been a bad thing either. Mercy is an awesome thing. So when Divine Mercy Sunday came around and a friend recommended seeing the film The Original Image of Divine Mercy, I have it a second thought and ultimately went for it dragging my husband along to see it.  The history in the movie was really good, the subtitling could use some spell check and we could have done without the celebrities or at least let them really speak, but overall it was a good story to watch. I especially liked that you could see how in it Jesus and his mercy could not die, despite human efforts to do so, the hope of Jesus lived on even if by a small number of people.  That was a pretty powerful thing to watch. 

The whole time I was watching the movie, in the back of my mind I was contemplating what divine mercy really was. You see, I struggle with things like pure definitions and hardly ever accept them as is.  I mean I've spent hours trying to understand grace, I think I have it to something I understand, but I still think about it at times. Mercy is no different.  I think partially it may be because of my upbringing and there being different vocabulary for things.  I began to think about why mercy is so hard for my head to wrap around, and I came to conclude that its because its so vast, and while we carry out our little part, God's part in it so big it maybe isn't something we can put in words. In my feeble words it would be to be forgiven when we don't deserve it. Perhaps a free pass. 

And then it made contemplate what this would be in my upbringing, my protestant one.  Because while not having divine mercy, the all encompassing thing, there is a sense of mercy.  And to me that would come in when a person has that first come to Jesus moment, because there is that belief that once Jesus comes in to your life that all your sins are forgiven. So in turn this would for sure be a moment of mercy.  The difference then between Catholic theology and the protestant theology is that for Catholics, this isn't a one time deal.  We at least should recognize that we are in constant need of God's mercy, because we are that much infiltrated by our human weaknesses that causes us to screw up and sin. 

So its not that protestants don't have mercy in their vocabulary, they do.  Its just that its viewed differently.  And I think one of the really appealing things to me about Catholicism and perhaps one of there reasons it makes people feel uncomfortable, is that we understand that it is a constant battle between grace and pride. And that when that pride wins we need to run to the arms of Jesus over and over to receive that mercy and start anew. I remember in converting that protestants were worried about me becoming a bad Christian in being Catholic, and to that I say if relying on and recognizing the need of God's infinite mercy is being a bad Christian, then I am guilty.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Nursing Update: 25 months

It's been a little while since I think I've done a nursing update with Lena, so I thought I would do just that. Currently, we are still nursing, but the volume has decreased drastically.  We had a nasty bout with mastitis that somehow motivated me to start weaning.  Or maybe it was that she was over 2 and she was showing signs that she could handle it too. But there's nothing like the flu like symptoms of mastitis to make you reevaluate how things are going.

So currently we nurse only 2 to 3 sessions per day.  One at the beginning of nap,  one at bed time and the other may happen at wake up for the day like it did today, or in the middle of the night or in a moment where its just needed.  But to go from 8ish nursing sessions to this feels like a different life, and a different baby.

And she is a different baby, or toddler rather.  She used to not be able to sleep in her own bed very well, but sandwiched between her brothers in her new room it seems to be going better, its not fool proof and at times she does wake up, but it seems more and more that if she does, she just finds her way over to my room and bed and curls up next to me not insisting to nurse. This is so different from how she was the first two years of life, I'm not even sure what to say.  But the curling up next to me, I find endearing, because she is definitely still snuggly and that it doesn't come with any other expectations than that I can handle that.

I want to say her appetite is better with decreased nursing, but I have to say its still about the same. Honestly, I think at least all my toddlers are just toddlers about food, sometimes they eat it sometimes they don't.  The one thing is she does seem to finally like cow's milk.  So that's at least something different.

She's able to be comforted now just by touch and this is really nice as well.  That screaming 20 month old that would not except anything but nursing is no longer here, and in some ways I'm sad, but in some ways I'm glad to be through this stage as it makes taking her places a bit more manageable.

And that is where we are at, still nursing at 25 months, but much less and so it feels weaning has begun if only by circumstance and a little bit of maturity on her part.

Other nursing updates
More about Nursing, Dear Lena

Nursing My Toddler

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

On Ben's 6th Birthday

Dear Ben,

Wow! You are six.  Sometimes I'm amazed we made it this far and kept you alive and well this long. You are my oldest kiddo and I know with that comes a lot of me making mistakes with how to do things with you.  I'm extra grateful for the mercy and grace God bestows on me and you with our relationship.

You've had some ups and downs this past year, with an awesome trip to NYC that you loved and then unfortunately being hospitalized for a nasty virus.  You started kindergarten and you blew through your math curriculum in a hurry. You climb and fly and can charm the pants off of anyone you meet.

Your favorite thing to do is to rattle off the Dinosaur A to Z song from Dinosaur Train sometimes as a duet with your brother.  You have such a thirst for knowledge of dinosaurs that I'm sure you know at least 100 different species. Your favorites are the sauropods.

You are the best big brother as you help your younger siblings out with things they cannot do, but also in that you look out for them too.  You also are a really good friend and try to include them always in your play schemes.

You started to be more adventuresome this past year, whether it be in foods, or taking a class on your own, or trying a new sport out (soccer). You even have been more open to trying some new movies out like Inside Out, Land Before Time, and Pete's Dragon to name a few. You have the most excellent memory when it comes to playing out scenes of whatever movie or show you have watched is.

Thanks for being you, we might not always understand each other , but I am so glad that God had me be your mom.  I don't think I would have grown as much as I did in the last 6 years if I didn't have a you. So thank-you.  I've enjoyed this time we get to spend together and learn about each other and from one another.  You are an excellent Benjamin, even if I am biased in saying so since I am your mama. I hope you grow in this next year to be an even better Benjamin than you are today. I love you to the moon and back.

Your Mama

Monday, February 22, 2016

To Lena on her 2nd Birthday

Dear Lena,

You turned two officially today.  And sometimes it is like you were already two and other times I'm in denial and you are still my baby.  For one, you talk in complex sentences and recall events and state your opinion so matter of factly.  You are definitely one verbal little girl, which is something new for me to experience as a mom. But in other things, well you still aren't the best of sleepers. You wake up 1-2 times a night and well, usually it works okay, but sometimes you are just angry when you wake up and take a while to be consoled.

You are definitely a girl after two boys.  You do not hesitate to get in the mud or goo or chalk.  Instead you are right there with them.  However, you approach things differently than your brothers do.  I remember the day where I noticed that you actually played inside the playhouse and methodically carried out fake kitchen bits, while your brothers, well they conquer that house and test its limits by jumping through windows and climbing on its roof.

You take a while to warm up to people, unless you are in a super friendly mood.  Usually when you do warm up you charm whomever you are with.  You love a good game of hide and seek, and you are very obvious but deliberate about being found. You love to be read to and can sit for about 10 different books at once.  You also enjoy some TV too, you enjoy Dinosaur Train and Clifford and Blue's Clues.

You crack me up with your antics, and you especially make me have to hold in the laughter when you pray for "Woofford." (Clifford) every day. You've figured out your colors and since then have declared purple as your favorite one.  Amongst dinosaurs you really like t-rexs, and you seem to often think you are one.  Though if you brother decides to be one, you are easily terrified.

I am so thankful for you, just because you challenge me to be a better mama in your own special way.  You've helped me to be more adaptable, and to be softer to others in a good way.  I feel like I no longer always have the right way to do something but realize there is alway so much more to learn and that each kid is different even if some things are similar or recognizable from before.

I enjoy how you actually play with the baby toys in a way that your siblings never did.  They always wanted to create things, but you see to want to understand how something works.  You also have a nurturing side and I love that about you, though your brothers are sensitive souls your nurturing bits are different and uniquely yours.

So Helena, I'm sad in some ways to see your babyhood be over as you are big two year old now, but I'm also excited for the possibilities that come with you growing older.  I think you are going to be full of fire and keep me on my toes, but I also don't think you will give up your mama snuggles just yet.

Thanks for being you Lena girl, I'm glad that God chose me as your mama.  It's been a privilege to be it for sure.

Your Mama

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Book Review: Divine Mercy for Moms

Over the Christmas season, I had the opportunity to read the book Divine Mercy for Moms, Sharing the Lessons of St. Faustina by Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet.

With this year being the Year of Mercy as declared by Pope Francis, so many things seem to be divinely popping up as opportunities to practice and learn mercy. This book was one of those occurrences.  As I read this book, I felt like a wealth of information was bestowed upon me in a good way. 

As a convert, when I read books like this, I am reminded at the vastness of the Catholic faith and how much there is to learn in every single aspect of it.  It never gets old.  I had never encountered the story of St. Faustina before, and divine mercy in itself was a new concept to me other than it being something I caught in passing or glossed over.  This book did a great job recalling the life of the Saint and really taking the wisdom she shared from her life and applying it our lives today.  The authors were able to take it even one step further and take aspects from their own lives and reflect on the divine mercy in them based on St. Faustina's wisdom. 

When I was reading this book, there was a social media squabble on children at mass, and how they did or did not have a right to be there.  Spoiler alert: They do. Divine Mercy for Moms gave a great example for this case, and actually for any circumstance that we are feeling that someone else is causing us to not draw closer to God, but is a distraction.  St. Faustina as a sister would pray in the chapel with the other sisters and was positioned close to another nun that happened to make a lot of noise while she prayed.  St. Faustina thought about saying something to the other sister, but she realized by doing so she would make her conscience of something that would just cause hurt with no resolution.  Instead, St. Faustina learned to pray through the distraction, and because of it grew in grace abundantly. I loved this so much for many reasons, one being that as a mom, its so easy to get bogged down in blaming the kids and mess of life for a poor spiritual life when really we just need a change in perspective, and two it helps us to realize that we need to see others whether they be our children or just a particularly challenging person as people that are children of God and to pray for them to be aware of God's mercy just the same. 

This book presented the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and along with them gave amazing practical examples for which to carry them out.  My favorite one was to pray a chaplet of divine Mercy while making dinner for my family.  My spiritual advisor was pointing out to me the other day just how much of motherhood is doing these acts of mercy, but a lot of times we just are not aware of doing them.  Divine Mercy for Moms gave really practical ways to see this and to try to be aware of God's presence in our everyday.  The authors even went above and beyond and gave outreach examples of the works of mercy, such as handing out water bottles on a hot day to "give drink to the thirsty".  

Divine Mercy for Moms is a book that I feel like is multi-faceted, as it can be a reference book for prayers, and living out mercy, or to be a spiritual refresher or awakener in the mercy department.  It's set up to either do as a personal study but could also be a really great book for a group discussion.  All I know is that I definitely have to read this book again because as I said earlier there is just so much to it that its hard to soak it all up in one reading.  

The authors have set up a website for their book Divine Mercy for Moms. com and I recommend it as its full of great resources that were mentioned in the book but also serves as point to connect with other moms.  You can get some great ideas on how to really live out the works of mercy either from other moms or from the resource links that were mentioned in the book.  Either way its a win-win.

So I hope that you are able to use this book as a way to learn and begin to carry out mercy in your life.  You may be already be merciful in your daily walk and not even know it. But this is a a five star book in helping you to recognize God's mercy and we really all could use more of that. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


I think yesterday I voiced that I don't like Ash Wednesday, and honestly its for all the wrong reasons. But I think me saying that made me be honest with myself and realize that I am uncomfortable on this day. I struggle so much with this feeling that maybe its a lead up to some of the things I am needing to work through in this Lent in order to grow closer to Jesus.  It's funny one of the objections I got from protestants about becoming Catholic was that most Catholics they knew didn't take their faith seriously and they thought I would be stunted in my growth as a Christian.  But if there is one thing I have learned while being Catholic is that if you actually look into and follow what the church teaches it feels impossible not to grow.  There is always something to learn, and some way to grow and that is  I think because there is such a liturgical ebb and flow of things that it allows for creativity of the individual growth within.

So when I look at why I don't like Ash Wednesday, a lot of it stems from me being afraid.  Ash Wednesday is a day where we say to God that in spite of all the pains and sufferings of this life want to grow closer to Jesus.  It says that we actually want to make that step. And thats an uncomfortable place to be sometimes, because it makes us look at all our bits that we know are hindering our relationship with God.  At least it should be. I mean I used to be the kid that gave up donuts because well I honestly don't like donuts, and so it was easy to do.

But this year, I'm not giving up social media, something I normally felt like I should do.  But I think, I finally have found a place for it, so its not going away for me.  And I'm not calling out the people that did or didn't.  Either way its between you and God and I am just going to try my best to give you mercy either way.  But this year, I am realizing where I struggle most is in being okay with being me. Which in turn makes perfect sense why I struggle with Ash Wednesday so much.  Because, Ash Wednesday forces me to be blatantly Catholic and turn myself to Jesus.  And being in fear of being me is definitely an obstacle to growing closer to Jesus.

So this year, this year I am giving up saying "I'm Sorry" incessantly.  I apologize for who I am and the choices I make because I am in fear of someone disagreeing or disliking me.  It's silly when you look at it from the outside, but its a habit I've conditioned myself with and I am owning up to it.

In my praying, I'm working on really understanding forgiveness, because I think I first need to be better at letting go of my own mistakes and then also there are some key players that I need to keep working on forgiving as well. And I'm also going try and figure out more of my strengths and be more comfortable in my own two shoes.

And in my giving, I think I am just going to try and be as generous as I can be with charities, but also be more gracious in general. If I do slip up with the "I'm sorry" bit, then each time I do a charity will get a dollar. I'm expecting many slip ups because, well, I've been partaking in this habit for years!

So, its a heavy Lent, but I'm up for the challenge.  Even if I don't accomplish all these things in 40 days, I know I will at least make a little bit of progress in them.

How are you growing closer to Jesus this Lenten season?

Sick with croup?  Inventing tape ashes. :)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fight for Air Climb

I understand all too well what it means to not be able to breathe. I used to go to a concert and have to leave because I'd start hacking and wheezing too much from inhaling some second-hand smoke from fellow music enthusiasts around me.  People might say I'm paranoid about smoke, but I know that if you are smoking I need to step away for my health otherwise its just not okay for me and my lungs.  My one grandfather smoked and if he was smoking or just finished smoking, my mom wouldn't let me near the inside of his house because she knew my lungs wouldn't be able to handle it. I spent many days outside in their yard or on their front porch just hanging out, pre-wifi days. You see I am allergic to smoke and let's just say that campfires are a mess for me too.

When I moved to Cleveland, something else happened.  Whether it was the adjustment to living in a big city, or just me not handling the industry, I started to have lung issues every time I exercised.  This led to an exercised induced asthma diagnosis, and while over time my lungs have adjusted a bit, it still can be a little rough in the unexpected.

In the past 2 years, I've had a different experience with lung issues.  It seems that my second son has those same sensitive lungs.  His has allergy induced lung issues in a different way, thus different things set him off.  But its scary when i know he's struggling to breathe well due to an environmental factor that's out of his control. To sit with him struggling and just pray and know its not in your control to make him get better, its a very humbling feeling.

So I signed up for the Fight For Air Climb in Cleveland for March 5, 2016.  This event benefits the ALA, and honestly I didn't originally have a good reason except for the challenge to do this event.  I figured at the very least I would be donating to a helpful charity.  But then I thought about it and realized in my very own way I do have a story behind it and maybe that's why I'm doing it.  It might not be the traditional lung disease that may influence the average participant, but I've come to realize that functioning healthy lungs are a very good thing. God knew more than I did at the time when I signed up.

And maybe it will be a challenge, but I'm up for it.  It may be crazy considering the exercise induced asthma, but I'm training for the 804 stair climb and I'm up to 286 stairs so far with almost a month to go. So, if you have a little extra cash burning in your pocket, or you like to get a tax break from making donations or you are just a really good person and want to help others out with your donation to the ALA, visit my personal goal page here.  It's just a goal of $100 and I think we can do this together. Thanks everyone!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

What I learned from the movie Inside Out

I think I have always struggled with letting go of something.  I think that for me letting go meant that I was giving up hope and when I gave up hope that was dark and not good and I didn't want to be that way.  At the same time, I think that me not wanting to give up has helped me to persevere through many a things and learn so much in the process that if I had given up, it just wouldn't have been the same.

When I watched the Disney film Inside Out the other day, some interesting thoughts came to mind. And I think that maybe what I got out of the movie was the point of it all, maybe, or at least for me it was. It was that its okay to be sad about something.  To truly be sad for something that you miss or didn't have turn out the way you thought it would.  Because its only in that sadness that we can let go of the notion that it was meant to always be that way or that what you were given was just totally different than what you needed or wanted. To realize that its never going to be that way again, or be what you intended should make you sad.  You shouldn't have to pretend that you are happy when you are not. To let yourself truly feel what you need to feel, in a non-harmful way, is incredibly healthy.

And I realize that this is where I need to grow. I struggle to feel sadness about something and in some ways it holds me back from letting go, and from making that forward motion. I get that now.  Last year, I struggled with this so much, but I couldn't see why I couldn't do it.  I just knew I couldn't.  I struggled to really grieve and I wanted to live in the false reality that everything was okay when it wasn't.  It clearly wasn't.

So, once again, a children's film strikes me again with a bit of wisdom that I needed, and for that I'm thankful. It's an odd thing to work on, learning how to grieve, but you see for so long I didn't for so many things that I need this.  And so I'm okay to be in the sadness, the sadness is good for me.