What I Learned From My 2nd Miscarriage

(NOTE(WARNING:  This is a long blog!)

She was supposed to be our “rainbow baby” – the joy after the storm. 

IMG_2798When we found out we were pregnant again, 4 months after losing our baby Gale, I was excited.  The likelihood of miscarrying again, back to back, was very low.  My doctor had me come in within a couple of days of my initial call to check my HGC levels to make sure the pregnancy was strong.  I registered “low”, but passable and was put on progesterone supplements.  A couple of days later, my HGC levels were checked again and were soaring.

At 8 weeks, we loaded up the whole crew and waited to see the newest member of our family up on the “big screen”.  After waiting through a “full work-up” OB appointment for me, the kids running through halls and the staff being kind enough to put up with all the noise, we finally got to see the baby.  Her heart was beating like a champ, the kids were thrilled to discover they were going to have a new sibling (“Please, not another girl, Mom,” said our 5 year old, only son), and I felt confident that we’d be celebrating another birthday around Thanksgiving.  My doctor scheduled me for another ultrasound at 11 weeks “just to be sure of things”. Read More

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How My Miscarriage Changed Me

It’s really hard to discuss miscarriage.  It’s not that it’s taboo, exactly.  It’s just that it’s not something that’s usually very public unless your pregnancy was already public.  And, when you lose a baby early in a pregnancy, many people don’t even really consider it much of a loss.  In fact, I was one of those people.  I mean, there has never been any question that once you conceive, that is a life with a unique soul.  But, I always thought, “If the pregnancy is lost early, how could you even feel very attached to that baby?” I truly did not understand because I did not have a frame of reference for that type of loss.

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But, now I do.  And, it has changed me.
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Our [Imperfect] Family Rosary

“Continue to pray the Rosary every day.”
(Our Lady of Fatima to Sister Lucia)

I don’t think there’s any practicing Catholic out there who would deny the importance of daily recitation of the rosary.  The saints, the Popes, and even the Blessed Mother herself invites us to pray it on a regular basis, promising great spiritual wealth and growth as a result of it.  And, I have no doubt at all that that is true.

childs+hands+holding+rosaryBut, for the vast majority of us, praying the Rosary daily is actually rather challenging.  Or, maybe that’s just me.  I am not sure if it’s that I lack focus or the ability to sit still that long, but when I am attempting to pray it alone (which, let me tell you, happens about 0.1% of the time of my life) or when I am driving (which is more realistic), I easily get distracted.  I do much better when I pray it aloud with other people.

But, the only people I am with on a regular daily basis are these tiny human beings that I call my children.   Which, hey, is GREAT!  Because, praying the FAMILY rosary is possibly an even more beneficial and spiritually efficacious type of prayer than praying it alone.

Maybe efficacious isn’t the right word.  Perhaps saying it’s a source of “great sanctification” is more appropriate.  Especially when your prayer partners are 5, 3, and 20 months old.

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Getting Schooled

It’s taken me forever to find time to finally write a blog.  But, here I am!!  And, I wanted to write on a topic that’s been on my heart and mind a whole lot over the past few years, probably since my first child was born almost 4 years ago.  And, in recent days, it seems to be a topic that keeps popping up over and over again in conversations and Catholic circles in which I run.

imgChoosing schooling for our children.

It’s been out there, hanging in the marital and family atmosphere since my son was born.  When knew the days would come when he would be old enough to have to begin formal education and we would have to decide which route we wanted to at least begin with.  And, when it’s your first child and you have no experience with any type of school one way or the other, it’s overwhelming to think about.

I went to all Catholic school, from kindergarten through college.  Every minute spent in a school uniform (well, up until college), nuns as some of my teachers, retreats & Mass as a regular part of our curriculum.  I was not homeschooled ever, though one of my sisters and one of my brothers both were for a short amount of time.  Those same two were the only ones in our family who ever attended public school.  I had some public school friends from work and activities that I did outside of the school, but not many.

I knew plenty of homeschoolers especially through our family prayer group.  I went to college with A LOT of homeschooled people.  In fact, I am married to someone who was homeschooled for a large part of his education (and, incidentally, who received his college education through the seminary).
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I Am Not Fearless

This morning, I brought my two children to a large playground that is in a more urban setting than most of the playgrounds by our home.  Okay, it’s not like it was in the middle of downtown, but it’s right next to a large, busy intersection bordered on one side by a very upscale neighborhood and on the other side by less-than-upscale apartments.  It’s a playground that is frequented by families with children, people of various ages and races, runners and bikers, and…….the people who make you nervous.

You know what I mean when I say that.  And, I don’t say it to be mean, rude, or unloving.  It’s a reality that all of us are familiar with, especially if you have children.  Sometimes in public areas, there are people who put you a little on edge, who cause you to watch your children a little closer, who’s movements you watch out of the corner of your eye.

It happened twice today.  

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“Mama” Mary

I don’t presume to think I am “cool”.

Any type of “coolness” I may have possessed in my younger years has most certainly gone flying out the window with motherhood.  I finally spoke this truth out loud to my still cool, unmarried, currently living in Nashville (the epitome of hipster/music/coolness) about to go to awesome music graduate school younger brother.  “Yeah, there’s pretty much nothing we do as moms that will become an ‘in’ thing.  In fact, if something becomes a trend for moms & kids, it is probably on it’s way out,” I said.

Good one, Catholic Memes.

Good one, Catholic Memes.

The reality of my motherly uncoolness became even more pronounced today as I was sitting in Barnes & Noble visiting with my pregnant friend while her son and my two kids played around with a group of other children (most of whom were accompanied, also, by moms of various ages and stages of pregnancy).  We chatted and laughed about potty training (yes, discussing poop), baby food, sleeping habits, toys & interests of our kids, pregnancy, and motherhood in general.  Probably the most boring conversation ever for my girlfriend’s unmarried friend who was with us, too.

Yes, motherhood is unglamorous and totally uncool when it really comes down to the nitty gritty of it.

On the ride home, this realization got me thinking about the Blessed Mother.  Our Most Holy Mother Mary, who is always depicted as beautiful, serene, demure, hair perfectly coiffed, the “coolest” woman who ever walked the face of the earth in all her holiness and Immaculate Conception-ness, was also a mom. Read More

In the Garden of Souls

I recently read the book “Left to Tell” by Immaculée Ilibagiza.  It’s the incredible story of how she survived the Rwandan genocide in 1994 by hiding in a bathroom with several other women for 3 months.  During this ordeal, she had incredible experiences of the presence of God, of true meditation, and of miracles.  The book was totally wonderful and I couldn’t put it down.  I read the whole thing in less than 24 hours, including me staying up waaaaaay past my mommy bedtime because I just had to know what happened next.

Immaculée Ilibagiza

Immaculée Ilibagiza

The book has tremendous insights into forgiveness, trusting in God, and prayer and so many things spoke deeply to me. I was most amazed at how her faith could be so strong and deep and her prayer life so intense in a time when things were more horrible than anything she could’ve imagined in her life or than I could ever imagine having to experience.

I’ve used this book and what I’ve read as a reference point a lot lately.  When things have gotten challenging or difficult for me (which, incidentally, they have a lot lately as I am basically single-parenting for a month while my husband is away working), I try to find all the things in the situation that I can be thankful for.  I try to immerse myself in prayer or at least point my thoughts towards God when I am starting to wallow.  I try to be a woman of faith.

I recently had a really, really, REAAAAALLLLY rough night with my children.  And, being without my husband, it compounded the fact that I had no relief during that night and knew I wouldn’t have any the next day, either.  Anyone who has children can understand what a bad night with kids can be like.  You love your kids more than anything, but you reach a breaking point.  You start begging God to make the crying stop, to have mercy on you, for guardian angels to comfort the kids, to please let you have sleep so that you can parent well the next day.

I was pushed to my limits and beyond and I had a lot of not very friendly words with God  that night. I’m convinced I was wrestling with some demons, too.

But, eventually, the hours passed and the crying stopped and the children rested (though, I didn’t really).  And, as I laid awake with my thoughts, I cried at my weakness and lack of faith.  I thought of Immaculée and how strong she was during something that was truly from the devil and lasted for THREE MONTHS (not just 3 hours).  I thought to myself, “The Lord barely gives me trials in comparison to what Immaculée and so many people suffer.  How could I ever hope to attain heaven when I can’t even make it through a tough night of parenting?”

Suffice it to say, I was disappointed and ashamed of myself.

The next morning, I prayed in thanksgiving for the new day, for my beautiful children and their happy little faces, and I asked God to forgive me for all the unpleasant things I had thought (and, some which I spoke allowed) the night before.  I prayed for the grace to be a better parent and to somehow come to an understanding of how I could ever reach sainthood when my struggles, trials, and life seem so small in comparison to what so many others live through.

And, God in all His mercy and kindness, gave me some words of comfort and a reminder of how we are all called to sainthood.

I love a good flower garden!

I love a good flower garden!

“[Jesus] set before me the book of nature; I understood how all the flowers he created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy.  I understood that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers.



And so it is in the world of souls, Jesus’ garden.  He willed to create great souls comparable to lilies and roses, but he has created smaller ones and these must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God’s glances when he looks down at his feet.  Perfection consists in doing his will, in being what he wills us to be.”  (St. Térese of Lisieux)



I will probably never be a rose or a lily in Jesus garden of souls.  I will never, God-willing, have to suffer something like Immaculée did that is so horrendous and agonizing that it must be shared so that others may learn and have their faith deepened.  But, being a less significant “flower” doesn’t make my life or my sufferings any less important to the God who created  and loves me.  He glances down at my small life and hears my prayers.

It comes down to this – God has willed my life and sufferings to be what they are and my perfection, my sainthood lies in being aligned with that reality.  It’s my job, now, to be the best little dandelion or daisy that I can be.  Because, the garden of souls currently growing on the earth would be incomplete without mine, even if it’s not the prettiest or most noticeable one growing there.

This little guy loves his dandelion mama!

This little guy loves his dandelion mama!

Parenting: Harder Than it Looks

I would consider myself a pretty confident person. In fact, I would say that I have always been fairly confident about myself and my abilities. I never really struggled with school. I always had a knack for sports or physical activities. I was never excellent at one particular sport or subject, but always picked things up easily and felt good trying out something new.

Well, I am.

Well, I am.

I wouldn’t say I was overly confident when it came to guys or my looks. Though I was probably the first homecoming queen in history who didn’t have a date to the Homecoming Dance, things like that didn’t break me or cause me to not really know who I was or where I was headed in life.

Yes, confidence would probably be on the list of “What are 3 words that describe you?”.

But, I have found the one thing that is trying to break my confidence. The one thing that is not just “something I do” or something that I am trying out to see how I like it. No, it’s the ONE THING that is second only to my primary vocation as a wife. It is the ONE THING that will never, ever end and I may not ever get right. Read More

The Big Change (A Rant About A Societal Norm)

WARNING:  This is going to be a ranting blog.  I just wanted to warn you.  If you get easily offended, you probably shouldn’t read any further.
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This is going to be a big year for our family.  It’s been coming down the pike for awhile and now, finally in 2012, the Big Change will be happening.  After 7 years of full-time youth ministry work, I will be “retiring” so that I can stay home with my son (and, by the end of the year, 2nd baby who is on the way).

Yes, I am 32 and I will be retiring.  But, in actuality, I won’t be retiring from anything – I’m just going to be making a career change from full-time paid Church employee to Stay-At-Home-Mom.

I am not going to write about all the prayer and discernment that went into making this decision.  Suffice it to say, it was a lot.  In fact, this has been a decision that has been almost 2 years in the making.  And, we, as a family, feel like now is the time to make the Big Change.  I still love and believe 100% in the importance and value of youth ministry.  But, it’s time for someone else to take it on in my stead.

I have mixed emotions about the whole thing, but mostly I am really excited about the change.  But, something that’s been happening is really frosting my cookies…

Here’s where the ranting begins.

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