Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
The old wooden cross was not always a symbol of faith. Before the first Good Friday over 2000 Years ago, the cross stood for grief and mourning. They did not know there was an Easter coming. That is the beauty of the cross today. We can see it and rejoice, because it reminds us of life after death, not only for the Lamb but for all of our loved ones who have gone before us to share in the blessed dwelling of God. And so it is that we celebrate Easter in springtime, among the budding tulips and the new grown leaves atop the trees. For death is not forever; it is only for a season. So let us celebrate this beautiful Easter for the truth it teaches, the offering it represents, and the life that continues to go into the ground of our spirits only to be born again in our love for one another. May we live our lives in daily remembrance of the old wooden cross...and the blessed symbol of faith it humbly reflects today.
- Do you know how to use a condom?
- You know how those are made right?
- Was this planned?
- Are congratulations or condolences in order?
- Apparently NFP isn't as practical as you thought!
- Are you finally going to start using birth control?
- You must be crazy!
- Your hands are going to be full!
For a gift is in the making.
Something priceless, something special,
From God's bounty we're partaking.
Whether boy or maybe girl,
We will love this bun a'baking!
So please offer prayers and blessings
For our gift that's in the making.
Friday, April 18, 2014
Good Friday...I know not all of my friends share in Christian faith, some in no faith at all. In fact, you may be one of them, and this post is not intended to change your mind...but you do not have to believe in a savior to appreciate what happened on this day, thousands of years ago.
There was once a man who believed He could change the world, through two simple things: faith and love. And so He prayed and He loved, day after day, through His words and His actions...even if it meant going against the laws of His faith or the teachings of the Pharisees...He refused to let His life stand for hate or for judgment. And so, as it often ends, hate and judgment found a way back to Him. While He could have chosen to live, He instead chose to love...love through His faith that His selfless death would serve a greater purpose than a life of deceit.
And while in that moment we had no way of knowing if He would truly live again, it did not matter. Because how often does another human being love us enough to give their life for ours?
This Friday is Good because of a man who chose to love. Simply love. No matter what title you may call Him in your life, it doesn't change the gift He was willing to give. So, I pray today that you find peace in your soul and joy in your heart that someone loved you so deeply...and maybe you will find faith that He still does.
God bless you.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Breastfeeding is an incredible experience. It truly does bond a mother and child together like nothing else I've ever experienced. However, most of what media, society, and other mothers portray about breastfeeding is...well...a lie.
Breastfeeding is not always easy. Yes, it gets easier with each child, but only in the way that changing a tire gets easier the more you do it. The task doesn't suddenly become a less painful or difficult experience, you just happen to be more knowledgeable and prepared for it the next time around. Nobody told this to me. As I grew closer to my due date, women started to mention that my nipples might be tender at first until I get used to it. If you have had the blessing to experience breastfeeding then you know...tenderness is nothing compared to the cracked, bloody nipples, the throbbing, engorged breasts, or the itching, aching, fever-inducing, supply dropping, sickness of mastitis.
But women continue to breastfeed, and I am one of them. I have breastfed all three of my daughters, because I have never felt more bonded to them or more power as a woman than in that moment--that miraculous moment when I, and I alone, am able to give nourishment and life to another human being. I would suggest that all mothers try it, not out of obligation to some mothers' code, but to get the chance to experience that awesomeness that only mothers are capable of creating.
I wanted to write today about my story, because I want other mothers out there to stop feeling like failures. I felt like a failure once. And I've learned that we, as a society, have somehow turned breastfeeding from a bonding experience to a motherly competition. I know I am not the only mother out there who has shed tears over breastfeeding, and I hope by sharing this story, I can stop other mothers' tears from falling as well.
So, back to August 4th, 2011. The day my daughter E was born. E couldn't latch on to my breast. Within five minutes of her being born, my nurse introduced me to a Medela nipple shield. She said it would help her latch since my nipples were small. It worked.
However, she misjudged my nipple size and gave me a shield one size too small. Within an hour, my nipples were bruised and bleeding. The Lactation Consultant realized the mistake, and a new shield was offered, but the damage had already been done and breastfeeding was already causing more pain than joy. I fought through it because I was determined to breastfeed, but I could tell E responded to my flinching and groans every time she latched. It was a struggle. A struggle I had to fight through every two to three hours, every day of every week. And this struggle was not being fought by a prepared, sane person. It was being fought by a sleep-deprived, insecure, hormone-ridden new mom who thought she had already done something wrong and was fighting the urge to resent her newborn child. I remember one night, as she cried from hunger but was unable to latch, yelling and weeping, "What do you want from me?" This was not the breastfeeding experience everyone said it would be.
Then came pumping. As a working mother, not only did I have to face the fear and pain of feeding my own child, I also had to train my body to feed a machine. I had to suction plastic to my breasts, listen to a loud groaning as this machine painfully groped me, and "relax" so I could produce more milk. If you have done this, then chances are you are laughing along with me at the irony of being told to relax or you'll fail at feeding your child. The stress only grew with each passing day.
Oh, and might I add that I had to find time to pump. Yes, the laws support our right to breastfeed, but as many mothers will testify, that doesn't mean we won't be treated differently by our coworkers or bosses for asking for special treatment. So, I used my 30 minute lunch period to pump. It isn't a surprise that 30 minutes a day of pumping is not sufficient when your baby eats at least three times during eight hours. And because of that, I soon realized that I would not be able to make enough milk to feed my daughter. So I pumped on weekends too. I even suggested we try to distract her from being hungry. I became ridiculous and cried often.
Then came mastitis. I woke up one morning with chills, my entire body aching, and pain shooting through my breast when I fed E. I immediately called my doctor and had to take an unpaid day off to go in. (Another perk of mothering, my job--like many--requires me to use up all my sick/personal leave before starting maternity leave, which left me with no sick days for the rest of the year.) I had to take antibiotics and rest, but I also had to continue to nurse E so my supply wouldn't drop even more than it would from the illness. I fed through the razor-sharp pain, but my supply still disappeared by the time she was three months old. My frozen supply got her to four months of age, but then I finally had to admit defeat and buy my first can of formula.
With my second daughter, A, I learned from my struggles. My husband and I bought a new pump (a Medela Pump-In-Style, which I recommend to anyone looking to buy one) which was gentler and quieter. I refused the nipple shield so I could give A time to get used to latching on my nipples. (Small nipples do not mean breastfeeding is impossible!) I started pumping in the hospital so I could build up a larger frozen supply. I even found more time to pump during the day. But even with all the changes, I still found myself shaking the night before I had to return to work. What if all the changes didn't work?
They did work....for a while. But eventually, being unable to pump throughout the day took its toll on my supply. I was proud to have made it to six months instead of four, but I still wished I could have done better.
And why? Because formula is poison? No way. I am grateful for the incredible advancements our society has made in the nutritional value of formula. Because I would someday win a medal for my incredible mothering skills? Haha! Not likely. So why the feeling of failure? For some reason, it seems that we as mothers set ourselves up for failure the moment we begin to compete with the mother next to us.
So let's stop. Breastfeeding is incredible. Do it for as long as you can. Don't let someone else define "can" for you. If you find that breastfeeding is causing you more mental, emotional, or physical stress than you can handle, then stop. And don't feel bad for stopping. "Failure" does not exist in mothering, because it would imply that there is only one best way to do it. And....regardless of what some mothers believe...there is no "best" way to do it. There's just a love-filled way to do it, and that is to give your child your very best each day and to say I love you each night.
I am still currently breastfeeding my third daughter, C. She is two months old. My husband and I bought a car adapter, I cut holes in my bra so I could pump back and forth to work. I drink multiple glasses of water an hour. I let my daughter use my nipple for meals, for a pacifier, for anything she wants as long as she reminds my boobs to do their job. This all has increased my supply so much that we have signed up to donate milk to our local milk bank! Does it mean I'll make it to a year this time? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm not stressing this time. Because simply loving her enough to try is what makes me a success. The success is in the love.
The Catholic Mama