March Goals

I’m not trying anything crazy this month, unless you count trying to get something done around here crazy, which is entirely possible. I do have a few things I need to work on though, so here goes: real goals.

1. Fitness: 10K steps as often as possible. I’m aiming to start with 4 times a week. Plus I’m adding in a super-mini workout 3 times a week. But it is so insignificant I am not even going to tell you what it is. Let’s just say it is under 3 minutes long.

2. Read Books! It’s kind of a long list (for me lately) but in an effort to get myself away from the screen, I am making this one challenging. I used to read two books a week without problem pre-internet.

Books I hope to read in March:

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode – I’m already half way through this, but I will be finishing it in March so it counts.
Meditation on the Psalms – I’m studying the psalms this year for my personal Bible study. I’m just tickled that C.S. Lewis has a whole book on the topic!
Forming Intentional Disciples – Recommended my our priest, this is my Lenten reading
The Two Towers – I’m re-re-re-re-reading this one anyway.
Pride and Prejudice  – I’ve always wanted to read this one, and I feel like the only person in the world who hasn’t, so why not now? My list needed some fiction.
Bonus Book: Notes from a Blue Bike – I have the book just waiting for me. I can’t wait to start it. This is my carrot.

3. Blogging – Continue writing a 7 Quick Takes each week. Add in one other link up weekly, get my family photo blog going again.

There isn’t much spiritual stuff here, but I have my list ready for Lent. So I will be adding some things come Wednesday.

The Burial

It’s drizzling quietly outside and I’m wondering if I really want to drag the words for this post out of my brain. I’d rather do it sooner than later, so here goes.

On Thursday, we laid our little unborn baby to rest. It was a beautiful day, sunny and 80 degrees, and our time was beautiful as well. I wished all day for pictures of my moments, but the day was too precious to mar with fussing over a camera. The few pictures I was able to take were the times when I could take out my phone and snap a picture as quickly as possible and put it away. I’m glad I left the day in peace like that, but I still wish I could revisit the images in my head in a more tangible way.

We kept the kids out of school, which made for a morning that went at a quieter pace than usual. There is always a bustle to get this crew out the door, but there was still less stress. I was very grateful for that.

First we met Fr. L at the convent at our parish for mass. Their little chapel was just big enough for the family. The chairs are separated so that the sisters can go in and pray, so I worried about having the little ones out of reach during the mass, but it wasn’t really a problem. Gus (age 2) got our of his chair a few times and wandered, but there was no one but us for him to bother. Fr. L mentioned after the mass that it was nice to say a funeral mass where everyone, even the small children, knew the mass parts. (Very often at funerals there is very little participation.) And the kids did know the mass parts. They all sang their little hearts out!

After mass, we all had to travel to the other side of town (about a 45 minute drive)  to pick up the baby in its little casket at the doctor’s office and then drive another 10 miles to the cemetery. There was a short delay at the doctor office in getting the casket sealed, but I think that helped me to get through the cemetery part. I was able to ride a little wave of stress through it.

Queen of Heaven cemetery has a little hill in the middle with a statue of the Holy Family on top. They have reserved this hill for burying babies born before 20 weeks gestation. There is no headstone or label for individual babies, but this service is free to those who wish to have a burial for their lost babies.

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The tiny casket

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Baby Ambose’s place is almost right in front and very close to the statue. The green board was for kneeling, the hole is right under the flowers.

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Jay placed Ambrose into the grave, and each of us threw a handful of dirt onto it. This was the saddest part for me. When James threw his handful in, Gus said, “Good job, James!”

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Jay and Lily start to walk back to the car. You can see the chairs and platform under the tree where we had the little graveside service.

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Paisley carried Molly back to the car.

In setting all of this up, I really worried that I was making a bigger deal than was necessary, but I really think that this was a healing moment for our family. It was a big deal, even if we hadn’t known about the baby for very long. The kids treated the whole thing with deep respect.

After the little service, we took the family out to lunch and took the time to relax a bit. I wanted to end the experience on a positive note.

I’m doing okay these days. I’m not really moping around sad all the time. But I do find that my emotional energy is pretty low right now, so I know that I am still processing all of this a little bit, and probably will be for a while. I am just trying to give myself some space and as much down time as I can manage.

The Reversal Part 4: The Ever After

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

I wish I could say that my severe, health threatening morning sickness was a thing of the past, but the hard truth was that my first post-reversal pregnancy was my worst yet. By the time I was 11 weeks along, I couldn’t take any food by mouth at all and would blow out an IV line about every three hours. The decision was made to give me a PICC line just to get me through the pregnancy. I kept the PICC line in for an additional 10 weeks. At 21 weeks I was down to just average, bad morning sickness without the need for IV fluids.

PICC Line

PICC Line

We definitely had our moments during that time of wondering what on earth we had done to ourselves. It can get really difficult to keep your eyes on God when you keep tripping over real life.

But we squeaked our way through, leaning heavily on Jesus, on our friends, and our family. And in a quick and healthy birth Therese Marie joined our family in March of 2002.

Since that time we have had four more babies and two miscarriages and life has dealt us many other blessings and some really hard times as well. I can’t say that it never crosses my mind that if we hadn’t had the reversal, my youngest child would be 16 years old right now and my house would be a whole lot cleaner. But when my four year old tells me that she loves me a thousand and twenty-nine, or my two year old kicks me in the head – again – in the middle of the night and then laughs in his sleep, I am reminded that this is a beautiful life. This life has changed me and formed me. It has been hard – very much so. But it has been joyful.

When our older kids come home, or really when anyone comes in the door, there is a stampede to see who it is and to greet the person. Gus, age 2, will often throw his arms wide for a hug and yell, “You’re back!”

Not everyone is called to the family size we have. Our family isn’t better than others or more holy in any way. I’m not trying to sell anyone on the idea of having nine kids (or more). The size of your family, licitly planned, is between you, your spouse, and God.

We still falter and doubt often, we wrestle with the choice to have another child or not. Having a vasectomy reversal didn’t make that any easier.  Our lives require constant dying to self, but then every life needs that in its own capacity.

In spite of its difficulties, in spite of its chaos, our family is our ministry and it is filled to the brim with love.

Family Trip to Disney 2013

Family Trip to Disney 2013

 

The Reversal, Part 3: The Trip

Part 1, Part 2

I want to take a moment to say that a vasectomy reversal is not for everyone. The Church doesn’t require it as part of your penance or to prove that you have really confessed. Some families are called to this path, some are not. I know others who confessed their vasectomy but decided to live out their new found openness to life in other ways: being more involved in church ministry, pro-life work, foster care, being more available to help other families around you – there are many ways to be in service to life. I do not judge people who have had this procedure or those who don’t get it reversed. My goal here is only to tell our story. We strongly felt that our call was to pursue a vasectomy reversal. Our families were against our decision and friends thought we were crazy.

The actual vasectomy reversal was so much more than a procedure to have done. Getting to that point had been a walk of faith every step of the way. We found a doctor in New Braunfels, Texas who did reversals for very little over his own cost. He viewed it as a ministry to help people who had rediscovered the blessing that fertility is. We carefully set aside the money and planned to travel to Texas.

A few days before we traveled, I mentioned our trip and asked for prayers on a Catholic Homeschooling email list I was on at the time. Two women responded, from Michigan, that they and their husbands would be there the same time we were. We we all even staying at the same hotel!

I have tried to write about our trip many times in the last 13 years. But the time is so holy in my mind and heart that putting it into words seems almost profane.  Our trip was surreal, from start to finish. Listing it as just events that happened to us doesn’t do it justice. With that said, I will try one more time to write this out.

We arrived in San Antonio very late at night, picked up our rental car and had to drive quite a while to get to New Braunfels and our hotel. We didn’t get to our room until after 2am, and we would have to leave for the doctor’s office at 5:30am.

The next day dawned bright and hot and found us in the waiting room of a small surgical office. The staff was friendly and there were pictures of Jesus on the walls. We were nervous and sleep deprived. The doctor met with us briefly. He prayed with us, for Jay’s safety and for future blessings, and then explained how the procedure would go – he would take Jay back and get him ready, then they would come and get me and I could sit near Jay’s head during the procedure.

When I walked into the tiny operating room, I was amazed at just how different this experience was from the cold, slick office where Jay had the vasectomy. The first thing I saw was this picture, hung above the operating table:

JesusAnd there was quiet praise music playing in the background.

The procedure was uncomfortable for Jay, much worse than the vasectomy had been. I was able to rub his face and shoulders to comfort him. Part of the way through the surgery, the doctor called me over to the other side of the little curtain blocking Jay’s view. He had me look through the microscope and see just how tiny the thread and stitches were. He explained that showing the wives this detail made sure the men got the rest they needed to fully heal after the surgery.

When it was all done, the doctor told us about good places to get dinner around town and cautioned Jay to take it very easy. We paid and went back to our hotel to catch up on our sleep.

The rest of the trip is now a blended memory of floating from one thing to another – we wandered a book store, we attempted to go to mass but our rental car broke down, we met with the other two couples and had a lovely dinner together.

The next day, Jay had a check up with the doctor to make sure he was healing well. Then we drove an hour to an Orthodox Monastery nearby where there was an icon of Mary that was weeping myrrh. We were both blessed with the myrrh, and spent some time in prayer there.

(I have since found out unfortunate news about this monastery, and that this icon was a fraud. In spite of that, this was a very moving part of our experience. Were we blessed by a fake priest with fraudulent scented oil? I guess we were. Maybe that is not when or where our miracle occurred. It doesn’t really matter what or when the miracle was. But I still believe that the children that came after our reversal are miraculous.)

Soon we were home and swept back up into the mix of everyday life. Our trip and Jay’s surgery had been a sort of retreat for us. We both felt strongly that we were putting our whole lives firmly back into God’s hands. Would we conceive again? Would I be as sick as I had in the past?

In a complete change from where we began, we fervently hoped that we would be blessed with another baby. We had moved from fear and denial to begging God to give us another baby, along with deep sorrow for the choices we had made in the past.

The months began to tick by, one after another. Our youngest child turned 3 and I started to think that our baby days were at an end, that we had done our part, but God’s answer to us was a firm but gentle “No.”

Then – ten months after the reversal, we saw what we had hoped for – two pink lines.

Part 4

The Reversal, Part 2: A Change of Heart

Part 1

Part 2:
The winter of early 2000 found us living in a city far from our families, with Jay out of work and both of us depressed.  We had four young children from 2 to 9 years old, were living in a tiny house and trying to homeschool.  We felt alone and overwhelmed.

The tiny house, 900 square feet, two bedrooms and a wet basement.

The tiny house, 900 square feet, two bedrooms and a wet basement.

Our four amazing children, whose smiles and laughter pulled us through a very hard winter. Side note: Our house was so tiny, we put up half of our Christmas tree, so it could be flat against the wall.

Our four amazing children, whose smiles and laughter pulled us through a very hard winter.
Side note: Our house was so tiny, we put up half of our Christmas tree, so it could be flat against the wall.

I began to attend a local protestant mega-church on Wednesdays, just as a way to get out of the house.  Doing that reminded me that what my heart needed most of all was the comfort Jesus could give me.  I began to question why I was Catholic and think about returning to my protestant roots.  During this time, my good friend mentioned that she had received some interesting tapes about different Catholic topics, and felt convicted to pray the rosary more often.  She asked if I would commit to do it with her. I responded that I wasn’t even sure if I believed in praying the rosary any more. She told me the tapes she got were free and maybe those would help me sort out my confusion.

So I ordered the tapes.  They were free, so why not?  The first one I listened to was Scott Hahn’s conversion story.  Suddenly I realized that there were answers out there to all of my unasked questions and nagging nebulous doubts. When I went through the RCIA to convert to Catholicism years earlier, our class was all about being together and supporting each other and was very light on what the Church actually taught.  I had a few specific questions that stood out from my protestant upbringing, but hadn’t bothered to dig far beyond those and find out what being Catholic really meant.  Now I knew that I was faltering because of those unanswered questions.  So I began to ask them, and I began to read.  As I read, Jay began to listen to some of the tapes too, and began to ask some questions.  So we both began to read, to pray, and to talk and to read and pray some more. The two months he was out of work became almost a retreat for us as we puzzled together what our faith really was all about, about who we were and who God is and what a gift He has given us in His church.

Jay asked me one day if I had listened to a specific tape, “The Secret to Happy Families” and I told him I hadn’t gotten to that one yet. He said, “It’s not what you think it’s about. You should listen to it.” With that as a teaser, I popped it in as soon as I had the chance.

It turns out the whole tape – the whole secret – was about contraception and it’s affect on families. I couldn’t believe it! As they talked about it though, I began to understand, how we need to accept each other fully and how contraception works against that, how our children understand that when we close ourselves so decisively to other children we are commenting on them as well.

I looked at my own family, how my attitude had changed toward them over the past year and a half.  I still loved my children with all my heart but there was a slight shifting in how I viewed them.  Raising them was a hard time to be pushed through and no longer a daily celebration.

There came a day when I sat on our tiny living room floor surrounded by paperwork as I readied our taxes.  The kids would run back and forth, stepping on piles or knocking them all over. As I worked I listened to that tape one more time and suddenly I got it.  The concept sunk in, and in spite of the irritation of trying to work in chaos I saw that this was all a gift.  These children were blessings.  BLESSING.  Blessing that I had been treating as if it was my cross to bear, my hardship to live through.  I had caved in to the idea that my life was all about me and what I could get out of it and not about what I could give and now I saw this tremendous opportunity opening up before me.  My life was not on hold until they were old enough for me to “get something done”.  This was my life right there.

I shared all of this with Jay and he had been feeling the same way. He turned to me and said, “Jenni, I want to have more children with you.”  Words that lifted me up in a way I can’t really describe.  I think only someone who has felt like she had to apologize to her husband for being pregnant could really understand the depths of those words and the complete love and acceptance I felt in them. We both went to confession and resolved that we would find some way to have a vasectomy reversal.

Being suddenly on fire for the faith didn’t change our situation, though.  We were still alone and out of work. We made the decision to return to Arizona.  It was a little humiliating to crawl back, just 5 months after moving away, but we knew it was the right thing to do. With help from our families, we were able to move back and get settled again in Arizona.  Over the next few months, we saved pennies, bought a tiny house, kept reading and praying, and made plans to have Jay’s vasectomy reversed.

The Reversal, Part 3: The Trip

The Reversal, Part 1: The Vasectomy

This series has been much requested and a long time coming. It has been hard for me to put this all down in black and white, since this journey was such a personal one. I’ve split the story up into parts to keep it from being too long. They will be published over the next 3-4 days.

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Our vasectomy reversal was so much more than just a change of mind.  It was a chance for us to grow up in and embrace our faith, and it was a major turning point in our lives.  But I can’t share the story of the reversal without telling you how we ended up with a vasectomy in the first place, because those were the first steps on our journey.

I have hesitated to put this story in print for a very long time because one of our children was a complete surprise and it was that pregnancy that led us to get the vasectomy.  I never wanted him to have to read this story and feel in any way like he brought our faith crisis and vasectomy about, because it wasn’t him, it was our reaction to the difficulties that come with pregnancy.  Interestingly enough, down the road, it was the vivaciousness and joy of this child that helped to change our hearts.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  I just have to start by saying that Ben, you were the best surprise that I ever received.  You changed my life for the better in so many ways and I thank God for you all the time.

And now, The Vasectomy.

Pregnancy is never really an easy thing to go through.  It is exhausting and hard on the body.  But my body’s response to pregnancy was to experience morning sickness to an extreme degree.  What I experienced was called Hyperemesis Gravidarum and involved complete disability on my part.  I lost a ton of weight and could barely move without it causing more extreme nausea and vomiting.  My first pregnancy involved multiple hospital stays.  In subsequent pregnancies I was able to use home health care for my I.V. fluids when I couldn’t hold down foods for weeks on end.

During my third pregnancy in five years, the stress really got to us and we decided that we could not go through this again.  Since I was breastfeeding and had just become Catholic, we resolved to follow the Church’s teachings on birth control and use NFP to prevent getting pregnant ever again.  We went through the classes and began to chart in earnest.  (We had charted and used NFP to conceive our third child, but this was our first experience really using NFP to prevent pregnancy.)

Seventeen months later, during an ambiguous cycle involving a fever on my part, we learned that we had a fourth baby on the way.

I was angry, Jay was angry.  I felt both betrayed and at fault at the same time.  How could I make such a mistake?  How could NFP fail us like this?

In retrospect, once our emotions calmed down, we were able to look at our chart and see exactly how it happened.  The rules are there for a reason and they define the fertile and infertile times.  We very clearly broke the rules in hopes of shortening our time of abstinence.  The end result was that we were now pregnant.

But it took us a long time to realize that.  At that moment, we just felt like we could no longer trust NFP to keep us from getting pregnant.  Our need to not get pregnant again became frantic as I endured the worst pregnancy yet as far as the Hyperemesis.  For weeks, I could barely move.  I was under the supervision of a negligent doctor at the time who allowed my condition to become very serious.  At one point, when I had nothing by mouth for nearly three weeks, the home health nurse came to deliver supplies and start a new I.V. line and was disturbed to find me in such a state.  My heart had begun to beat erratically and I was barely conscious.  He told us that he wasn’t leaving our home until he had spoken to the doctor directly and seen that I had been admitted to the hospital.

Thankfully, the negligent doctor was not on call that night and the nurse made contact with another doctor in the practice who took my condition seriously.  I was admitted and received some better treatment during that hospital stay.

That was a scary time for Jay, and really sealed in his mind that we just could not go through this again.

I recovered slowly and had a healthy baby boy, our Benjamin, in May of 1997.

Ten months later found us in a clean, fancy doctor office for Jay’s vasectomy.  The doctor brought us both back, talked for a moment, and then I was led back to the waiting room.  I waited and read a Cosmo in that shiny, white place.  20 minutes or so later,  Jay walked out, seemingly no different.  I was surprised that he wasn’t in pain, but he was still numb from the anesthetic.  I brought him home and tucked him in bed so he could rest for the day.  He told me a little bit about what happened back there, but I don’t remember that we ever really discussed it much again.  It was over, we were done.  No more fear of living through an awful pregnancy like that again.

We knew that what we had done was a sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church.  But we really felt that if the Church had to really look at our situation, they would have made some kind of loophole.  I mean, my health was at stake!  That last pregnancy had been the worst of all, who knew what could happen if we were to slip up again!  One friend of mine was understanding but did all she could to talk me out of it.  She was never pushy, she just offered information, she never judged us.  I was very grateful for that, and it kept our communication open for later on when our hearts started to change.

The Reversal, Part 2: A Change of Heart

7 Posts in 7 Days! (Again.)

7-day-blog-challenge

 

I did this before. I can do it again.

It may be nonsensical, it may be disorganized but it will be real. Like all of these blogging challenges, it’s not great timing. But I’m doing it anyway. Starting Monday 2-24-14 through 3-2-14.

7 Quick Takes 2014 vol. 5: In Which I Throw a Temper Tantrum

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My husband and I have a sort of unspoken policy that we don’t give excuses. When the field trip money gets turned in late, when we have to turn down a position at church or school where we are desperately needed, when we have to back out of a commitment we have made – we don’t give an explanation for it, we just apologize as best we can and move on. Sure, people get angry or hurt feelings, but it’s better than the alternative which is that they just flat out don’t believe us. What we have found is that if we tell people what is really going on in our lives, they think we are making it up. It seriously sounds like we are just really bad liars who come up with a list of excuses in an effort to sound plausible. You know, it’s the kind of thing you see scam artists do all the time, they give too many details. We used to give details. But we either got people who stopped believing anything we said or people who constantly looked on us with pity. We became somewhat of a joke in the parish office for a while, because people could always count on a good bit of crisis drama coming from our household. It’s not like we were calling them about it either… they just knew. So we just stopped complaining.

But this week. This week just takes the cake. It’s actually a little longer than the previous seven days, but not by much, so I’m counting it all. And I will enumerate my list of crappy things. This is one of those weeks when I stand in awe of just how bad a week (or so) can be. I almost uttered the dreaded phrase, you know the one, it begins with “What else…” but I stopped myself because I really just do not want to know.

I know that I have a lot of things to be thankful for. Trust me, they are very much on my mind right now. And I know that there are many, many people who have it much worse than I do, but today I will officially submit my entry in the “My Day Sucks Worse Than Yours” contest.

1. I am not pregnant any more. I told the whole story of my miscarriage here, so I won’t recount it for you now. But this is how we began the week: with heartbreak. The physical part is done, but there is still a lot of road ahead of us to travel on this one. We have to get the baby back to the doctors office, call the cemetery, go to vital records and I don’t know what else before our little one can be laid to rest. It feels very overwhelming, and I want it to all be over. I have this terrible fear that when I give that little vial full of stuff that I think is my baby, the doctor will tell me it is just a clot and I missed catching the baby at all and it just went down the toilet. All I can do now is wait.

I promise, while the rest of this list is bad stuff, none of it is as sad as the above paragraph. I just had to get the worst over first.

2. Croup. The little ones have been hit with varying severity with croup or a virus vaguely resembling it. Most of them came through it with just a lot of snot, fever, and horrible sounding cough, but my little asthma girl didn’t fare so well. We’ve had multiple nights of waking her every four hours for a breathing treatment, steamy showers, and time outside at night. This is the first time I have seen her truly panicked that she couldn’t get enough air, and that was very scary. To add insult to injury, she had been doing so well that just last week, her allergist gave us a plan for weaning off of the inhaled steroids that she gets every day. She has to have had no oral steroids for 2 years to be considered beyond the need for daily preventative meds. We had made it to one and a half years. Now we are back at day one.

Midnight Breathing Treatment

3. Stomach Virus. Now you are starting to think I am making things up, admit it. Just wait. When your 19 year old can only sit and cry in between her vomiting, you know its a bad one. The nine year old was next, with a single episode of vomiting – scrambled eggs, in the car. Next to fall victim was my 11 year old daughter, who threw up with such force that she broke blood vessels in her face. I was next, with the two year old close on my heels. Two year olds throw up on everything. Oh my heavens, this virus was brutal. I don’t think I slept at all for a full 24 hours. The vomiting was bad, but the headache and body aches were much, much worse.

Among the small blessings found during those days were a cancelled G.I. doctor appointment and rescheduled jury duty. Molly had a long awaited specialist appointment on Tuesday, the very day I was very sick. There was no way I could take her, so I figured we would just have to call and take the hit of whatever fee they give same day cancellations. But they called us first, and told us her doctor was out sick and would have to reschedule. I was also supposed to have jury duty the following day, but they accepted my excuse and just gave me a different day. Whew, two bullets dodged! Thanks to God for having mercy on us!

4. Adult Child Problems. Because this child is an adult, I don’t feel like I can share their business, let me just say that this is a severe, ongoing, and worrisome problem or set of problems one of my kids is having. Please pray for this child.

5. Lice. One of my kids keeps popping up with lice. I have been doing All The Things to deal with it, but they just keep coming back. I do not have the time to spend two hours a night going through heads and changing sheets. Lice combs don’t work on her, her hair is baby fine and combs don’t catch anything, it has to all be done by hand, removing nits with fingernails. One. At. A. Time.  The other kids don’t have them ( I check regularly!), and she is currently clean as a whistle, but this morning I found one on my head. and I’m just all squicked out and overwhelmed because…

6. My dryer is broken. Again. My house is still buried in puked on towels, blankets, and clothes. I need to be able to dry everything on hot to kill all the bugs, AND MY FREAKING DRYER IS BROKEN. I quit. I Quit. I QUIT.

I officially give up on this dryer which needs to be fixed about every three months now. I’m buying a new one. This particular dryer is sent by the devil himself and breaks every time we are sick. EVERY. TIME.

7. I don’t have anything else to add to this list. THANK YOU JESUS! Our cars are working, my husband has a job, we have electricity and running hot and cold water, I have a stove and two crock pots and a microwave and a dishwasher. We do not have any life threatening health problems, we have family and friends who love us and can put up with a little temper tantrum every now and then. We have our Church and the ability to go to mass and receive Jesus without threat. And so very much more. This terrible “week” will be over at some point and life will go back to “normal”.

We will be okay. I know that. We know how to laugh at a week like this, because we have to! There is some funny stuff here, even when our hearts are heavy and we need a break.

But darn if I didn’t want to rattle off this list to a certain teacher who got crabby about a delayed field trip payment.

Again

There was not a pithy title for this post, anything seemed to casual or too blunt. Even “Again” sounds all wrong to me, but I have to stick something there.

I gave myself last week off from writing the 7 Quick Takes, even though it was my primary goal to go through March writing one every week, and even though I have already missed one so far and this one makes it two.

But my baby died on Thursday. Or maybe Wednesday. Probably Wednesday. And then I fully miscarried Friday morning. And I just really didn’t want to write about anything at all. I figured I would regret just about anything that came out of my mouth (or fingers) that day.

On Wednesday, I woke up and felt fully nauseated. And I was relieved, because I had only been feeling a little gaggy so far. I had a good breakfast and got busy around the house, taking kids to this school and that, picking them up… but I forgot to eat lunch. I didn’t feel sick to my stomach like usual. That seemed wrong. I had a snack and later on I had some soup for dinner. But I still felt just fine, not even tired really. When I still wasn’t tired and had trouble falling asleep at 10pm, I knew. I just knew that it was all over. I have never been so sure of anything in my life.

Thursday morning when I got up, I took my temperature – it was much lower than it had been. And I knew. When Jay got up, I told him that it was all happening again. He tried to comfort me but I really needed to not cry – to not fall apart until the kids were safely at school. That was hard. I broke down on the drive to school and was so thankful for loud music and my sunglasses to hide behind. I don’t know if they saw. I cried through my rosary on the way home. By the time I got home I was fully bleeding and cramping and I called the doctor.

My doctor’s office was about to fit me in at 1pm. Jay was at work on the other side of town, but my oldest kids were able to babysit and do the school pick up. I drove an hour to the doctor office. It’s usually a 45 minute drive, but I missed my freeway exit. By about 10 miles. So it was a little longer that Thursday. I arrived and checked in. Everyone greeted me with sad eyes. I was told to get ready for an exam. They asked, can the student come in? And I said no. They left before the exam to see if they could schedule an ultrasound right away, and when they came back, they brought my husband with them. I can’t even describe the relief I felt, to not be in this alone. He had called off his afternoon job and come to my side, my knight in shining armor, and I didn’t even ask. But he’s like that.

After the exam, we went to McDonalds so I could drink a bunch of sweet tea for my ultrasound. I haven’t let myself have sweet tea in at least 6 months, but I had some then. And after that we went and waited in a very crowded ultrasound/x-ray place, Jay had to stand because there were no more chairs. The ultrasound was torturous, it hurt – I was cramping badly and I could see that there was no little flashing heartbeat on the screen anywhere. I just closed my eyes and cried quietly through it.

Then there was the long drive home. Jay had to go and drop something off, so we parted for the drive. I was actually thankful for the afternoon traffic. As much as I felt bad – my head was pounding and I was cramping, I wasn’t looking forward to getting home and facing chaos and telling the kids. When I got home I went straight to bed, to cry, to ball up and try to soothe my head. Jay got home and got dinner on the table. I went out and had some turkey soup from the other night. I knew it would make me feel better. It did.

We told the kids. The big ones already knew, but the younger ones didn’t and they were confused and sad. Max, age 9, came up to me later and told me he thought the baby would be okay because he prayed two decades of a rosary for it. I don’t remember what I said to him, but it clearly wasn’t sufficient because he still was thinking the baby was going to be okay on Saturday night. Then we had to explain it to him, and he cried.

I passed the baby the next morning, about an hour before we got the ultrasound report that confirmed the miscarriage. Then I had to untell about my pregnancy on Facebook. I felt a little embarrassed, but I was so amazed at the outpouring of love and prayers from our friends. I know that those prayers have lifted us up and keep us moving. I am so thankful for the support from our friends and family.

Today is Sunday, and I am still so tired. I would like to stay busy right now, it would be an easy way to keep my mind off of things. But I keep getting a terrible headache when I am up for too long at a time. So I have no choice but to rest.

Later this week we will have a burial for the baby. We named him Ambrose, because it was Ambrose’s preaching that converted St. Augustine, and we hope our own St. Ambrose can quietly speak to our hearts and the hearts of those close to us.

Goals?

I had some great goals for last year – 2013, most of them when unrealized, but because of them I made some progress in my health and writing, and even in my general mindset.

At the start of this year, I made goals too. I scaled them back, I made them SMART goals, because I am a smart girl.  In my mommy Bible study group, we check in with each other regarding our goals the last week of the month, and I have my pretty list of goals to show them this coming week, shiny and new for 2014.

But I spent most of today waiting with bated breath for some test results. Since I had a miscarriage last month, and am pregnant again, they wanted to check and see if my HCG levels are rising like they should.  Because if they are not, then we know that this time will be like last time.

As I put the babies down for their naps, I realized that I had felt pretty great all day, nothing pregnantish about my feelings, and I kind of let myself cave in to fear.  There was a time in the past when I just assumed that being pregnant ended up with a happy, healthy baby. But I’ve seen too many friends go through tragedy and complications. I don’t naively count on that as a guarantee anymore. I’ve been living in this middle ground, hoping but trying not to hope. I want to look to the future and plan for my goals and to do lists, but I don’t know – will I still be pregnant next week? Will I be feeling sick because of it? Will I have lost this baby too and not feel like doing anything?

I just don’t know, and so I don’t feel like I can make any plans. But I did get a phone call, my HCG is rising as it should, so one little hurdle is past.

It occurred to me that even though I feel paralyzed in the face of the unknown, it is just that the unknown is tangible to me right now. Next week is always the unknown. There are so many things that can go haywire between now and next week that we would be constantly frozen in fear if we let ourselves. All we have is now, and having a vision for our expectation of the future helps us to take the next step.

And maybe have a contingency plan.

For me right now that means cutting back on most things, making sure I’m getting the rest I need, taking a close look at my diet, and trying to get in a little bit of exercise. A tiny bit, seriously.   Over the coming months, whatever they bring, I hope to build more margin into my days and be more present to my family.  I guess I do have goals after all.