Saturday, August 31, 2013


I'm concluding this month's "blogathon"--in which I was only mildly "hot" once or twice, ha!--with an abbreviated post since I have exactly 1,238 things to do before I depart shortly to a remotish mountain location for an indefinite amount of time (not sure what the protocol is for sharing trip details with the blog world so I'll leave it at that.)

Suitcases yawn expectantly before me while naked toddlers dance therein as I make last minute revisions on articles, do dishes, and eat and serve food simultaneously.

So, I'm sure you can appreciate my posting haste.  :)

Unless wifi is unattainable, I will be chatting with you again on the 2nd!  Have a wonderful weekend friends, and thanks--as always--for spending time here.  Oremus pro invicem! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Love in the time of motherhood

The following is based merely on hearsay.  Any resemblance to actual people or events real or imagined is strictly hypothetical.  I present three sets of:

Seven Quick Takes 

A.  Setting the Mood

1.  Wake up and grunt a goodbye to your husband, who's leaving for work.
2.  Rub eyes repeatedly.  
3.  Make food, feed kids food, have food, clean up after food.  Repeat three times.
4.  Run errands, make phone calls, answer emails, sweep floors, throw out trash, start to organize a closet then forget you were doing that because you went to use the bathroom facilities and found a popsicle left melting on the toilet and loudly summoned the possible offenders none of whom remember anything about the incident.
5.  Spout off nonsensical tirade in which you insist the popsicle has only one stick, is not ambulatory, and is incapable of hopping.  Settle for supervising a whine-laden session of floor scrubbing by the potential miscreants, at least one of whom is guilty.
6.  Grandly supervise while finishing third cup of coffee, go to kitchen to look at clock and gasp in dismay. Husband is in the driveway and there is a box of popsicles oozing sticky brightly-colored fluids on the floor in front of the wide-open freezer.  Realize toddler sitting in middle of mess is at least partly at fault.
7.  As you apply copious amounts of Bounty and organic cleaning spray, you realize there are male eyes watching you.  And you have no sons. 

B.  Determining the time

1.  With all kids dabbling halfheartedly at puddles of goo on kitchen floor, rummage in drawer and pull out a well-worn chart full of red and green baby stickers.

2.  8C?  Any K?  No K?  Consider other methods you've used to find out "where you are."  Did I take my temperature this morning?  Did I write it down?  Did I put it on the wrong day?  Did I use pen? Nope, that's sharpie... 
3.  Feel tired.  Look at letters and numbers and stickers.  Reflect on just reasons, generosity, selfishness, sanity, temporal society, eternal good, college tuitions, Humanae Vitae, Gaudium et Spes.
4.  Realize you have been humming, "Que sera, sera..." the entire time.
5.  End exquisite family planning exercise by stuffing chart back in drawer and stride into the kitchen to inspect the cleaning.  Shoes stick to floor.  
6. Initiate bedtime routine, warp speed.  Find favorite nightgown of preschooler.  Realize it is full of popsicle juice.  Handle tantrum of preschooler as you insist on a cleaner nightgown.  And a bath.  And brushing teeth.  No you can't eat the toothpaste.  No you can't have another snack.  Yes you need to go to bed.  Now.
7.  Realize, out of force of habit, you have donned an old t-shirt and stretchy pants.  Reflect on choice for half a second, shrug, think of mantra "what happens, happens" and continue uniting children with beds.

C.  The stars align

1.  Collapse onto couch, all quiet aside from the jazzy tunes of the weather channel.
2.  Swipe through I-phone.  Realize hubby is looking at you.
3.  Check just one Groupon deal real quick and then wander to bed
4.  Momentarily regret choice of wardrobe.  Realize you have some nicer things somewhere.  Realize this ultimately does not matter too much.
5.  Hear thud.  Hear preschooler wail.  Sigh, grab robe, help her back into bed, rub her back for a few moments till the sniffling quiets and return.
6.  Hear footsteps thudding down the stairs.  Hiss at older daughter through the door that you will be up to kill the tiny bug in just a few minutes really for goodness sake are you kidding me?!? 
7.  Forget about bug.  Fall asleep.  Awake to discover a popsicle was left in the bedside table drawer.

Because they walk by themselves, didn't you know?

"Count it all joy..." James 1:2
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Thursday, August 29, 2013


Since I'll be posting another post in an hour, I'll be brief:  Here's what I'm doing next:

Being A Wordsmith

No, that's not me: that's the hostess of my next blogathon. :D  I will just be writing half as much as I used to in September.  The even days, which will give everyone a chance to catch up on my excess verbosity.

This will happen, that is, if I have wifi where I will be going...  We shall see, we shall see... ;)

One thing I do want to remedy before I close the month out: I haven't been "hot" enough this month, so I intend to improve upon that in the next post.  Somewhat anyway.

Good night and good morning in 15 minutes, eek must post... :D TLC

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Due date of a water child

It is said that when the mothers of Japan remember a lost baby, they quietly find the nearest pebble and place it upon a larger rock.  A silent remembrance of an unspeakable sadness.

So I was told, and ever since I have found myself at times performing this wordless gesture, giving an inward nod to my mizuko.  While the English language does not have a word for an unborn baby that has passed from this life, the Japanese do.

"Water child."  A child whose life began and was left in water.  I'm sure there's more Buddhist meanings to be found for it, but the simplest version is what I will take from it.

The odd appellation has a soothing quality for me.  Water is peaceful.  Purifying.  Necessary.

Like Perpetua is to me.  While I will probably never be immune to bouts of tears over her loss, she is a source of peace.  Her life and loss was a purifying experience, highlighting what matters most.  And she is very much a part of who I am now.

Today was the last due date the hospital gave me.  But I feel in my heart I would have had her, by now.  I felt this, strangely and strongly, around my father's birthday mid-month.  And while August was crushing me before that point, I felt somehow better ever since.  I no longer felt that I was "supposed" to be pregnant.  

Either way, by now, my body would have let her go.  

I sometimes imagine that her departure was nothing less than that she was given the promotion of a lifetime, an opportunity she absolutely couldn't pass up.  Called by the King of Heaven. And while she can't write or call, I still know she is happy.  

Most of the time, that is enough.

And so we both live, ever united yet--temporarily--ever apart.  Our thoughts reach for each other.  We communicate in a way only known to those who have lost a piece of their heart, thereby gaining the experience of love being stronger than mortality.

With my soul turned inside out and sewn back up again with ragged edges, it is strange, so strange, to feel the unspoken taboo.  Don't talk about it.  Move on.  Get over it.   All utterly laughable when miscarriages change who we are, literally.  When there's a child who's alive and well somewhere else because of a mom here.  

In a 2002 New York Times article, "Mourning My Miscarriage," Peggy Orenstein expressed this well:

Even in this era of compulsive confession, women don't speak publicly of their loss. It is only if your pregnancy is among the unlucky ones that fail that you begin to hear the stories, spoken in confidence, almost whispered. Your aunt. Your grandmother. Your friends. Your colleagues. Women you have known for years -- sometimes your whole life -- who have had this happen, sometimes over and over and over again. They tell only if you become one of them.

I have been grateful for this outlet to facilitate speaking about the mizukos that mean so much to me.  When I sit dripping tears all over the keyboard tapping away, I don't have the anxiety of gauging your expression.  For someone who loves to make people laugh, it has been difficult to know I've made people cry.  And profoundly touching.

Thank you for reading all these months, for grieving with me.  I don't think pregnancy or infant loss should have to be relegated to a select club of mourners.  To love anyone deeply is to take on the risk of profound loss.  Loss is a theme in the human experience this side of eternity.  While it's not necessary to dwell on the pain, it is crucial to honor such searing love, felt however briefly here.  Their lives deserve remembrance.  And their mothers deserve to remember.

So let us remember the water children.  At times, let them gently touch our conversations with a sigh, a hug, a tear.  Do not feel the need to distract or detract, minimize or brush away.  

It is not awkward to love what was always meant to be loved.  

"The memory of the just is blessed."  Proverbs 10:7

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top 10 Steps to Homeschooling

1.  Have a wild fit of hubris mitigated by sheer common sense: Without a doubt, you are your child's best option for a teacher.

2.  Spend the rest of the summer entertaining doubts.

3.  Attend a homeschool convention.  Realize that you, too, can now be called "eccentric."  (Recall field trip you once took to see Pollyanna statue.  Recognize that the shoe fits...)

Look at endless kinds of books, vast varieties of curricula, and hosts of online programs.  All "on sale." Leave more confused than when you entered.

4.  Ask your homeschooling friends "what they use" to homeschool.  Have 98% of them say, "Oh, we do our own thing."

5.  Inquire as to what "their own thing" entails.  Acquire 87 recommendation of "must have" books and 48 "can't live without" curricula.

6.  Despair and ignore all educational options for a month.

7.  Join homeschool forums online.  Stem rising panic as you apprehend that people got their books in April.  That moms are putting finishing touches on home "classrooms."  That you don't even have a "real" desk.

8.  "Get around to" writing the all-important "letter of intent to homeschool" to the superintendent of the city.  Wait for a response.

9.  The night before, wonder what the heck you think you are doing.  Curb urge to run to 24 hour Walmart to grab school supplies and send child off to nearest public institution of learning.

Insecurely ask child if they still "want to do this."  Get an unequivocal assent.

10.  Take deep breaths.  Look at the stack of elementary, high school, and college material you pulled out of hiding from the attic.  To begin, select the Bible.  The first chapter of Genesis.  Because, first things first, you know?

Read aloud the ancient poetry: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters...

the first day...

And it was very good."

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Finding Prince Caspian

I put it in a really, really safe place.  Because I wanted to make darn sure I had it when I wanted it again.

Now I can't find it anywhere!!  Don't you HATE when that happens?  Man...

By "it," I refer to the second book in my most favorite series in all the world: the Chronicles of Narnia. 

One of the (many) items on my summer bucket list was to read this series aloud to my four girls. Years ago, I had taken the time to read the series to each of my three younger siblings.  How could I do less for my own kids? 

Except, I can't find it.

Don't you dare bring up the library!  I am on the "Wanted" wall in their lunchroom.  Stretched to its utmost capacity to keep the many plates of motherhood in full spin, my brain simply cuts off at book due dates.  Especially now that they don't stamp the books.  That's too old-school.  No, they just hand you a printed receipt of return dates which my youngest child typically has torn to shreds and eaten before I get to the parking lot.

Going to the library is an exercise in humility.  "Do you realize that you have five items overdue? (Yes) That were due back in February?  (Oh) Your bill is now x. (Yowzers!)"

I can pay x, usually.  But then I have to consider which y I will pay for the next "rental." 


Plus, I bookmarked the page in Caspian.  I would know where I was... And no, I can't skip.  !  That's totally cheating.

So the search for Prince Caspian continues.  

In my frustrated pawing through stacks of paper, along shelves, and in drawers, I've found many other emblems of mommy guilt, tributes to the forgetfulness of a distracted and busy life.  I've found half-finished projects from weeks, months, even years ago that were paused to wait for mom to obtain some crucial color of glitter or type of paint to complete the next step.  I've found drawings and stories I was supposed to mail in somewhere to be put in frames (it was prepaid too, for crying out loud.)  I found favorite pieces of clothing I was supposed to sew or patch that most certainly no longer fit.

Saddest of all, I found a small bag containing a beloved glass figurine I remember a preschooler carrying around.  I distinctly remember having to gently pry pudgy hands off the pieces, promising (oh, I promised!) to repair the tiny ballerina and give it back nearly as good as new.

That preschooler is now 11.

Teary-eyed and furious, I ransacked my craft section, only to become sadder still.  Several years later, I still don't have the right glue. 

Defeated, I sat down to hold the broken statue in my hand.  As my fingers gently ran over the ragged edges, my memory reviewed all the little promises of childhood I've unintentionally left unfulfilled.  

We'll come back to the big slide later.  I'll read you that story later.  Can't watch the home movies now, maybe in a couple of days, k?  We'll cook blueberry pancakes together soon.

Sooner became later, and later remains... not yet.  And then, sometimes, now is too late.  And the big slide gets an eye roll, as the once little girl starts to pull out earbuds.

She's probably totally fine with not getting back here in time to enjoy it like she would have, and I highly doubt the lack will scar her emotional development.  But it's different for me... 

I grab the ear buds.  I tickle that overgrown baby of mine.

And I race her to the slide.

Today is the day before school starts for my second daughter (yes, I'm homeschooling the oldest, and not the younger one.  We won't fit in anywhere.:)  I've achieved most of my summer plans, but it isn't perfect... not yet.

So I started the day making blueberry pancakes with my girls.  It was a gloriously sticky affair of melted butter and dripping measuring cups and way too many bowls and frying pans.  Then we went to Chuck E Cheese and touched every germ-covered skeeball and button and token, and little noses were pressed to the glass prize display to select the plastic bracelets that will only thrill them for a year or two more.  And before they get boring, tonight we're watching those home movies. 

St. Anthony, keep an eye out for Prince Caspian, please.  And someone remind me to buy super glue... We moms need all the help we can get. :)

"Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I press on 
to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me."  Philippians 3:12

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Full Revelations of...

I have a crush on Ike Matthews.  Unfortunately, I think he's deceased.  :(

I've escaped the house to muse on his qualities, sitting in the sun on the front porch.  I would be sipping my Sunday 99 cent iced coffee, but I left it inside and, frankly, it's not worth being rediscovered by children to get it right now.  They are checked out in front of Madagascar 6 or something currently, and it's working.  Their brains are mush and their mouths are quiet.  Ah, bliss...

Excellent.  Especially since we just came back from a purgatorial church experience engendered by toddlers waking at dawn and being fed leftover cake by doting older sisters.  Church today was all potty trips, toddler liturgical dances, yells of "Jesus house!  My shoe!  Book... BOOK!" And me hissing, "Shhh.  No, not now.  No, sit.  No, listen. No... okay that's a 1.  Okay, we're at 2. Cecilia...!!!"

But back to Ike.  Well, it's about time I did a sort-of "review"... but farrr be it from me to review some trite New York Times Best Seller, nonsense.  The following is what has me intrigued.

The Full Revelations of a Professional Rat-Catcher.  Written in 1898.

Why this choice of literature?  Well... A rat (gasp) was seen nearby.  Fortunately we have about a dozen neighborhood cats who adore hunting, so I'm not overly panicked yet.  Since this is a city-wide issue, there is a hotline to call if you see one of these overgrown hamsters with long tails (sounds better that way.)

So I called and commenced some hand-wringing while an inspector came out to look over my property, and they fortunately did not find any holes indicating that we, er, actually had pets.

Curious as to how we could further dissuade potential pest ownership above and beyond the obvious, I asked, "But what's a rat likely looking for this time of year?  Where did it likely come from?  When do they breed?"  Etc etc

He had no idea.

So I googled and found this.


This man took pride in his profession of rat-catching.  He took it seriously.  And he found honor in it. He knew the usefulness in his work, and seemed to sense a nobility in it.  It even seems he had some sort of respect for his quarry, as he expressed fascination in his study of the animals, and how he was impressed by their abilities.

It makes me think of Josemaria Escriva, who often spoke of the value of work, using Joseph the carpenter of Nazareth as an example.   It makes me think of Therese of Lisieux, who encouraged people to "do small things with great love."

Okay so I'm a total nerd sometimes.  Still... I think Ike's cool.

How does his work apply to me, a stay-at-home mom hiding from kids on the porch while missing her coffee?  Well, I figure if a man can maintain pride and see honor in the career of 1800's rat-catcher, I can certainly be a proud, honorable changer of the poopy diapers of children and cleaner of dishes. And caretaker of their immortal souls.  Also if I do find a unsuitable critter about, I now know about six unique methods to dispose of them.

Which probably means I should get back to them (the kids, that is) now, and make them play outside. And reunite with my coffee too.

Thanks Ike. ;)
"Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good work, 
and in your teaching show integrity and dignity." Titus 2:7

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dear Surgeon:

I've been asked to give a talk to the OB surgery department of the hospital who "took care" of me during my second trimester loss, an expected part of my being on the OB Council that is working to improve the patient experience.  Since I've been doing much of my writing work on this today, I decided to share it with you.

Kindly say a prayer that the hearts of medical professionals learn to respect the loss of even the smallest of people.  Thank you.

(Fyi, this does not qualify as an upbeat post.  If you're looking more for that, see you tomorrow! ;) 

Dear Women & Infants Hospital,

On the worst day of my life, March 22, 2013, you and I were together.  I was devastated and terrified.  And you were in a rush.

Less than 24 hours before, I'd found out that my little girl no longer had a heartbeat.  My OB told me the world as I knew it had ended, and my baby needed to be removed A.S.A.P. 

Concerned for my health, my OB was in a hurry too.

As a woman who's had babies before, and one who'd never considered a D&C, I was terrified to think I was having surgery so soon.  As a mother who loved her baby, who 24 hours ago was buying more maternity clothes, I was not at all prepared for this separation.

No one at the hospital took the time to prepare me.  No one gave me time or space to say goodbye.

There's an odd blur that's takes over when you're rushing towards disaster. Turns out time flies when you're terrified too.  You know that moment when a loss mom signs papers agreeing to the procedure?  She's in shock.  I was in shock.  I would have signed over my house and my will at that awful moment too, if someone had asked.  How can anyone make any clear decision in a rushed atmosphere when all your mind is saying is, "My baby, my baby, my baby..."

I went home from the awful ultrasound in a daze.  I am so grateful I had the presence of mind to take some pictures of my pregnant belly.  I wish I had done more.  I had no idea how to prepare for this, and I did not know where to turn.

March 22 started normally. I held an empty hope it would continue that way. But then my parents came to watch my kids, and we had to go to the early morning appointment at your hospital.  

I walked into the beautiful hell that is your welcome lobby.  Newborns in car seats.  The nursing store to my left.  Admissions giving me a sticker with an "S" on it.  I didn't know what it stood for; all I could think of was "Sadness."  I puzzled vaguely over it as I walked in a daze to the elevators for floor 2 behind a family carrying pink balloons, bobbing a hopeless mockery to me, whose little girl would never get her pink balloons.

I'd just assumed, when I got to the floor, and least then I'd be "taken care of," that medical staff would hold my hand, speak to me gently, and lead me through the worst day of my life. 

But I was so very wrong.

Instead, when I first got to the floor and sat down to register, I was informed that my husband could not stay with me (!) since they had been having problems with men fainting during their wife's IV insertion.  I was told in an upbeat voice that my "S" was supposed to be for surgery, but it really meant "superwoman!"  (?)  I never felt less super.

No acknowledgement whatsoever was made of my loss during check-in or registration, the definition of adding insult to injury.  Instead, the one consolation of having my husband nearby was being taken away.  

I wanted so badly to leave.  But my baby was dead.  Where else could I go?  

Catherine J, my nurse, was the only light in this dark experience.  She got my husband into the room with me.  She rubbed my shoulder.  She got me more and more tissues.  She found an ultrasound machine and dragged it in, insisting to the hurried doctor with me that we check "just one more time, to be sure."  But no miracles had happened, and my little one was still.  

Typically I'm not a person who cries in public, at all.  Particularly in a circular office of curtains, filled with patients there for routine procedures who looked at me, puzzled.  But I don't think I stopped crying once while conscious at your hospital.  For the first time in my adult life, I couldn't stop the tears.

When the surgeon bounced in to ask, "How are we doing today?" I wondered what his problem was, really.  But I just said,"Oh, we are so sad!"  He faced the computer screen, briefly glancing over with a mildly sympathetic expression: "I understand."

To this day, I remain unconvinced.

I wanted this baby.  I loved this baby, ever since I saw two lines on a stick.  I loved her through months of awful morning sickness; and looking forward to having her to hold got me through the nausea.  I took vitamins and avoided alcohol and bean sprouts and always drank less than a half cup of coffee. She was worth it all to me.  

When a woman does that, even when her mind knows she's lost something dear, her body and spirit take a lot longer to let go. 

That's why I asked the surgeon to be gentle with my baby.  And he looked at me like I was off my rocker.  And heck, I probably was.  But his attitude wasn't kind, or necessary, or helpful. At all.

Primarily, I wanted to make darn sure that this wasn't a mistake (particularly since this missed miscarriage was symptom-free), but I also really, really wanted to see my baby just one more time.  While he grunted a consent to the last ultrasound, the surgeon exuded impatience and rush.  

My last glance at my child lasted three seconds, as I achingly peered at the tiny screen to see her perfect features once more.  Abruptly, he pulled the wand away.  I sobbed and asked for a final picture.  I was flatly told, "No.  It's not possible."  I asked if I could please see my baby afterwards.  The doctor looked repulsed at the request, repeated what he'd said before, and disappeared behind the curtain.

I could not stop crying.  

One of the worst parts of the day was being given the four pills to hold in my cheeks that would dilate my cervix.  Of the little research I was able to do on the procedure, I'd totally missed that part... I was expecting a "knock me out and get it over with" and not having to "do" anything. Let alone the very thing that would start the process of separating me and the baby I'd fought for months to keep.  

To go from not having a spot of blood to being told I needed to take something that would make me start bleeding, probably heavily... to having a nurse walk me to the bathroom and telling me, "You may see clots or... Let me know if you see... anything. I'd need to check... it."   
That felt like a line from a horror movie.

The only reason I was able to take those pills was because Catherine took time with me, rubbed my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and told me, over and over (because I needed to hear it, over and over,) that I was doing nothing to hurt my baby.  That I just needed to put her "to rest."  

That helped, a lot.

The other nurses' "chit chat" was not beneficial.  Distraction was not going to solve this problem; it felt oddly like people were ignoring the fact they were at a funeral.  I heard what their college age daughters were doing.  Talked a tiny bit of politics.  It just added to the unreality of what I was experiencing.

The chaplain was summoned.  And Nancy was great.  But somehow, in the busy, noisy atmosphere of zero privacy--on a floor where the rest of the hospital world raced raucously outside my thin curtain to get to the next coffee break--I never was able to relax or find any peace.   Even when I was given a sedative.  

I would not take my hands off my belly, so they were pried off.  The last thing I remember was a masked face appearing through my wild tears and demanding: "You have to cooperate. Deep breaths!" And my nose and mouth were cupped.

This was hardly the way I would have chosen to say goodbye.

No sooner did I sense light from under my heavy eyelids then I realized I was sobbing again. The first thing I overheard someone say, one of the female nurses, was "Oh no, here we go again..."  I remember feeling the horrible emptiness, seeing my deflated belly, and the blood stains on my hospital gown. 

My baby was gone. 

I asked if I could just hold the baby wrapped in a blanket.  Please, please, please...  

I still remember the grossed-out looked on the doctor's faces, as though I'd requested to hold a removed tumor and not my own child.  I was told it was impossible.  

I strongly feel that your hospital should have understood and sought to accommodate, better than anyone, what a grieving mother needed for her baby.

Someone handed me an empty, rolled-up blanket instead which I rocked and hugged and cuddled till chaplain Nancy returned.  At the time, I felt she was the only kind, empathetic soul in a room full of automatons.  I was given a quilted memory bag and a dish to vomit in before I left.

More than anything else in this experience, I wished my loss was acknowledged.  I was in mourning and losing my baby and Women & Infants handled the process just like a colonoscopy. (Actually, I've experienced more empathy from doctors during my colonoscopies.)  

For me, it would have helped my heart to be able to hold her.  I will grieve to my own grave that she was in the keeping of strangers for days when I was the one who loved her, when I was the one who'd carried her, when I was the one who needed--so badly--to have that moment for goodbye.

I wished I had known what choices I had for the procedure, and who to appeal to for more options.  I felt forced and rushed, overwhelmed with sorrow and confused with shock.  

Surgery-wise, you took excellent care of me.  I barely needed any pain meds at all.  But emotionally... part of me wishes I didn't have to see even the outside of this institution again. And unfortunately, I have met several other women who echo this sentiment.   

Your hospital's name implies that "Women and Infants" are your specialty.  But in my pregnancy loss experience at your hospital, the "woman" aspect was only taken care of physically, and generally the "infant" part wasn't even acknowledged as having been there at all.  

I did not feel my grief was respected.  Instead, I felt I was inconveniencing everyone with it, that there was an expectation that I "should" treat this like a biopsy.  Cuz that's how everyone around me was handling it.  

So while I do want to thank you for the many good things you do, and while I realize that doctors and nurses are some of the most overworked people on this planet: I would ask that you kindly remember the bodies you take care of also have hearts.  

Please take the few extra seconds to say "I'm sorry" with sincerity, to honor a life lost, and a life changed.  Those minuscule efforts to put yourself in a grieving mom's shoes, the extra moments to address the powerful feelings behind losing a child, can make all the difference in the world when women look back on the worst day of their lives.  

I will always remember nurse Catherine J. with great gratitude and fondness for taking time to address that I was going through a nadir of the human experience: losing a child.  She was an angel about it as was Nancy the chaplain, whereas every other doctor, nurse, and staff person I encountered that day else was busy, impatient, and/or ignoring my loss.

I've recounted this painful experience in the hopes that other moms like me will have a smoother grieving process from the start, that their miscarriage losses will be respected, and that these mothers will be given the time, education, and accommodations they need to say goodbye. 

Most sincerely,
Katie D.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not a single sparrow 
falls to the ground without your Father knowing it."  Matthew 10:29

Friday, August 23, 2013

Final ceremony

My heart and mind are full tonight, but my hands have been so busy.  Right now I can't give all the details of the day; partly I'm still processing all my emotions.  But it was good and beautiful to spend a day honoring my little ones.  I know they shared in our joy.

At the Japanese lantern release, the one with Perpetua's name was sent up first.  She flew up faster and farther than any of them, speeding towards the heavens to blend into the glorious clouds.

Of course, I cried.  While taking pictures, naturally.

I thought of each one of you who has had a loss, and said a prayer for you all today as I watched the lanterns melt into the sky.  "Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:8

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Camp Braveheart

1.  On my dear dad's 70th birthday, I was at the nursing home because--like the great guy he is--he wanted to be with his mom for the occasion.  

2.  As I put my girls through the mandatory songs and dances (literally) of entertaining the residents, I happened to notice a pamphlet on the floor.  Thinking it was part of the usual detritus my kids strew in their wake, I stuffed it in my pocket and continued directing the songs from Vacation Bible School.

3.  Pulled it out that evening and read, "Camp Braveheart: a free two-day camp for any child who has experienced a loss."  Losses addressed ranged from pets to parents.  Zip-lining, kayaking, rock-climbing, with food provided.  The final day concluded with a Japanese lantern lighting in honor of the deceased loved one.

Very intrigued, I looked at the dates. The deadline to register was the next day.  And the ceremony was on my due date.

4.  I love (don't you?) when God just taps you on the shoulder and says, "You know that thing you've been asking about? Here you go."

5.  And I finally knew how to commemorate the erstwhile birthday of the baby I lost.

6.  So that's what my kids and I did today. I am pickled in salt water from swimming and decorated literally head to toe with face paint, sticker tattoos, and kid-made jewelry.  I participated in my first drumming circle (gulp), which fortunately was just a glorified singalong where I got to sing my little ones' names.

7.  For today, I am grateful, and glad, and at peace.  

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding."  Proverbs 3:5

(for Seven Quick Takes, hosted at

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Prayer request

The valley of the shadow of death.  I used to hear that phrase from Psalm 23 and not realize how much it applies, not just to times of great peril, but simply to the human condition.  We are ever in the shadow of our own mortality.  Every day we have here is a gift from a loving God, and when those days are over He has prepared a wonderful place.  But now and here, we are frail and weak.

Welcome to whiplash Wednesday, where I go from Top Ten Tuesday humor to reflections on mortality.  Okay I'm kidding about making this a trend for hump day, really... 

But for now, in all seriousness, I am asking for your prayers for the sister of a dear friend of ours whom my husband and I met in Austria: a young lady named Rosie Grimm, a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College, who is now in hospice care painfully fighting an aggressive form of cancer.  I met her only once at her sister's graduation.  She was serious and sweet.  Now 26, she is hoping to make it long enough see her godson, who is expected to be born soon.  

I've been Facebook friends with her sister for awhile, but Rosie just recently befriended me.  As I look through her pictures, my heart breaks for her large and loving family who are coming to be with her these next couple of weeks.  

Rosie and her goddaughter

Rosie in hospice care
That's her on the left, with loved ones.  They appear to have crowned her.  Everyone in the family sings beautifully, and possesses a great deal of good humor and wit.  

I recently also heard of the passing of a young boy, Jacob Flesher who lost his battle with cancer at the age of 10 a few days ago.  His family could use prayer too.  

Please take a moment with me to pray for everyone we know who is fighting this disease (including my mother-in-law, actually, though her case is not imminently serious), and in a particular way for Rosie who may be on the brink of eternity now.  Through faith, we know that our life here is only a small fragment of the vast life that awaits us.  

The family has requested praying Divine Mercy or adding Rosie to your rosary novena. Other options are below.  Thank you friends!

"Lord, the one You love is sick." John 11:3
Dear Heavenly Father,

Your ways are not our ways, and Your thoughts are not Your thoughts.  We believe in Your love, Your wisdom, and that You give us hope and a blessed future.  We ask that you visit Rosie with your comfort, grace, and protection.  Hold her in the palm of Your hand.  Comfort her, shelter her in this storm, and bring her closer to You, the Source of all that is good.  


Prayer for those who have cancer and their loved ones

Dear Jesus, Divine Physician, Healer of the Sick:
We call upon you and ask your help for our loved ones
who are suffering from cancer.
We entrust them to your loving care.
They are your children and they are in pain.
Give them the ability to know in their hearts
that you are with them in this difficult time.

Give them strength and healing.
Comfort them in their fears,
soothe their anxiety,
and let them rest securely in your arms.

Help those who care for them.
Give insight to researchers that they may discover cures.
Give patience and energy to doctors and nurses so that
they will care for them with grace and love.

For us, their families, their friends and their community,
we need your courage and strength,
to be with them and help them bear their burdens.
Give us joy, peace and confidence in you
so that like Mary, your mother,
we may stand with them in faith and trust,
witnessing to your healing love.
For you are blessed, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top 10 hazards of the doctor's office

Yessir yessir, it's a "hot" month here at the blogathon... Today's hot topic: I just got diagnosed with IBS, which pairs nicely with my Crohn's!  Yay!

Is there a less sexy diagnosis?  I mean, diseases used to have romanticized, almost pretty names even for lousy things.  "Consumption."  "Tissick."  Even "Rising of the Lights."  

But none of that, I have Irritable... never mind.  I'm going to get to drink fiber drinks just like me da.  :)

That's why I haven't been quite up to par on posts recently... I get dizzy and woozy during such flare-ups.  My state of mind could best be expressed in "pig Indian," the nonsensical version of my native ancestor's talk-talk: "Ugh.  Feel bad, worst in many moons.  Likum coffee, but it no likum me.  Want sleep heap much.  Ugh."

Anyhow, from personal experience, today: the top 10 hazards of taking your children with you on a doctor's appointment.  Which, by the law of averages, will happen at some point if you have kids, however you try to avoid it.

1.  Elevator buttons

First things first: if you have more than one kid, they will fight over who gets to press the button. Every time.

2.  Magazines

As you discard Cosmopolitan and Redbook and hand out Parenting and Family Circle, you are also doling out ads.  For toys.  And new things that cost money.  They will take note.  "Oooo I want this!"

3.  The water cooler

Innocently placed in the most unavoidable location, this innocuous device is one of the most feared and dreaded challenges of the doctor's office avec l'enfants experience.  Some can be unplugged and will then be "bwoken," but others... hide the cups and muffle the screams, mama friends.  This one is tough.  Be prepared to handle a tantrum and hold five plastic cups while cleaning spills, changing clothes, and drinking absurd amounts of water, lovingly doled out by your doting little ones who are convinced, over and over, that "Mommy needs a dwink."

So that's the water dispenser... there several other types of dispensers, once you finally get in to see the doctor.

4. Sanitizer

Now available in nifty boxes which require only the wave of a hand (or standing under it the wrong way) for a child's handful of Purell to be wiped on the back of your shorts.  Because that will be the quickest way for them to get the stuff off their hands.

5.  Latex gloves

Your kids will love playing Doc McStuffins with several pairs of stretchy hands.  They can also make fine, creepy balloons when inflated.  Enjoyably chokable.  Now available in purple.

6.  Tissues

The good, ole' fashioned appeal of one of childhood's favorite dispensers, always in abundance here

7.  Sharps containers

No, they can't really get into those, thankfully.  But somehow, the sight of visible, infectious needles hanging over your child's head will not help your frayed nerves.

8.  The bright red box of hazardous waste

This ain't locked.  'Nuff said.

9.  Germs

I'm not really a germophobe, I just don't like germs and have a healthy respect for them.  And doctor's attract people with germs, who come with their germs, and leave their germs.  And kids have a magnetism to germs.

Why can't they make paper that actually fits the tables???  Why why why....

10.  The rolling chair

"Whhheeeeee!!!  Wahahahaha!!  Mine!  My tuuwwnnn!  WEEEEEEEE!"

Oh yes: if there's a mirror, they will lick it.  I would have taken a pic of that part too but at the time I was too busy trying to pulling them away from the glass, talking to the doctor, removing dancing preschoolers from the exam table, while trying to keep an attractive johnny on.

Stay well my friends, stay well.  And if not, may your children sit in quiet pairs, on chairs.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Children at church, again

A group of us moms took pictures at the playground today, attempting to "recreate" a picture we had done years ago (two kids and two miscarriages later, for me.)  I halfheartedly agreed.  And both photos were posted and tagged to Facebook today to live on cyberspace forever.  

Even my vanity is exhausted these days so I didn't protest the pic, but no, I didn't post them to my timeline.  So since most of you are deprived of these portraits, let me just say: in the old pic, I was sitting up, smiling perkily, and in today's I'm slumped over a bit, a little bigger, a lot more tired.  

Ah the joys of motherhood.  Not that it's not worth it.  It's just so darn hard sometimes.

I'm grateful I'm finding time to write today, especially after a few frustrating days of an idea, a few taps on the keyboard, then MOMMMMEEEE!  I see the dishes suffering as I do this though, and the laundry, and... eh, it will wait for me I'm sure, right? :)

The morning wasn't promising: I went to do a few errands, when loud singing in the van turned to a dispute as to who should sing which part, or which song, or whose turn it was to sing at all... in the commotion, I took a wrong turn.  As I pulled into a random driveway to back up and reverse my trip, my preschooler piped up, "Oh YAY!!!  We are going to somebody's HOUSE!  Oh NO MOM!  WAIT!  I WANT TO GO TO THAT HOWOWOWOSE!!" And I sped away before the poor owners of the driveway could discover which hellions were trying to pay a call.

They are currently loving the bath while I type.  Provided my laptop doesn't get wet, this is all good.   Let's see how far I can go...

I was supposed to post to "Catholic Carnival" yesterday about what my favorite hymn was (yes, I'm a day late and a dollar short but I'm doing this anyway)... It's probably "Adoro te Devote", a prayer by Thomas Aquinas.

Second would probably be "Be Thou my Vision."  In general, I'm a pushover for Irish melodies.  

Unless I'm in church with my children, like I was yesterday.  Then, if I'm being honest and non-liturgically appropriate, I would self-centeredly vote for the most peppy, exciting song about Jesus there is.  Preferably with hand motions.  Anything, anything to hold their attention.

Because I'm tired and overwhelmed, and I'm not the best at church discipline, frankly.  I'm not terrible at it mind you (mine are not the kids you see dancing on pews with animal crackers, but they very well might be the ones processing to the front when I'm not looking, collecting missalettes as they go.) There's plenty of techniques I could implement to prepare them better, which I will hopefully remember to do after I fix the dishwasher and take them to the doctors and come back from swim lessons, you know?  I'm so distracted these days...

St. Josemaria Escriva once said, "The Mass is long because your love is short."  He was wrong in my case.  The Mass is long because my children are loud.  Absurdly loud.  Graced with their father's lungs, every one of them.  And I've really never gotten over how wonderfully quiet it used to be at church and how marvelously humiliating it can be now.  

Case in point yesterday: We had the grave misfortune of going to an evening service.  Which meant that not only were the kids tired, they were also hungry; and not only were they hungry, they were also irritable.  (Note: when I say "kids" here, I am talking about the two that are under 4.  My oldest ones are quiet, good, sane, and helpful at church.  So mothers of all preschoolers: yes, there is hope.  But for now...)  

The moment we walk in during the opening hymn (for us, that's early), the two littles toddle into the pew because I'm not going to _start_ in the crying room, right?  I'm an undying optimist.  After examining the collection of pamphlets, envelopes, prayer books, and chewed gum bits under the seats, my preschooler announces in a stage whisper, "Mommy, I weawwy need to go potty!"

Now here's the thing: she might just be bored and pulling my leg.  But you never know... 

Choice A: Call her bluff, manage the tantrum, and face the possibility of a catastrophe to her almost really clean wardrobe (if you roll up the sleeves she rubbed on the van on the way out and ignore the marker line she drew on her lap in the car.) 


Choice B: Take her to the $&%* potty.  

99 times out of a hundred, I'm going with choice B.  And I'm usually there till the sermon, when I struggle out (no you've washed your hands plenty well, no you can't wash your face again, OH DON'T TOUCH THAT! Okay, we're washing hands just ONE more time, that's enough paper towel, that's enough, THAT'S ENOUGH!!) back to the pew.  

I slide quietly into the seat to a cry of "MOMMY!"  It's gleeful, high-pitched, and makes people smile. And look at me.  As I take back the toddler who has missed me so dreadfully for the past 8 minutes, with the mostly benevolent eyes of the congregation upon me, the dear little thing starts to yank on my shirt, very successfully.  

FYI... Fellow lactating moms of modesty: when you are buying clothing, and try on 20 shirts to find 1 you like... Make sure, before you dare walk out of the fluorescent lighting and mirrored room, that you take the following necessary step: Have ready in your purse a hook, a rope, and a brick.  Attach these together, look at your new-shirted self squarely in the glass, and hang that brick from your collar.  And honey, give it a couple real good yanks.  And then being the honest, fair person that you are: pay for the torn apparel, and also go buy the strongest turtleneck you can find... something that seals at the bottom too ... because then and only then, will you be safe and secure from sudden apparel malfunctions when a toddler wants, in her words, "Noi noi."  

I don't know how she chose that word for nursing--I assume it's the sound she would make if she vocalized chomping--but it's better than some nicknames I've heard...  However if she were at all unclear verbally, her actions spoke volumes.  

I dared not meet the once benevolent stares, and indeed avoid looking at any one else for the entire time, just pretend they aren't staring at me....  I gently pry the continually gripping hands away.  

Choice A.  Find a place you feel comfortable and nurse her.


Choice B:  Kid, you are almost two.  Wait till we get home.

10 times out of 10--since this ain't no infant--I go with Choice B.


My toddler is sweet, petite, and introverted.  But she has learned certain techniques very well from her older, overbearing sisters.  Particularly the hopelessly forte wail when one does not get what one wants.

Pulling my shirt up with one hand, pulling her hands away with the other, while carting her under my arm, I awkwardly squeeze by the rest of my family (who all somehow end up on the aisle seats) and make my way to the crying room.  I make what I hope is a reverential bob on my way out.

"Wait for MEEEE!"  My preschooler is tearing down the aisle in pursuit.  Marker stain much more visible than I remembered.  Dirty sleeves waving wildly.

The rest of church time I spend in a pool of children, little bible books, dodging sneezes and coughs, settling tussles between the pro-snack and non-snack kids (mine are non-snack in church), and orchestrating yet another potty visit. When a bell rings, I stop to say, "Look! Jesus!"  And then I turn to see my toddler has crawled onto another kid's lap to steal their cracker.  

I know the years are short though the days are long.  I know there will come a time, again, that I don't feel sheer glee at the words, "Go in peace."  

Thanks be to God.